Vegas Sports Masters Blog
Back to Blog Home…

Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 7:00 AM

You’ll often hear a bunch of old-time handicappers say something like “you should always take double digit underdogs in bowl games.” Well, what happens when there are hardly any double digit lines! Utah State, who will be facing Texas-El Paso Saturday afternoon in the New Mexico Bowl, is currently one of just THREE double digit favorites in the 2014-15 college postseason.


Current Lines

Utah State is -10.5 vs. UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl

Marshall is -10 vs. Northern Illinois in the Boca Raton Bowl

Stanford is -14 over Maryland in the Foster Farms Bowl (in Santa Clara)

That’s it! And, it’s possible that only Stanford will still be a double digit favorite by kickoff of those games if sharps do play that old-school theory with any sort of enthusiasm. Marshall’s line has already dropped from -10.5 on the opener.

What’s interesting is that the Final Four games in the Championship tournament have lines that are almost double digits. If the public comes in on Alabama over Ohio State, and Oregon over Florida State, those favorites could be laying -10 or more at kickoff. The “system” selected two of the most one-sided postseason games for its semifinals!

We continue our bowl previews today with that Utah State/UTEP matchup. Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about shocker possibilities for the big underdog.


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Tex-El Paso: 7-5 (#103 schedule in USA Today)

Utah State: 9-4 (#82 schedule in USA Today)

Utah State had the better record, while playing the tougher schedule. So, you can see why the Aggies are the clear favorites. UTEP wouldn’t be anywhere near a bowl caliber team if they played in a major conference of course. They’d probably be just .500 caliber against a schedule that ranked around #80 to #90.



Tex-El Paso: 5.4 on offense, 6.3 on defense

Utah State: 5.8 on offense, 4.8 on defense

Wow, DISASTER for UTEP. There were -0.9 yards-per-play while facing a terrible schedule! No wonder they’re such big underdogs. It’s kind of a scam that a team this bad gets to play in a bowl game. Imagine how much that offense would struggle if it played GOOD defenses! What would explosive offenses do against that poor defense? Utah State should own the point of attack, and could conceivably dominate this game from start to finish.


Turnover Differential

Tex-El Paso: +8

Utah State: +10

Here’s why UTEP earned a winning record. They managed to avoid high impact turnovers on offense. You have to credit the discipline of a team that only lost the ball 11 times in 12 games. But, that UTEP defense was much softer than Utah State’s. The Aggies forced 29 turnovers, compared to just 19 takeaways for the Miners. Mostly a wash because those differentials are so close. UTEP has no chance to compete if they have to open things up against the high pressure Utah State defense.


Market Performance

Tex-El Paso: 9-3

Utah State: 6-7

The market underestimated UTEP all season in terms of scoreboard results. It’s possible, though, that the market actually had them pegged pretty well but the team kept covering because of good turnover fortune. Utah State was respected entering the season, and had trouble consistently playing to those high expectations. Worth remembering here because they have obviously been saddled with high expectations in their bowl.


Current Line: Utah State by 10.5, total of 45.5

The big news here is that the Over/Under dropped from an opener of 50.5. The current forecast doesn’t show any weather issues…so that’s a Wise Guy move based on raw game projections. Clearly, the market thinks UTEP will have big trouble scoring points. Sharps who wanted to bet that angle did so by betting the Under rather than by bucking history and laying the high price.

How should YOU bet the game? JIM HURLEY has been working with his scouts, his sources, his statheads, his computer programmers, and his Wise Guy connections to make sure his clients get the best betting choices over the full 5-game Saturday card. You’ll be able to purchase the final word right here at the website with your credit card later this week. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about combination packages that include early season basketball and all NFL through the Super Bowl.

Football previews will be running EVERY DAY for the forseeable future for bowl games and prime time NFL here in the NOTEBOOK. Here’s what’s ahead over the next several days…

Thursday: NFL TV Preview…Tennessee at Jacksonville on the NFL Network

Friday: Early Look…Utah vs. Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl

Saturday: NFL TV Preview…San Diego at San Francisco on CBS

Sunday: NFL TV Preview…Seattle at Arizona on NBC

Monday: NFL TV Preview…Denver at Cincinnati on ESPN

Tuesday: Boca Raton Bowl Preview…Marshall vs. Northern Illinois

Wednesday: Hawaii Bowl Preview…Fresno State vs. Rice

The drama…and your bankrolls…will keep building right through the NFL stretch run and all the major bowls. Be sure you’re with us every day in the NOTEBOOK for helpful handicapping information…and hook up with JIM HURLEY for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!


Be sure to follow:

Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

Join the discussion


Forgot password

Keep me logged in