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The College Football Report

By Mike Luce

Point spreads in sports often appear as -7.5 or -10.5. In these games, Vegas sportsbooks offer an option to shift the point spread a half point. On top of the ten percent "juice" (making a typical bet cost $110 to win $100), you can pay an additional 10 percent to move the spread a half point in either direction. When wagering on football, this can be a worthwhile investment under the right circumstances. (Compared to buying "insurance" at the blackjack table, which is for chumps.) In fact, moving a 3-point line (-3.5 to -3, for example) can make such a difference that it costs an extra 10 - for a total of 30 - percent.

I am a HUGE fan of this move for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that there is a catchy phrase for it: "buying the hook." This weekend features several interesting games and a number of excellent opportunities to shift the spread in our favor. For entertainment purposes only, of course.

Game: #14 Georgia Tech @ #20 Miami (-5.5, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.)

Comment: I like Miami. Beating FSU required the 'Canes to face a hostile environment, withstand a late rally, and bounce back from a second-half deficit. Lesser teams would have mailed it in. Further, Ga Tech needed a few trick plays to win and still nearly threw away the game against Clemson last week. And yet, that extra half point (down to -5) will make me feel a bit better about this pick.


Game: #10 Boise State (-7.5) @ Fresno St. (Friday, 8 p.m.)

Comment: Wisconsin struggled to put Fresno State away last week in two overtimes. I think the Badgers will manage to assemble a season good enough to justify a New Year's Day bowl game. But I don't think UW should factor into the BCS. By contrast, Boise convincingly beat Oregon in Week One followed by a laugher against Miami Ohio. And I will take -7 rather than -7.5 any day.


Game: East Carolina @ #24 North Carolina (-7.5, Saturday, 11 a.m.)

Comment: I don't love this game. But let's roll with it. Buying the hook is that much fun. The best part? When you move the spread down a half point in a game like this, and UNC wins by a touchdown. Sometimes, a push can feel like a win. Yep, that's right. I'm not so much hoping to win as trying not to lose money.


Game: Texas Tech @ #2 Texas (-17.5, Saturday 7 p.m.)

Comment: Here is the second half of the equation on Saturday. You can play ECU-UNC and, regardless of the outcome, look ahead to McCoy & Co. barely surviving the game against the Red Raiders. Yes, I will take the points and buy the hook to make Texas Tech +18. Final score? Texas Tech 27, Texas 38.


Bonus - the Beachwood Sports Seal debuts this week with the following picks: Cal -14 @ Minnesota, Nebraska +4.5 @ Va Tech, and Cincy -1 over Oregon State. (I can't explain it either. The Sports Seal loves only two things in this world: fish heads and road teams.)


Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report twice a week; first as a look back at the festivities, and second in a look ahead at the festivities. He welcomes your comments.

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