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Black Shoe Degenerates Season Review and Bowl Challenge

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Bowl games are weird. Let’s pick some bowl games.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Season Record

Championship Week: 2-1
Overall: 26-23-1 (.530)

That’s it folks. The regular season is over, and the championship games have been played. I had a decent enough season, going above .500 two years in a row since joining the degenerates fold. Let’s review some of the best and worst picks to date.

Best Picks

Week 12: Houston +15 vs Louisville - For some reason, the Vegas overlords decided that Houston, a team that was playing much better football with many of their injured players back, was still a three score underdog to Louisville, at home. Teams seemed to have started to figure out Louisville’s plan by season’s end, and the performance against Wake Forest the week before was enough for me to see this line for what it was, free money.

Week 13: Penn State -12 vs Michigan State - Vegas has been undervaluing Penn State all season, and I was very happy to oblige. Michigan State’s one-point loss to Ohio State the week prior gave people, including the oddsmakers, much more confidence in Michigan State’s ability to keep the game close. They, however, counted out The Wizard, and the Tale of the Second Half Team™.

Week 11: Iowa +22 vs Michigan - Michigan’s only other road game against a team not named Rutgers led to an 8 point win. Yet still, Vegas gave the public a 22-point line against an Iowa team that, in fairness, looked silly a week prior against the Nittany Lions. That seemed quite large at the time, and, as it turned out, it was quite large. Iowa won the game outright.

Week 7: Minnesota +7 (or ML) @ Maryland - For some reason, Vegas made Minnesota the underdog in this game, by a touchdown, no less. I assume that reason was because they still had faith in Maryland’s mirage of a start, but as soon as Maryland faced an opponent with a running game, it was apparent that their defense wasn't going to be able to contain the Gophers. And they didn’t.

Week 8: Penn State +20 vs Ohio State - I didn’t Pick Penn State much this season, as I didn’t want to make it the “let’s pick Penn State every week and go from there” Degenerates. The times I did, though, they came through for me. This was such a time. There are a plethora of reasons why 20 points seemed like a ton to give on the road, none more important than Ohio State’s previous game against Wisconsin. As such, Ohio State was unable to score more than 21 points, which is still their lowest output of the season. Penn State won the game, by the way.

Worst Picks

Week 10: Nebraska +17 @ Ohio State - The untrained eye would excuse the loss away as a throwaway due to Tommy Armstrong getting knocked out of the game. However, Nebraska was already trailing 24-3 by the time Armstrong went out. Score wise, this one one of the biggest misses of the season for me, as the -59 differential is, well, terrible.

Week 9: UConn +7 @ East Carolina - Another pick where my faith in the underdog was completely misplaced. UConn had consistently played close games, or at least close enough to cover. This time around, against an East Carolina team that wasn’t really much better, they came out flat, and got run out of the field almost immediately.

Week 8: Miami +6 @ Virginia Tech - Lesson learned. Don’t take road underdogs. Miami was another team that had been playing close games to that point, but a downward slump that culminated in a blowout loss at the hands of Virginia Tech lands them here. Better luck next year folks.

Week 2: Virginia Tech +11.5 vs Tennessee - Back when I made this pick, I said that Vegas was probably playing with people’s view of Tennessee, given their close one against Appalachian State. They were right, and I was wrong. The Hokies kept it close for a quarter and a half, and the Tennessee took over. That was that.

All of week 1 - Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

With that out of the way, let’s move onto the bowl slate. Bowl games are weird. Unlike the regular season games, there are a few things that make bowl games different:

  1. Most teams have at least three weeks to prepare. Things that would be meaningful during the season, like injuries, schedule, conference goals, momentum (if you believe it’s a thing), etc., go out the window.
  2. For the most part, teams are matched up evenly (unless you’re the Big Ten and get four teams in the New Year’s Six), which takes away some of the ease in predicting what could happen.
  3. You can’t tell how motivated a team will be, depending on who they’re matched up against, and how that team’s season went.

For these three main reasons I usually stay away from picking bowl games. However, there is one thing I do for fun. Each year since I embarked on this degenerate journey, I make some sort of parlay/teaser bet with a combination of all the Big Ten teams. So this is what we’ll do this year.

The Challenge

These are the lines we’re playing with:

Quick Lane: Maryland -1 vs Boston College
Holiday: Minnesota +9 vs Washington State
Pinstripe: Northwestern +5.5 vs Pitt
Foster Farms: Indiana +7.5 vs Utah
Music City: Nebraska +3 vs Tennessee
Orange: Michigan -7 vs Florida State
Fiesta: Ohio State -3 vs Clemson
Outback: Iowa +2.5 vs Florida
Cotton: Wisconsin -7.5 vs Western Michigan
Rose: Penn State +6.5 vs USC

I’m making three picks this year:

Parlay 1: Penn State ML, Iowa ML, Indiana +7.5, Maryland -1, Pitt/Northwestern OVER, Nebraska ML, Michigan -7.
Reasoning:

  • Penn State won’t lose
  • Florida doesn’t have an offense
  • Indiana, even without Wilson, can keep it close against a Utah team suffering from Wisconsin Syndrome.
  • While Maryland’s defense leaves a lot to be desired, Boston College doesn’t have an offense at all.
  • I personally believe Northwestern won’t be able to keep up with Pitt, but at the same time, it’s Pitt. So let’s hedge a little here and choose the over, something that’s as close to a guarantee as you can get. I think.
  • Champions of Life Tennessee probably just want to get the season over with, and Nebraska might be looking to show the world that they were good really they just got some injury issues they swear!
  • Michigan will be out for blood.

Parlay 2: Maryland -1, Minnesota ML, Pitt ML, Indiana ML, Nebraska ML, Michigan ML, Ohio State ML, Iowa ML, Wisconsin ML, Penn State ML
Reasoning: This is the least likely scenario, but it’s also the biggest payout. Pick every Big Ten team to win, except Northwestern, who is not winning. Because the line in the Maryland game is a single point, there is no option to pick them straight up.

Teaser 1: Penn State +16, Michigan +2.5, Iowa +12, Maryland +8.5, Minnesota +18.5, Pitt +4, Nebraska +12.5, Indiana +17, Wisconsin +2, Ohio State + 6.5
Reasoning: Tease every Big Ten game by 9.5 points (the highest allowed for me), with Pitt becoming a 4-point underdog after the points.

That’s it! We’ll reconvene on January 3rd to see how we did. Enjoy your holidays everyone!