Even though mainstream media outlets are still somewhat hesitant to talk about sports betting angles, a point spread theme has already stuck to Texas football coach Tom Herman like glue. You’ll surely hear about it whenever the Longhorns play a prominent TV game (like Saturday night vs. LSU on ABC at 6:30 p.m.).
▪ Herman’s teams are great as underdogs. Last season’s 28-21 upset of Georgia in the Sugar Bowl brought the record at Texas and Houston to 13-2-1 against the spread. Texas also scored outright upsets of Oklahoma (48-45 as a 7-point underdog), and TCU (31-16 getting a field goal).
▪ Herman’s teams are overpriced as favorites. Last season, Texas went 0-4 ATS when laying double digits, missing expectations by 17.5, 15.5, 8, and 8.5 against Maryland, Tulsa, Baylor, and Kansas.
Is it really that easy? Can you win money long term betting something simple like “take Herman as a dog, fade him as a favorite?”
Probably not. Among the reasons…
▪ Given the large number of sports teams and coaches, it’s very likely that many will show dog/favorite tendencies (or home/road, day/night, etc…) just from random chance. Looking back, you can data mine items that sound important but turn to dust as soon as you find them.
▪ Even if there were real-world tendencies in play, the market will eventually adjust. If the whole world bets Herman as a dog, the line will come down so far that value will be lost. If the whole world bests opposing dogs, same thing.
▪ If those tendencies were relevant, opposing coaches would start making adjustments. Favorites would be vigilant about not letting their players get overconfident by showing game film of the upsets. Oklahoma got a second crack at Texas last season, beating the Horns 39-27 with a yardage edge of 508-437 in the Big 12 Championship game.
▪ Herman himself might do something about lackadaisical efforts vs. bad teams. Championship contenders must bring peak intensity every week, not once a month.
Whether random or real, time will tell how long Herman’s point spread characteristics will hold. Handicappers would be well-served to focus on turnovers. Herman’s teams have done a very good job of winning that category in big games. Texas had an edge of 9-0 in those upsets of TCU, Oklahoma, and Georgia last season. Good luck repeating something that extreme. No team can execute perfectly vs. quality opposition on purpose in perpetuity.
In last season’s failures as big favorites, it was 7-4 the other way. If you believe randomness has a large impact on turnovers, this is where the tide could turn.
As you watch Texas-LSU Saturday night, focus on team and player skill sets. VSiN always emphasizes that approach. Whether or not Texas can make a run at the Big 12 title and a potential playoff spot will depend more on team talent than who’s laying a small spread, or getting points.
And, from the visiting perspective, LSU can be taken more seriously as a threat in the SEC if it impresses in this litmus test in Austin. Results in later battles with Florida, Mississippi State, Auburn, Alabama, and Texas A&M could be foreshadowed in this must-see matchup.
At the midweek point, LSU was a 6-point favorite.
▪ Before settling in in for LSU/Texas, local sports bettors will intently watching Southern Miss (1-0) at Mississippi State (ESPNU, 2:30 p.m.). These Magnolia State rivals haven’t played since 2015. State won that one 34-16 in Hattiesburg, failing to cover as 21-point road favorites.
MSU (1-0) opened as an 18.5-point favorite, but stood at 17 points by the middle of the week.
▪ Ole Miss (0-1) will be playing its SEC opener vs. Arkansas (1-0) at the same time as LSU/Texas (SEC Network, 6:30 p.m.).The Rebels won last year’s meeting 37-33 in Fayetteville, but failed to cover laying 6.5 points. It was fifth and final victory of the regular season for Ole Miss before five straight losses.
▪ Last week, VSiN discussed the markets tendency to underrated the SEC in inter-conference action. Other marquee matchups this week vs. outsiders: Texas A&M at Clemson (ABC, 2:30 p.m.), and Tennessee vs. BYU (ESPN, 6:30 p.m.) Be sure you keep track of the SEC’s straight up and ATS results vs. other leagues throughout the month.
VSiN returns late this week to talk pro football, featuring betting market perspective on the New Orleans Saints’ season opener against the Houston Texans. The NFL season officially kicks off Thursday night when the Green Bay Packers visit the Chicago Bears (NBC, 7:20 p.m.).