Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 9:24 PM
The Colorado Buffaloes have been a bettor’s dream in 2016. The Buffs are a perfect 6-0 against the spread. Even though they were ranked #21 in the polls coming into Saturday’s game at USC, Colorado was still a (+5) underdog. They probably didn’t earn a lot more respect in the 21-17 loss, but they kept getting their Vegas backers the money.
One of the keys to Colorado’s ATS success has been the chance to play big-name opponents at inflated prices. They went to Michigan and were getting (+18). The Wolverines had been a little spotty prior to Saturday’s 78-0 blowout of Rutgers and Colorado was competitive in this game deep into the second half before losing 45-28, but getting the cover.
The Buffs went on to visit Oregon as an (+11.5) underdog. The Ducks have not played up to their potential so far this season and this game was a big example. Colorado won outright 41-38. Pricing Oregon as that hefty a favorite was so 2014.
Finally, we come to Saturday. Colorado’s straight-up record was 4-1 coming into the USC game. As mentioned, the Buffs had gotten notice from the normally ill-informed media pollsters. But the Trojans, whose play has already gotten first-year coach Clay Helton on the hot seat, were still made the five-point favorite. It’s enough to wonder if anyone’s paying attention to what Colorado does on the field or if the ineptitude of recent years is still being held against them.
That ineptitude has been pretty deep. Colorado hasn’t had a winning season since 2005. They haven’t been to a bowl game since 2007. They haven’t won so many as five games since 2008. They bottomed out with a one-win season in 2012, after which current head coach Mike MacIntyre was hired. MacIntyre’s first three years have been a grind, with a combined 10 wins. So perhaps the market can be forgiven for being slow to adjust.
But Colorado is also taking care of business in spots where they’re favored. They hammered Colorado State 44-7 as a (-7) favorite. They rolled over Idaho State 56-7 while giving (-45.5). And they were favored by (-19.5) against Oregon State, a game the Buffs ultimately won 47-6.
What makes this Colorado team intriguing is that they do it with balance. They rank 27th in the country on offense and 33rd on defense, so there’s no inordinate reliance on one particular facet of the game. As evidence of this, the Buffs have gotten their covers going both Over and Under the total. Perhaps the only negative is that there’s no one reliable go-to running back to control tempo. Philip Lindsay’s 395 yards over six games are the team-high.
The market is sending mixed signals moving forward. On the one hand, the Buffs are a (-9) favorite for next Saturday against Arizona State, a team they share the Pac-12 South lead with. That indicates some respect. On the other hand...Colorado is still a 40-1 shot to win that division title, even though ASU and Utah are the only other teams with just one conference loss. That indicates that value can still be found.