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Post-4th hangover: Power 5 Power Ratings for college football

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

July 5, 2017 12:01 AM

Editor's note: The link to the South Point sheets in the newsletter email is bad. This should work:

The fireworks are over, but your summer fun won’t slow down. Today we finish our Power 5 Power Ratings, discuss 5-inning MLB props, and explain how YOU could win an entry into the 2017 Westgate SuperContest!

College Football: Wrapping up our market Power Rating project with the Big 12 

Four down, one to go! Today we wrap up our project that turns settled “Game of the Year” point spreads into an estimate of “market” Power Ratings for the fast-approaching college football season. Here’s a look at the current lines for “conference only” matchups in the Big 12.

September 23

  • TCU plus 6.5 at Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State was a popular betting team for sharps right out of the gate. The market is currently giving the nod to the Cowboys over Texas as the likely runner-up behind Oklahoma. TCU grades out as “bowl caliber,” if not contending caliber given that early line. 

September 28

  • Texas -4.5 at Iowa State 

This is a Thursday night game. Iowa State has a knack for springing prime time TV upsets. But, Texas comes in off a bye after its trip to USC. 

October 7

  • Kansas State plus 7 at Texas 

Similar to what we just saw with TCU/Okie State. Kansas State is priced at bowl caliber, but not contending caliber. The market is expecting a quick leap to respectability for new Longhorn coach Tom Herman. 

October 14

  • Oklahoma -7.5 vs. Texas (in Dallas)
  • TCU plus 1 at Kansas State

Oklahoma’s first appearance in this breakdown shows they’re still well ahead of the field. That’s a neutral site grading obviously…so Texas will have to go 7-8 points below OU on our scale. Home field is worth something in Manhattan, so we can deduce that TCU is seen as a couple of points better than K-State entering the season.

October 21

  • Oklahoma -9 at Kansas State 

This is a road game for OU, so the Sooners must be at least 12 points better than K-State on our scale. That said, this could be a letdown spot for OU if they play well vs. hated rival Texas. 

October 28

  • Oklahoma State -4 at West Virginia 

More respect for Okie State…and some disrespect for West Virginia. That’s supposed to be a decent home field, particularly with the travel involved with this conference. 

November 4

  • Oklahoma -3 at Oklahoma State
  • Texas plus 1 at TCU 

Now we know that Oklahoma is seen as about six points better than OSU on a neutral field, and about 7-8 better than Texas. So, it’s the Sooners’ conference to win under new head coach Lincoln Riley. Texas grades out as a bit better than TCU once you factor in home field value in Fort Worth. 

November 11

  • West Virginia plus 7.5 at Kansas State
  • Texas Tech plus 6 vs. Baylor (in Arlington)

Unfortunately for connectivity, Tech and Baylor are only listed against each other in the early South Point postings. We’ll stick them in logical spots based on the summer newsstand publications. 

November 18

  • Texas -3 at West Virginia

Interesting test for the Horns because it will be their third road game in four weeks, and comes right after a big revenge game against Kansas. Yes, revenge against KANSAS. 

There are several early non-conference games matching Big 12 teams against prominent outsiders (OU/Ohio State, Texas/USC to name a couple). So, it’s easy to slide the differentials onto our prior scale. First, the Big 12 by itself. 

Big 12

  • 86: Oklahoma
  • 80: Oklahoma State
  • 78: Texas
  • 76: TCU, Baylor
  • 74: Kansas State
  • 72: West Virginia 
  • 71: Iowa State
  • 70: Texas Tech
  • (no listing yet for Kansas)

We know that Baylor is seen as SIX better than Texas Tech by the market in that neutral field meeting in Dallas. We went with 76 and 70…but it could turn out that 77 and 71 is better, or 75 and 69 if the Bears continue to fall from their prior heights. Might be awhile before anyone knows for sure about Baylor because they open with Liberty, UTSA, and Duke. Game Four vs. Oklahoma will be a test. 

Now, the Big 12 goes into our Power 5 scale…

  • 90-91: Ohio State
  • 88 or 89: Alabama
  • 87: Washington
  • 85 or 86: USC, Penn State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma
  • 84: Clemson
  • 83: Florida State, Stanford
  • 81 or 82: LSU, Michigan, Louisville 
  • 80: Auburn, Oklahoma State
  • 79: Georgia
  • 78: Texas
  • 77: Florida, Virginia Tech
  • 75-76: Texas A&M, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Northwestern, Minnesota, Oregon, UCLA, Colorado, Washington State, Miami, TCU, Baylor
  • 73-74: Kentucky, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Iowa, Utah, Oregon State, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Kansas State
  • 72: NC State, West Virginia
  • 71: Iowa State
  • 69-70: Vanderbilt, Michigan State, Texas Tech
  • 67-68: South Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Virginia
  • 64: California, Rutgers 
  • (No listing yet for Missouri, Maryland, Purdue, Illinois Syracuse, Wake Forest, Boston College, Duke, or Kansas)

Most of our work is complete for the major programs. But, not quite all of it…

College Football: Adding in Notre Dame, BYU, and Army

There are a few major Independents we have to deal with. Easy to add those in. First, the following South Point lines are already posted vs. teams on our master list for Notre Dame and BYU.

  • September 9: BYU plus 12.5 vs. LSU (in Houston)
  • September 9: Georgia -1 at Notre Dame (ND is about 4 worse than Georgia)
  • September 23: Notre Dame -4 at Michigan State (ND is about 7 better than MSU)
  • October 21: USC -7 at Notre Dame (ND is about 10 worse than USC)
  • November 25: Notre Dame plus 9 at Stanford (ND is about six worse than Stanford)

BYU is going to register around 69-70 based on that neutral site spread against LSU. Notre Dame is centering around 76 on our scale, perceived as inferior to USC, Stanford, and Georgia, but well ahead of Michigan State. 

We can get to Army by way of Navy and Notre Dame, thanks to these “Game of the Year” spreads…  

  • November 18: Navy plus 12 at Notre Dame
  • December 9: Army plus 4 vs. Navy in Philadelphia

If Notre Dame is 76…then Navy is about 67 after you adjust three points for home field. If Navy is 67, then Army is going to register at 63 because they’re getting four points from the Middies on a neutral field. 

  • The Independents: Notre Dame 76, BYU 69, Army 63.

We hope you enjoyed this mini-project in college football. Not only do we have a better sense of what’s ahead in 2017…but those of you who are new to sports betting now have a deeper understanding of how pointspreads can be used to create a “market” Power Rating scale in any sport. The better you understand the market, the better able you are to beat it. 

MLB: Handicapping “first five inning” props

The last two Wednesdays, we’ve talked about laying -1.5 runs, and then taking plus 1.5 runs on the Major League baseball run line. This week, we’ll dig deeper into the thought process for handicapping 5-inning propositions. 

You probably know that sportsbooks offer a “first half” option in baseball similar to those available in football and basketball. You don’t have to bet the full game. You can also bet the first half if you believe you’ve got a read on coaching or team tendencies…or want to take the whims of garbage time out of the mix. For baseball, “first half” means the first five FULL innings. The score AT THE END OF FIVE determines team side and total winners. If a game is tied 0-0, 1-1, 2-2, etc…then that’s a push on either team side and the bet is refunded. 

Generally speaking, you most often hear casual fans talk about 5-inning options when they’ve just watched a bullpen implode. “If I would have bet the first five innings I would have won!” That gets even louder if one team has a series of implosions thanks to a shaky bullpen. 

But, honestly, that by itself is NOT a good reason to bet 5-inning props. Too many bettors focus on “avoiding pain” rather than making smart bets. It’s nerve-wracking to root for the inferior team, so the general public bets favorites. It’s scary to lay a lot of points or a big moneyline, so the general public uses teasers to lower the points or parlays to lower the price. We talked two weeks ago about how the general public lays -1.5 runs in baseball to make big favorites seem cheaper, without thinking through the true value of that run they just gave away. Bettors HATE it when they think they’re about to celebrate a win…only to have the rug ripped out from under them at the last second by a blown save. 

Yes, losing that way stinks. But, you’re focused on what it FEELS like to lose that full game bet, rather than considering the complexities of the 5-inning option. 

Betting the 5-inning option…

  • Takes the bullpen out of play, but takes the bats out of your best hitters’ hands at least twice
  • Takes the endgame out of play, but may emphasize trying to score early in shadows at dusk
  • Doesn’t give your offense much time to rally back if your starter has a bad inning
  • Doesn’t give your offense a shot at a tired starter in the sixth, or mediocre middle relievers
  • Doesn’t let your good manager outsmart a bad manager late with the game on the line

The Washington Nationals have a poor bullpen. Do you really want to take the bat out of Bryce Harper’s hands twice, particularly if his first at bat is going to be in tough sunset visibility against a fresh starting pitcher? The answer is obviously yes, sometimes. But it’s not universally yes. 

And if you’ve decided you absolutely, positively have to bet on a certain team in a way that won’t let their closer blow the game for you, have you asked yourself…

  • How likely is your team to put runs on the board with just two cycles through the heart of the batting order (which may only be one “true” cycle if early game shadows make it tough to hit in the first and second inning)?
  • Is the righty/lefty dynamic of your batting order well-suited or poorly suited to score against this particular opposing starter? 
  • What is your own pitcher’s ERA just in the first five innings this season? Is he an early machine, or a guy who is prone to let one early inning get away from him?
  • Do the stadium and weather conditions favor your offense, or your opponent’s offense?
  • Is there a good chance your offense will get enough runners on base early to create a big fifth inning dynamo when your 3-4-5 hitters get to come up for a third time? Or, is there a danger you’ll be stuck with the 7-8-9 hitters up in the fifth when you have to score a run before the first half window slams shut? 

Five-inning options are their own props…detached from the full game decisions. And the way to determine if value exists is to focus on the dynamics that are in play in those five innings…rather than just dodging some dynamic that you’re scared to death of in the ninth. 

Oh, it doesn’t have to be an “either/or” scenario! Quants can get gradings on a team for both the first half and full game if both are priced incorrectly. The Dodgers ended this past weekend 20-4 their last 24 games, and 15-6-3 after five innings of those games. Do you want to ignore LAD as a first half option just because they have a great closer? Sure, 20-4 is better than 15-6-3 if you’re forcing yourself to pick one or the other. A betting record of 35-10-3 is pretty gaudy as a combo.

We’ll do our best amidst the busy daily baseball coverage to squeeze in more talk about five-inning options. For now, the simplest advice is: focus on finding value, not avoiding anger. 

NBA: Wayward Hayward Boston bound

It took almost all of July Fourth for the “will he or won’t he” see-saw saga of Gordon Hayward to come to an end. Late Tuesday, Hayward (and his PR camp) finally confirmed through an article in “The Players Tribune” that he would be signing with the Boston Celtics. 

Hayward is a star player, so his move did influence the futures markets. The Westgate lifted Boston from 15/1 to win the NBA title to 12/1 (or, from 6% in percentage equivalent to 8%), while dropping Utah’s chances from 100/1 to 200/1 (or, from a 1% chance to half of 1%). 

VSiN City: All subscribers eligible for drawing to win a free spot in the Westgate SuperContest!

If you were out of pocket celebrating the holiday, you missed a big announcement! Subscribers to VSiN City will be eligible for a drawing on August 19 when the lucky winner will receive a free entry into the annual Westgate SuperContest. That’s a $1,500 value! If you’re already a subscriber, you’re already entered to win that spot in the prestigious NFL handicapping challenge. But, if you haven’t yet signed up for the free subscription, you can click here to take care of that and earn your auto-entry in the drawing. (Don’t forget that subscribers also get links to the daily South Point betting sheets in an easy-to-use PDF format with their weekday morning email delivery).

Thanks to all of you who have followed us on Twitter. That’s a great way to keep up with big announcements like the one above, or catch snippets of daily programming while you work. Stragglers can click here to follow us.

If you have any questions or comments about the newsletter or VSiN programming, please drop us a note

Back with you Thursday to see how college football futures prices line up with our “market” Power Rating scale…and to check in again on baseball and the CFL.

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