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BOILERHONK’S GAMBLERS GUIDE TO COLLEGE FOOTBALL PONKS

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Fade Clay Travis

NCAA Football: Foster Farms Bowl-Arizona vs Purdue Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Last year went pretty well as the resident investor/degenerate on this here blog. I finished in the black (in PONKS), ended the season on a 10-5 streak, and then blew he winnings on a college basketball algorithm on low major programs playing back-to-backs.

AND SO IT GOES.

So we’re starting with a nice and tidy sheet as we roll into COLLEGE FOOTBALL. And let me tell you, I am geared up for the start of it. First, let’s take a look back through last year’s guide to see what went right and what went wrong.

A little self-reflection never hurt.

REVIEW FROM LAST YEAR:

Step #0: Avoid the sportsbook as much as possible
Pandemic-related advice. We can chuck it so long as you’re vaxxed. Stay safe out there.

Step #1: Don’t be afraid to bet against your favorite team
Maybe be afraid to, there’s nothing worse than hedging your happiness. Those dollars don’t fill the hole you made in your heart by betting against them.

Step #2: Do the due diligence of predicting the season
Love it. More to come.

Step #3: Don’t be afraid of the obvious bets
Same. But be smarter.

Step #4: When in doubt, bet the over
It was written at a time when games had happened and overs were hitting at a > 50% rate. It’s more fun but ... not the proper bet.

Step #5: Don’t bet outside your means
Obviously. Probably move this one up to for this season.

Last season’s preseason predictions:

2020 Prediction v Actual

Team Prediction Actual Games off-ish O/U Correct?
Team Prediction Actual Games off-ish O/U Correct?
Wisconsin 6-2 2-3 2.5 NO BET 6.5 N/A
Purdue 6-2 2-4 3 OVER 3.5 NO
Iowa 6-2 6-2 0 OVER 4.5 YES
Minnesota 4-4 3-3 0 UNDER 6 YES
Northwestern 3-5 6-1 3.5 NO BET 3.5 N/A
Illinois 2-6 2-5 0.5 NO BET 3 N/A
Nebraska 2-6 2-5 0.5 UNDER 4 YES
Ohio State 8-0 5-0 0 NO BET 8.5 N/A
Penn State 6-2 3-5 3 NO BET 7 N/A
Michigan 6-2 2-4 3 NO BET 6.5 N/A
Maryland 4-4 2-3 0.5 OVER 2 PUSH
Indiana 2-6 6-1 4.5 UNDER 4.5 NO
Rutgers 1-7 3-5 2 NO BET 1.5 N/A
Michigan State 0-8 2-5 2.5 UNDER 3 YES

So this is a little self-aggrandizing because in ones I declared lock-y, I went 4-2-1. Of ones I avoided, I actually went 5-2. Well well well.

That’s enough of that exercise, so let’s take a look at the adjusted steps.

Step #1: Track your picks/funds

With apps and websites and local options, this is... frankly an easy endeavor to let get away from yourself even if it is just a reallocation of beer funds or entertainment money. It’s in line with the final step from last season for this reason. It lets you understand what is going where, biases you may have, and allows you to hammer in on what you are “good” at.

Don’t bet outside your means is rolled into this because, well, with tracking goes a cleaner understanding of where you’re allocating those means. I’ll hop off my high horse now.

Perhaps the best way to frame how I’ll leverage last season’s learnings: this will begin as a Big Ten ONLY picks column to open the season. I was best when I remained focus on the conference and want to maintain that momentum.

Step #2: Predict the season

It worked last year, let’s DO IT AGAIN!

Big Ten West

1) Wisconsin Badgers (11-1, 8-1)
T-2) Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 5-4) (note: Please no comments at this time)
T-2) Northwestern Wildcats (8-4, 5-4)
4) Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-5, 4-5)
T-5) Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-7, 3-6)
T-5) Purdue Boilermakers (5-7, 3-6)
7) Illinois Fighting Illini (4-8, 2-7)

Big Ten East

1) Penn State Nittany Lions (11-1, 9-0)
2) Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1, 8-1)
T-3) Michigan Wolverines (9-3, 6-3)
T-3) Indiana Hoosiers (8-4, 6-3)
5) Maryland Terrapins (5-7, 4-5)
6) Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-8, 1-8)
7) Michigan State Spartans (2-10, 0-9)

I reserve the right to change these ahead of the first PONKS selections.

Step #3: Don’t be afraid of the obvious bets

First and foremost, this means fading Nebraska. I’ll get into it more next week but I am verrry confident in Bert heading over the Atlantic.

As it pertains to season-long bets...here’s what recently hit my inbox from sportsbetting.ag, a totally reputable site:

Big Ten Futures

Team O/U Division Conference
Team O/U Division Conference
Wisconsin 9.5 (-130 / +100) -125 +500
Iowa 8.5 (+120 / -150) +175 +1200
Northwestern 6.5 (-115 / -115) +1600 +2500
Minnesota 7 (-115 / -115) +1000 +2000
Nebraska 6.5 (-120 / -110) +1000 +1600
Purdue 5 (-130 / +100) +3300 +5000
Illinois 3.5 (-150 / +120) +5000 +10000
Penn State 8.5 (-120 / -110) +600 +900
Ohio State 11 (-115 / -115) -450 -240
Michigan 7.5 (-120 / -110) +800 +1200
Indiana 7.5 (-115 / -115) +1000 +1600
Maryland 6 (+105 / -135) +5000 +5000
Rutgers N/A N/A +5000
Michigan State 5 (-120 / -110) +4000 +5000

Based on my predictions, which again I reserve the right to change...here are the bets I should make (difference of 1.5)

  • PSU +600 to win the East, +900 to win the conference
  • Wisconsin -125 (yuck) to win the West
  • Over: Wisconsin, 9.5; Penn State, 8.5; Michigan 7.5; Northwestern 6.5
  • Under: Iowa, 8.5; Nebraska, 6.5; Michigan State, 5

Definitely gonna pull Wisconsin & Penn State from column A, Nebraska & Michigan State from column B, and a dash of ILLINOIS OVER from column C.

TBD on any others.

Step #4: If there’s a future game line you like right now...take it

Iowa State laying 7.5 in a matchup they haven’t won by 8 or more since 2005 is certainly one which qualifies. I mean, it took Iowa’s starting quarterback to throw an interception and then concuss himself tackling the guy for that result to happen.

Sure, things can happen between now and any future game, including it turning against you.


As it stands now...there are no more steps. With a year of PONKS under my belt comes a year of wisdom by staying on the straight and narrow with tracking, predicting the season, and not being afraid of the obvious.

I’m sure there will be more to come but let’s enjoy this season - it’s sure to be a great one...

Unless my temporary Iowa prediction comes through.