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Where Have All The Pk'ems Gone?

   by Ben Burns - 11/09/2009

Bad Beats: Where have all the ‘Pick ‘em’s’ gone?
by Ben Burns

The old oddmakers’ joke goes like this: ‘You can’t make a game a Pick because the squares won’t know who to bet.’

It’s referring to the public’s love of favorites. But oddmakers aren’t kidding around about Pick ‘em games anymore. There aren’t any.

Lines may pass over the even mark, but it’s rarely a lengthy stay. And the line certainly never ends up there. According to our archive of closing lines, no games have gone off with an even point spread through the first 10 weeks of the college football season.

In fact, it’s hard to recall the last time a game went off as a Pick. Do you remember the last time you played a game with an even point spread?

Last week, the Houston-Tulsa game hovered around a Pick all week, but only briefly was posted at even. The Cougars opened at as much as 3-point favorites. But this number was all over the place from the get-go. By the middle of the week, Tulsa was the favorite at most books. By kickoff, Houston was again around a 1.5-point favorite.

The game itself was as wild as the line movements.

In a high-scoring, back-and-forth shootout, Tulsa grabbed a 45-37 lead on a Charles Clay one-yard touchdown run with 3:28 to play.

Houston made it 45-43 on Case Keenum’s third touchdown pass of the day with only 21 seconds remaining. The two-point conversion failed.

The ensuing onside kick did not. Houston recovered on its own 34, but had little time to make something happen. Actually, they had plenty.

Keenum completed quick-strike passes for 13 and 14 yards and in seconds had the Cougars at the Tulsa 34.

Houston kicker Matt Hogan, whose previous career-long kick was 34 yards, drilled a 51-yard, winning kick. Final score: Houston 46, Tulsa 45.

This game in particular shows just how important it is to shop around for the best number and how betting a game on the wrong side of big line movement is never a good idea, especially in games with small spreads.

If you bet the Golden Hurricane after the steam made it the favorite, you’re cursing yourself right now. If you bet Houston after the money came back in on the Cougars late in the week, you might have found yourself giving 1.5 points in a one-point game.

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