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Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Happens In Vegas

You may have noticed that the line on this week's game opened with Georgia as a 16-point underdog.

Given what you've seen from the Bulldogs so far this season, that may not surprise you. But what should strike you is just how rare a number like that is. That's actually the first thing that crossed my mind.

Of course, I didn't have a way to really quantify that until reader Steve B. pointed me in the direction of this Web site that tracks betting lines all the way back to 1985. Needless to say, I killed a few hours playing around with it, and as it turns out, some of it may even be interesting to you.

First off, yes, the spread on this game is pretty rare. In fact, only one other time since Mark Richt took over in 2001 has Georgia been this big of an underdog, and that was against Florida in Richt's debut season. That year, Georgia was a 19.5-point dog and, while losing, did manage to cover the spread.

Of course, this spread is even more rare than that. As it turns out, this is only the sixth time in Richt's nine years that Georgia has been a double-digit dog. Only twice has it happened since 2001, both times during Matthew Stafford's freshman year in 2006. Put simply, this type of line just doesn't happen at Georgia.

And if you're considering laying a wager on this game, here's another interesting fact: In the previous five games in which Georgia was getting at least 10 points, the Dawgs have covered every single time, winning outright three times. Here's the list:

2006, at Auburn: Georgia (+11.5) wins 37-15
2006, vs. Florida: Georgia (+13.5) loses 21-14
2001, vs. Arkansas: Georgia (+11.5) wins 34-23
2001, at Tennessee: Georgia (+11.5) wins 26-24
2001, vs. Florida: Georgia (+19.5) loses 24-10

(NOTE: I went by the data on the Covers Web site, which has Arky as an 11.5-point favorite on '01. Good chance that's a typo though.)

Now, Georgia's players have made a point of saying that past is nothing more than prologue to this game, but the truth is, the precedent says Georgia should perform a lot better than the betting public seems to expect.

But hey, when you have a site as entertaining as this, why stop there?

A few more intriguing betting-related facts:

-- In the past two seasons, Georgia is a woeful 6-13-1 against the spread, despite posting an overall record of 14-6. That's probably a good bit of ammunition for those folks saying that things are on the decline at Georgia, even if the record doesn't show it. Clearly UGA isn't performing up to its reputation.

-- Of course, the other side of that coin is that the Bulldogs rarely do perform up to the expectations of the betting public. Since Richt took over, Georgia has had just three winning seasons against the spread -- 8-4 in 2007, 8-6 in 2003 and 10-3 in 2002.

-- And the other side of that coin (which I believe makes it the third side of the original coin) is that the betting public really likes the Dawgs. In the nine years Mark Richt has been in Athens, Georgia has been an underdog just 23 times in 108 games in which a spread was set. In other words, the public favors Georgia 80 percent of the time.

-- Of those 23 times in which UGA was an underdog, six came in Richt's first season and six have come against Florida. The only other teams to ever be favored over Georgia are LSU (three times), Tennessee (three times), Auburn (twice), Arkansas (twice), Mississippi (once), Georgia Tech (once), South Carolina (once) and Alabama (once).

-- Just another great point of reference as to how far Richt has taken this Georgia program for those of you who forget from whence you came: This week's game is the sixth time in nine years Georgia has been a double-digit dog. In the seven years before that, Georgia was a double-digit dog 12 times.

And how about the results in those games?

As we mentioned, Richt is 3-2 outright in his five previous instances as a double-digit dog. In the 16 games from 1990-2000 that Georgia was a double-digit dog, its record was 2-13-1.

And Richt is a perfect 5-0 covering the spread, meaning that the Dawgs are always competitive in those games. From 1990-2000, however, Georgia was just 7-9 against the spread when a double-digit dog.

The bottom line? You may not be thrilled that Richt's Bulldogs have gotten to the point where Florida is a 16-point favorite, but history says there's no one you'd rather have at the helm now that we're here.

1 comment:

DBH said...

Hi David,

I think there was a mistake on the website you cited regarding the line on the 2001 UGA-Arkansas game. Arkansas entered that game 1-2, with only a narrow win over UNLV to their credit and having just been blown out by Alabama. It's not plausible that they would be a 11.5-point favorite against UGA in Athens.

In fact, another web site (the Sunshine Football Forecast) lists Georgia as a 10-point favorite for the 2001 game against Arkansas.

Thanks for all your great work!