LAS VEGAS – The plays of the two finalists in the $190,000 Friday Football Showdown at the Golden Nugget were announced Friday afternoon on The Las Vegas Sportsline radio show, but the action started before the show aired and the day ended with DMill holding a 1-game lead over Mucked Nuts.
The Friday Football Showdown drew 94 entrants this year who put up the $2,000 entry fee and made seven selections a week (with a choice of all available NCAA and NFL sides and total on the GN contest card) for 12 weeks with the Top 16 advancing to a head-to-head bracket format. The contestants using the aliases Mucked Nuts and DMill are the last two standing as they battle this weekend for the $60,000 first-place prize with the runner-up settling for $30,000.
Mucked Nuts is the alias of Las Vegas professional bettor Chris Kozak who actually is the defending champion, so that’s quite an admirable feat to make the finals for the second straight year against a strong field.
DMill is the alias of Vegas advantage player and pro sports bettor David Miller, who also has had a lot of success in Vegas handicapping contests, highlighted by the 2014 SuperContest when his two entries finished seventh and 10th, respectively, to earn a combined $147,000. Miller is also on a nice two-year run in this contest as he had the third-best record during the 12-week preliminary round after just missing the cut last year (when only the top 8 made the playoffs).
This weekend’s submission deadline was 2 p.m. PT Friday, but the contest lines were posted on Thursday like they are all season long with the option of playing earlier games.
Kozak put his plays in at 9:55 a.m. PT Friday before the kickoff of the Wake Forest-Texas A&M matchup in the Belk Bowl. He obviously wanted to get in on the Under 65 as the line had dropped to 63 around town and 62 at the Golden Nugget. However, he lost that play when it flew way over in Wake Forest’s 55-52 victory.
Miller, who designated me as his proxy to give out his plays on the radio show (note: I’m not a partner, nor did I have any input on any plays and have no vested interest), had me mention on the show that he was pretty sure Kozak would be on that play as it was the advantageous type of play that they’ve both been using all season (though Miller decided to pass). He was confident that he was off to an early lead and it would be in his favor to have as many common plays as possible to shorten the contest.
Miller correctly predicted Mucked Nuts would also take the North Carolina St.-Arizona St. Over 59.5 on the contest line (which was an obvious play as it was bet up to 63 around Vegas and as high as 65 at Station Casinos). He liked it so much that he made it his best bet, but so did Kozak. So, they both won their best bet in NC State’s 52-31 win over ASU.
For the uninitiated, the seventh (bottom) play is used as a tiebreaker if the two contestants end up with the same record. If the best bet has the same result, it then moves backward until a tie is broken. If still tied, the next tiebreaker is the number of points by which the best bet won or lost and again working backward through the picks.
The bad news for Kozak is that the Wake Forest-Texas A&M Over was his second-best bet, so Miller would hold the tiebreaker if their common play on the Dolphins plus-3 wins or pushes. If that loses (which would mean Kozak would lose the next tiebreaker), Miller can also take the tiebreaker with a win on his standalone pick of the Raiders plus-8 at the L.A. Chargers.
The good news for Kozak is that Miller also used Arizona St. plus-7 in the Sun Bowl, so they were both 1-1 after that game. Miller still had to be considered a slight favorite at that point, and even moreso after Kozak lost his next play on the Utah St.-Mexico St. Over 62.5 as New Mexico St. beat Utah St. 26-20 in overtime.
In Friday night's Cotton Bowl, Miller had Ohio St. -8 and improve to 2-1 as the Buckeyes beat USC 24-7, giving him a 1-point lead as Kozak is 1-2 (and already 0-2 on his non-common plays to put him in a bigger hole).
Neither has a play in Saturday's bowl games. Sunday's action starts with Kozak's standalone play on the Colts -4.5 against the Texans during the early kickoffs (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT). In the later games, in addition to the common Dolphins play, they also both have the 49ers -3 vs. the Rams. Miller's two standalone games are also in that window with the aforementioned Raiders plus-8 at the Chargers and the Buccaneers plus-7 against the Saints.
Kozak's final play isn't until the noon ET/9 a.m. PT kickoff of the Outback Bowl with South Carolina plus-8 against Michigan.
Here are all their plays for the weekend (remember: they’re listed in order with the best bet last for use in case a tiebreaker is needed):
#3 DMILL/David Miller (2-1)
49ERS -3 vs. Rams
OHIO ST -8 vs. Southern Cal ***WIN***
BUCCANEERS plus-7 vs. Saints
ARIZONA ST. plus-7 vs. NC ST. ***LOSS***
RAIDERS plus-8 at Chargers
DOLPHINS plus-3 vs. Bills
NC ST.-ARIZONA ST. OVER 59½ ***WIN***
#5 MUCKED NUTS/Chris Kozak (1-2)
COLTS -4½ vs. Texans
SOUTH CAROLINA plus-8 vs. Michigan
UTAH ST.-NEW MEXICO ST. OVER 62½ ***LOSS***
49ERS -3 vs. Rams
DOLPHINS plus-3 at Bills
WAKE FOREST-TEXAS A&M UNDER 65 ***LOSS***
NC ST.-ARIZONA ST. OVER 59½ ***WIN***
In addition to the $60,000 first-place prize and $30,000 runner-up prize that Miller and Kozak are fighting for, all 16 playoff qualifiers earned $3,000 apiece at the conclusion of the preliminary rounds. Miller also earned a $3,000 bonus for being among the top four seeds and received a double-bye through to the quarterfinal round. Kozak then earned $1,000 for each of his victories in the first two rounds. We’ll have the full list of prize distributions in our recap article here at VSiN.com on Sunday night.