WagerBop is giving comparable amounts of space to our betting predictions on FBS and FCS championship games this week, and it’s a reminder of how gamblers are actually defying a cruel stereotype in the new era of legal sports bets.
MSNBC anchors (and the “anti-sports writers” at neoliberal blogs like The Nation) may actually get a bad rap as the most pious, prudish, finger-wagging citizens of North America. That crown belongs to the aging, out-of-touch sports pundits who still pen faithful anti-sports gambling screeds in small-town newspapers. Such uppity editorials always accuse bettors of losing touch with our “genuine” cheering interests (like cheering for a pro sports team because they supposedly hail from your town and can help prove that your town is better than other towns, even though all of them are recent imports from other towns, and we’re all just idiots) and only knowing how to root for our gambling picks to pay off instead.
The argument assumes that sports predictions aren’t any fun if huge amounts of money aren’t involved, which is stupid. Fan forecasting is the lifeblood that makes the entire world of fall pigskin tick. Whether you’re laying down cash, writing a silly article – like this one – in which your “(bleep)’s on the block” with reckless picks on the games, or telling a barber shop’s crowd why you had everything called right from the season’s opening kickoff, the single-game prediction is a time-honored way to enjoy a sporting event. Betting, Fantasy Football, and barber shop arguments are just 3 of the infinite ways to have fun trying to call a final score.
Ruining a life’s savings with sports bets or Fantasy losses is a spurious, self destructive decision that might as well have been made at the craps table and has nothing to do with a sports-prediction hobby at all. Reputable sportsbooks don’t let their clients do that anyway. If someone decides to trash their life by throwing away $15,000 in careless bets with online bookmakers in 2022, chances are it will prove so difficult that they’ll give up and sock themselves in the face instead. The sportsbook is designed to make sports interesting, not tragic.
Which college football game will the grey-bearded curmudgeons be obsessed with this weekend? Probably not the FCS Championship Game. They’ll be consumed with Georgia and Alabama, which is great, except it ruins the principle of putting cheering interest and fascination first and hype-money-publicity second. Why is Alabama vs Georgia the only big game worth watching, when the SEC has already proven its point thousand-fold in the postseason, and when a UGA win would merely make the conference rivals 1-1 against each other in 2021-22?
CFB gamblers – those “jaded, detached” types all – will be fascinated indeed by the odds on North Dakota State vs Montana State for this Saturday. NDSU is more than just the “Alabama” of the FCS. The Bison are more like your nearby prep team that “just happens” to have the biggest, fastest kids every single year. Yet if dominion over the top of the FBS ranks has already been decided for 2021-22, Saturday’s FCS Championship Game at Toyota Stadium could be a glimpse of what Group-of-5 loyalists hope the College Football Playoff picture looks like in a few years.
Don’t get WagerBop wrong – we’re still devoting most of today’s post to Alabama’s Crimson Tide and the fearsome “Dawgs” of Athens, GA. But the betting odds – yes, those passion-sapping, interest-draining, dag-nabbin’ evil odds! – on Saturday’s “lower-division” contest make the FCS title scrum into must-see-TV.
At least to this degenerate gambler, anyway. Hope the moral fiber of America has fun reading about a 3rd-string Georgia Bulldog’s comic book collection, because that’s how fine Sunday’s news and notes will be for those who only dig into the
SEC Championship Game 2.0 College Football Playoff Final.
If NDSU triumphs in another 45-21 snoozer, then North Dakota State will have accomplished what Georgia and Alabama have done together, turning the rest of a college football division into a B-flight. But if Montana State puts up an epic fight on Saturday – and we’ve got a hunch that the Bobcats may – then the FCS will once again be a free-for-all in which every team can hope for postseason glory.
May the FBS be so lucky. At this rate, it’s going to take a while.
College Football Playoff Final: Preview, Betting Odds, and Best Pick
Once again, the SEC has revived its reputation as the prohibitively dominant league in FBS football. Few of the game’s analysts were very shocked to see Alabama trip Cincinnati in the first of 2 semi-final kickoffs on New Year’s Eve, but by halftime of the game to follow, it was obvious that Bulldogs and Crimson Tide would meet be meeting for the 2nd time in 5 years in Monday night’s CFP final.
Luke Fickell’s Bearcats acquitted themselves and the Group-of-5 quite well against the surging SEC champions. Former ‘Bama backup Jerome Ford rushed for 5.1 yards per carry, veteran QB Desmond Ridder did not commit a turnover, and Alabama finally pulled away behind the superior cast on offense in a 27-6 victory. Cincinnati held Alabama scoreless in the 3rd quarter, though the Tide’s final-frame rally left no doubt who the victor would be.
And then the Orange Bowl was another story – beginning with Chapter 1. The #2 seeded Michigan Wolverines, known for the stingiest big-game defense in the Big Ten, gave up a quick TD and then turned the ball back over to Georgia at midfield to begin what would turn into a 34-11 rout in favor of the Bulldogs. Hassan Haskins was held to 39 rushing yards and a battered Cade McNamara was intercepted twice by Georgia, showing the Dawgs’ sloppy defense in the SEC Championship Game has not carried over.
The offered lines are looking past the SEC title tilt’s outcome as well. Georgia is a (-3) point spread favorite over Alabama for Monday night’s national championship game, a strange looking handicap considering that UGA fared almost as poorly as Cincinnati against Alabama in the 2nd half of the contest played in December.
Bookmakers know Georgia was caught off-guard by parity between its front-7 and Alabama’s blockers in the December battle, and that Kirby Smart was somewhat unprepared to open up his playbook enough to score 40+ points after coasting through the season with great defense. Georgia’s 27 points in the opening 2 frames of last Friday’s semifinal illustrate that the Dawgs have adjusted into a more aggressive game plan. However, the Athens defense must still answer for giving up 200+ reception yards and 3 touchdowns to just 2 receivers in the SEC Championship Game.
John Metchie, one of Alabama’s prolific duo, was seriously injured in the 12/4 outing and will miss the remainder of the FBS postseason. But that didn’t much slow ‘Bama down against a terrific defense in last weekend’s semi-final.
The fact that Bennett is not the focal point of Georgia’s offense is quite ironic considering QB play is at the fore of the SEC’s redoubt as the undisputed top league in college pigskin. Several big-time SEC brands could have contended nationally were it not for pedestrian QB performances in the 2010s, when the effects of over-zealous recruitment of Middle School passers began to show up on Southeastern Conference gridirons. LSU’s successful development of Joe Burrow resulted in a national title for the Tigers, and Nick Saban’s team has rode on the shoulders of Heisman QB Bryce Young in 2021-22. Nevertheless, Georgia could win a CFP championship with a role-playing Bennett at the helm.
Georgia has realized that its vaunted defense is not impenetrable, at least to the best SEC opponents. Bennett has done well learning on the job and had a huge day against Michigan that showed he is now ready to handle 30 pass attempts against an elite defense without succumbing to the edge-rush.
UGA and Alabama may lack confidence in running the ball with consistency against the other, having seen YPC averages diminish even throughout lopsided wins in December. That calls the playoff final’s (52.5) Over/Under line into question.
Considering the clock rules of college football, predicting that Alabama and Georgia will combine for 2 less TDs than the opponents combined for in their last meeting is a big whiff.
Consider that even a cautious 17-17 tie at the end of 60:00 could easily lead to an O(52.5) outcome, given the propensity of college OT periods to tie.
Recommended bet: Over (52.5)
North Dakota State Bison vs Montana State Bobcats (FCS Championship Game)
North Dakota State’s Bison did not qualify for the championship tilt in a special FCS spring season of 2021. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t years of history behind North Dakota State’s optimistic point spread for Saturday afternoon. The feared Bison have routed the FCS field for a decade with FBS-level recruiting and roster numbers. NDSU’s defense is ranked atop the division once again in 2021-22, and the Bison’s excellent stable of running backs contributed to recent blow-out wins over bugaboo spring foes.
The current favorites no longer possess the kind of prolific passing game that characterized North Dakota State’s championship teams of the 2010s. In fact, it’s rare that gamblers would help to maintain an (-8) spread line on a sluggish offensive team for a game in which 5 touchdowns may not be scored. Montana State not only boasts a #2 ranked defense that has quieted fast, flashy offenses from Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington, but also an offense that has been livelier than the Bisons’ attack through much of this year’s playoff picture.
NDSU enjoyed lots of “(-8)” and even “(-18)” point spreads prior to big games played 5 and 10 years ago, but now the team must prove that it’s reached that level again in spite of evidence to the contrary in the form of tighter scores.
Recommended bet: Montana State (+8)
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.