Fishing in Lockness Week #16

by dave on December 21, 2012

My Vegas condo agreement requires me to publicly tout gambling picks for the week. I can’t GUARANTEE A FIVE STAR LOCK OF THE MILLENNIUM, YOU ARE A COMMUNIST TRANSVESTITE IF YOU DON’T BET ON THIS but I can identify the games that seem to me to have an essence of Lockness about them, which smells like a mix of algae, brackish water and lizard breath.

Also, I am totally welcoming of all communists. Transgendered, transvestite or other.

It’s the holiday season, time for family and relaxing. I arrived back in Denver yesterday to twenty degree temperatures and snow on the ground. My days are now filled with trying to come up with presents for nieces, nephews and parents. The rest of the world is taking a break from their work schedules, so I feel like I should as well.

Yet with the winding down of the NFL season and the on-set of bowl season, it is also peak gambling season. Every moment spent in a toy store wrestling with a soccer mom for the last Barbie is a moment not spent handicapping bowl and NFL lines.

Plus being out of town, even without handicapping I can’t lay any more bets. I am stuck with what I have. I have bets down on bowl games over a week away. I have bets on NFL games, all laid more than 5 days in advance.

Is this good or bad? I don’t know. If a game has a late line movement, I have no chance to make updates. I had to make my plays and then let them ride for the week. There will be no doubling down to eliminate losses or throwing winnings on a high risk – high reward bet.

I may miss out on value but I also won’t throw away money on an impulse bet.

Thanks to inept offense in San Diego last night, I started off well, winning on the Under for the BYU/San Diego State Poinsettia Bowl. A small bet, but a win is the right way to start. Now let’s just hope it keeps going.

Because if it goes bad there isn’t much I can do about it except return that Taylor Swift CD and use that money in the New Year.

Lockness #1 – Tampa Bay (-3) vs St. Louis

Tampa is in the midst of a full scale melt-down right now. Things started so promising that prominent football journalists got sucked in by the story, nominating Greg Schiano as a candidate for coach of the year <cough> Peter King <cough>. Of course if every journalist actually waited and thought things through before publishing, there wouldn’t be much to read on Monday mornings early in the season. But, if there is one thing we have seen is this story before – it was pretty obvious, things would not keep up. Here is what I wrote before the season:

It is yet to be seen how disciplinarian Greg Schiano goes over in Tampa after the laid-back Raheem Morris was canned. If history has taught us anything the arc of that story is: team welcomes new discipline>>team gains confidence and surprises early>>team faces unexpected challenges>>team starts to chafe under discipline>>team vents anger to friendly media over fascist coaches>>season falls apart.

Not sure, how much venting has occurred but I think a sideline coach/player shoving match and a four game losing streak constitutes ‘season falls apart’.

All of this keeps the line on this game low – but maybe too low. 3 point spread reflects a belief these two teams are equal. That might be true in St. Louis but not in Tampa. I think the Bucs come out and make one last statement that they aren’t quite dead yet. The season is over, but if the Bucs have any interest in proving they haven’t already given up completely on Schiano, they must win this game.

Lockness #2 – UCLA (-1) vs Baylor

There is really only one guarantee about this game: points. Both teams can move the ball and score. The difference is that UCLA can also occasionally stop the other team. Both of these teams play in conferences home to wide open spread offenses but UCLA has seen more success in at least slowing those high scoring offenses. They are also getting better each week with first year coach Jim Mora Jr.

Wins over Washington State, Arizona and Arizona State, has shown UCLA has found a way to win over spread offenses.

Baylor has really only played defense in one game this year, their massive upset of Kansas State. But that involved in essentially stopping one player. UCLA has multiple threats in quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Johnathan Franklin. Just ask West Virginia and their 70-point scoring binge how Baylor handles a multi-headed threat.

Given a month to prepare, Mora can find a way to slow the Bears offense. Last year, Baylor gave up 56 points to Washington in the Alamo Bowl – more points than Washington scored in any game all season.

Lockness #3 –Tease of the Week: Buffalo (+10.5) at Miami, Indianapolis (-1) at Kansas City, Chicago (+.5) at Arizona

A simple theme for my tease this week: better teams on the road. Indy and Chicago are clearly better than their opponents and the teases lines mean they all they have to do is win.

Buffalo coming off the destruction at the hands of the Seahawks in Toronto go to division rival Miami and can lose by two scores and still cover. I think Buffalo is better than that and have already beaten Miami in Buffalo earlier this season. They may not win outright again, but I think they can keep it close.

Lockness #4 – Hail Mary of the Week: Ohio Moneyline (+250) vs Louisiana-Monroe

We’ve all been there. Bets have been going against us all day. Down to one last bet, it just isn’t worth trying to win less than double our money because when you are trapped at the bottom of a well, 3 feet off the ground is still deep in the well. We need the big score to get back. We could look for a parlay and hope 5 or 6 things all break our way or we can find one highly improbable thing that might, maybe, possibly, could happen and go all-in on it. This is the ‘Break Glass in Case of Emergency’ bet in the sports book.

Around the middle of September if you had told someone that these two teams are meeting in a bowl game, they very well may have thought you were talking about a BCS bowl. Ohio opened the season with a win at Penn State. ULM followed it up with an upset of Arkansas a week later. Both were getting hype as potential BCS-busters.

Unfortunately, reality can sometimes be ruder than a toy store employee on Christmas Eve. Ohio lost 4 of their final 5 games. ULM lost 4 games giving up more than 40 points in three of those losses with the fourth being at the hands of an Auburn team on the way to getting their coach fired two years after lifting the BCS National Championship trophy.

None of this has changed the core nature of each program – ULM is a high scoring, no defense team in the model of West Virginia or Baylor (who gave the Warhawks their second defeat 47-42). Ohio is mid-western, run first offense relying on quarterback Tyler Tettleton to pass and run out of a more traditional offense while playing at least some defense.

Is Ohio too far gone at this point? Will ULM just bury them in a hail of long passes? Possibly. But a month off to re-group from a disappointing end of season helps Ohio regain some of the confidence lost in the downward spiral that came off their first loss of the season to Miami-Ohio back in October. At +250 I will take my chances that Frank Solich finds way to get the Bobcats ready.

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