College football kicks off

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN City newsletter) 

Hawaii and Wyoming launch 2018 college football with double-digit covers. Plus, a recap of MLB and WNBA action and a look at tennis exchange prices in the US Open. You know there’s always a thunderous racket in VSiN City! 

College Football: Hawaii humbles poorly prepared CSU; Wyoming ready to bully Mountain West

We had promised to talk NFL dress rehearsals here in the Monday report. But what a wasted weekend THAT was! Many coaches have (sanely) decided that injury avoidance is a top priority. It almost felt like fake football across the schedule. So few stats are going to matter that we’re not going to waste your time with them. Handicappers should focus on logical assumptions regarding team skill sets until meaningful stats exist to provide context.

Plenty of meaningful stats and context in the first two college football board games of the 2018 season. Let’s take them in the order they were played. 

Hawaii (plus 17) 43, Colorado State 34 

Total Yardage: Hawaii 617, Colorado State 653

Yards-per-Play: Hawaii 8.5, Colorado State 8.6

Rushing Yards: Hawaii 199, Colorado State 116

Passing Stats: Hawaii 26-37-0-418, Colorado State 34-51-1-537

Turnovers: Hawaii 1, Colorado State 1

Slightly misleading final score and stat totals. Hawaii was truly dominating (which is extremely odd for a 17-point underdog) on its way to a 37-7 second-half lead. TD drives of 75-67-46-75-70 yards. So, no gift TD or fluky returns. Colorado State’s defense played like it had never heard of the shovel pass.

Once Hawaii started to tire at altitude with that huge lead, Colorado State took full advantage in short order. Big pass plays. Not quite enough to make it a game…but enough to make it less embarrassing. 

Hawaii’s Cole McDonald might make you bet the farm if the market keeps disrespecting his team. CSU’s K.J. Carta-Samuels, a graduate transfer from Washington, showed you why he had trouble cracking the starting lineup there. During the worst of times, he and his receivers were on completely different pages. He did impress once his opponents ran out of gas. Most opposing defense will be better than Hawaii’s. 

Congrats to any of you who took a flyer on Hawaii on the money line. 

Wyoming (-6) 29, New Mexico State 7 

Total Yardage: Wyoming 449, N. Mexico State 135

Yards-per-Play: Wyoming 5.7, N. Mexico State 2.8

Rushing Yards: Wyoming 312, N. Mexico State minus 9

Passing Stats: Wyoming 13-22-0-137, N. Mexico State 18-33-0-144

Turnovers: Wyoming 0, N. Mexico State 0

Wyoming’s defense is ready for the national spotlight. A lot of experience returning to what was already a strong unit last season. New Mexico State’s offense looked like a high school team all night. 

Interesting quandary for handicappers regarding the Wyoming quarterback position. Last year’s starter Josh Allen had an NFL arm, but wasn’t really a positive influence on the team overall (his negatives cancelled out his positives). New QB Tyler Vander Waal was able to stay out of the way…but didn’t really pop for big passing yardage. Wyoming’s going to steamroll opponents who can’t stop the run. Can they be trusted when facing better run defenses? 

Bad market misses in both games in terms of skill sets. We’ll need more games before we know if Hawaii is greatly improved, or CSU very overrated. Wyoming is in a higher class than NMSU given rushing yards and YPP.

Before we get to the other sports let’s quickly look at the CFL…

CFL: Montreal gets second win! Calgary bounces back strong

Johnny Football keeps going to places that find out they have better quarterback options. Antonio Pipken gets a win for the Alouettes. 

Montreal (plus 5) 25, Toronto 22 

Total Yardage: Toronto 354, Montreal 388

Yards-per-Play: Toronto 6.6, Montreal 7.3

Rushing Yards: Toronto 58, Montreal 85

Passing Stats: Toronto 26-37-0-296, Montreal 22-32-1-303

Turnovers: Toronto 1, Montreal 1

Clean victory across the board. More yardage volume and better yards-per-play. Montreal is now 2-8 on the season. Embarrassed Toronto falls to 3-6. Poor result for McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Maybe he’s a guy you can take as an underdog because he can move the ball some…but not a guy you can lay points with. Toronto’s numbers don’t look so bad until you remember that Edmonton coasted to 560 yards on this Montreal defense last week, and Ottawa reached 601 the week before. 

Calgary (-9) 39, Winnipeg 26

Total Yardage: Winnipeg 376, Calgary 515

Yards-per-Play: Winnipeg 6.3, Calgary 9.0

Rushing Yards: Winnipeg 53, Calgary 58

Passing Stats: Winnipeg 30-45-2-323, Calgary 26-43-0-458

Turnovers: Winnipeg 2, Calgary 1

Calgary bounced back well from its first loss of the season. Though, it took them a half to get it going. Winnipeg was up 15-12 at the break. Ultimately huge numbers for the Grey Cup favorite Stampeders. Winnipeg is GOOD when its QB is healthy (like now), yet the Blue Bombers got squashed. Calgary moves to 8-1 on the season. Winnipeg is 5-5. 

Saskatchewan (plus 3) 24, British Columbia 21 

Total Yardage: Saskatchewan 301, B. Columbia 314

Yards-per-Play: Saskatchewan 6.0, B. Columbia 6.2

Rushing Yards: Saskatchewan 86, B. Columbia 74

Passing Stats: Saskatchewan 19-32-1-215, B. Columbia 21-36-0-240

Turnovers: Saskatchewan 2, B. Columbia 2

Competitive game that was fun to watch if you like the CFL. Saskatchewan moves to 5-4 on the season, while BC falls to 3-6. 

Our estimate of “market” Power Ratings in the CFL based on this past weekend’s point spreads…

87: Calgary

81: Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Hamilton

79: Saskatchewan, British Columbia

76: Toronto 

68: Montreal

Teams behind Calgary fell down into a tight bunch this week in pricing. We’ll have to see if that holds. Edmonton had been higher, but then lost at Hamilton after the market faded them. 

WNBA: Series favorites Washington and Seattle win semifinal round openers 

We’re now to the best-of-five semifinal rounds after last week’s knockouts. Washington was favored on the road over rested #2 seed Atlanta…and played to that market respect. Seattle is still the team to beat because of three-point shooting and balance. Here are the numbers from Sunday’s series openers in the order they were played. 

Washington (-2.5) 87, Atlanta 84 

2-point Pct: Washington 37%, Atlanta 49%

3-pointers: Washington 11/26, Atlanta 6/21

Free Throws: Washington 20/20, Atlanta 16/22

Rebounds: Washington 37, Atlanta 40

Turnovers: Washington 4, Atlanta 8

Washington is peaking at the right time. And, Elena Delle Donne is in great form. Machine-like game here, with 32 points and 13 rebounds. She was 10 of 22 from the floor and 10 of 10 from the free throw line. No secret that opponents have to stop HER. 

Atlanta did hang close because of superior inside shooting and a few extra rebounds. Washington built a big in-game lead, but finished right at the number. Good news for Atlanta is that Washington got a great game from EDD, only turned the ball over four times…but still had to sweat the ending. 

Seattle (-7) 91, Phoenix 87

2-point Pct: Phoenix 62%, Seattle 49%

3-pointers: Phoenix 10/26, Seattle 13/32

Free Throws: Phoenix 9/10, Seattle 12/13

Rebounds: Phoenix 33, Seattle 31

Turnovers: Phoenix 16, Seattle 11

Phoenix can also make treys, so it has a chance to hang with Seattle (the “Golden State” of the league in terms of offensive style). Diana Taurasi had 25 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in a losing effort, hurt by six turnovers because she was trying to force the action. Seattle’s Breanna Stewart was named league MVP over the weekend. She scored 28 points, highlighted by six of nine on treys. (Note that Seattle’s starters were 13 of 26 on treys…a success rate that’s going to be tough for any opponent to overcome.)

Both series resume Tuesday at the same sites. Tipoffs are at 8 and 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Game Threes are Friday in Washington and Phoenix. Game Fours if necessary will be Sunday in those cities.

A quick update of our estimated “market” Power Ratings based on playoff point spreads… 

WNBA “Market” Power Ratings

87: Seattle 

86: Washington

83: Phoenix

81: Atlanta

It’s possible Washington’s recent form has them even with Seattle in the eyes of the market. We won’t know for sure unless both advance. 

MLB: Three teams in our “Magnificent 7” post 5-1 weeks 

You regulars know we check in every Monday on the “Magnificent 7,” as Brent Musburger dubbed them before the season started. These are the seven teams who were projected by betting markets to top 90 victories in 2018. 

Current records entering the new week…

Boston 90-42…plus 28.5 units after a 2-5 week

NY Yankees 83-47…plus 3 units after a 5-1 week

Chicago Cubs 76-53…plus 2.5 units after a 5-1 week

Houston 80-50…minus 8.5 units after a 5-1 week

Cleveland 74-56…minus 15 units after a 3-4 week

Washington 65-66…minus 26 units after a 3-3 week

LA Dodgers 70-61…minus 27.5 units after a 3-3 week

Boston hit a rare rough patch, with so much margin for error that it probably doesn’t matter. New York crushed a weak schedule, with another easy week straight ahead. As we discussed during the week, the Chicago Cubs are starting to get some distance from the NL pack. All three of those teams are in the black…with the Yanks and Cubs rallying to get on the right side of net zero.

No games this week where M7 teams are playing each other. Several do have important games against other contenders though. 

Early Week Series Matching Contenders

Oakland (79-52) at Houston (80-50) (starts Monday)

Just one, but it’s a doozy. Oakland is 45-16 its last 61 games. Houston’s recent dry spell looks to be tied to the absence of Jose Altuve. When he came back from injury, the Astros played like champions again. 

Late Week Series Matching Winning Teams

One-game makeup Thursday: Chicago Cubs (76-53) at Atlanta (73-57) 

Arizona (72-58) at the LA Dodgers (70-61) (starts Thursday)

Seattle (74-57) at Oakland (79-52) (starts Thursday)

Chicago Cubs (76-53) at Philadelphia (70-60) (starts Friday)

Weird to have a potential playoff preview for just one game in the middle of the week. Cubs and Braves both had an open day to make up an earlier postponement. The Dodgers better get things in gear or a divisional title will become an even longer shot. Huge week for the A’s, obviously. 

MLB: Pennant races in shorthand

Easy to check in on our pennant race “shorthand” presentation on a Monday morning. As we’ve mentioned a few times, we think this is the easiest way to mentally absorb the races. The numbers you see below are games over .500. 

NL East: Atlanta plus 16, Philadelphia plus 10

NL Central: Chicago plus 23, St. Louis plus 15, Milwaukee plus 14

NL West: Arizona plus 14, Colorado plus 12, LA Dodgers plus 9

Cubs aren’t quite safe yet to win the NL Central…but are a virtual lock to reach the postseason unless they go on a surprisingly long losing streak. Wildcard race still a mess, with the Dodgers still FIFTH in the battle for those two spots. Amazing run for the Cards since the All-Star break. 

AL East: Boston plus 48, NY Yankees plus 36 

AL Central: Cleveland plus 18

AL West: Houston plus 30, Oakland plus 27, Seattle plus 17

Oakland/Houston series is HUGE. Seattle can jump back in with a big weekend. 

US Open Tennis: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams pre-tourney favorites

The US Open gets underway Monday morning in New York. Things are about to get VERY busy with football content here in VSiN City. But we’ll try to update Betfair exchange odds to win the championship through the fortnight. 

You’ll recall this format from golf majors. We use the overseas exchange numbers because they give a better sense of “true odds” thanks to more liquid markets and the ability to bet “no.” Click on the links below to see live prices whenever you wish. The number in blue is the payoff to win, and it includes a $1 unit initial stake. So, if you see 20 in blue, that means the player is 19/1 to win. The number in pink is what you have to lay that a player WON’T win the tournament. If you see a 20 in pink, that means you have to bet $19 to win $1 that the player WON’T win.

Click here for complete men’s odds.

Click here for complete women’s odds.

Men’s Championship

Novak Djokovic: risk $1 to win $2.45, risk $2.50 to win $1 that he won’t win

Rafael Nadal: risk $1 to win $2.95, risk $3 to win $1 that he won’t win

Roger Federer: risk $1 to win $6.40, risk $6.60 to win $1 that he won’t win

Alexander Zverev: risk $1 to win $13, risk $13.50 to win $1 that he won’t win

Juan Martin Del Potro: risk $1 to win $16, risk $17 to win $1 that he won’t win

Women’s Championship

Serena Williams: risk $1 to win $6.20, risk $6.60 to win $1 that she won’t win

Simona Halep: risk $1 to win $6.40, risk $6.60 to win $1 that she won’t win

Angelique Kerber: risk $1 to win $8.40, risk $8.60 to win $1 that she won’t win

Sloane Stephens: risk $1 to win $9, risk $9.50 to win $1 that she won’t win

Petra Kvitova: risk $1 to win $18, risk $26 to win $1 that she won’t win

Glad you’re back with us for a new week. See you Tuesday morning for a stat recap of the A’s/Astros opener and a whole lot more.

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