Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Boca Raton Bowl Is Tonight

It's finally here. The biggest non-Playoff bowl game is tonight, live from everyone's grandmother's backyard.

And so, because the name of the bowl is telling us to, let's wet the beak a little bit.

This is the first place I always go on Bovada. It's how I essentially inform all of my decisions about the game. And My Friend Vegas is telling me that Western Kentucky is going to win. They're paying out lower across every segment - close games, blowouts, it's all more likely that WKU is going to come out on top. That's not me telling you any X's and O's or how I think any matchups are going to play out. That's genius oddsmakers and computers saying that, so it might be true. Do yourself a favor and start your ticket with Western Kentucky -6.5 (-110).

The over/under is currently at an even 80 points. If we all bet the over, it's going to end 35-32. If we all bet the under, it's going to end 78-77 after four overtimes. Let's just stay away from that and let our friends lose money on the over (or the under, if you have lame friends).

One score prop I do like from that table above is pairing Memphis by 1-6 points +500 and Western Kentucky by 1-6 points +375. They both pay out a decent amount, and it gives us a pretty wide range of close games that would cash. If you roll in that WKU bet, then Memphis winning by less than a touchdown or WKU winning at all would all result in the beak getting wet.

And, finally, our last section, player props. But it's going to be a long fucking section because we have to look at the offenses (and their competition) and defenses (and their competition). I don't really know how I'm going to do this, so bear with me and let's take a ride.

Memphis Pass Offense

  • Quarterback Riley Ferguson is a junior, and this is the first season he's really played
  • Wide Receiver Anthony Miller is also a junior, but he played last season
  • In the eleven full games that Ferguson played this year, he averaged 300.5 yards per game
  • Naturally, Bovada set Ferguson's line for tonight at exactly 300.5 yards
  • Ferguson's two worst games, in terms of yardage, were a 43-7 victory over Kansas (189 passing yards) and a 34-27 victory over Temple (174). Memphis jumped out to a huge lead against KU and ran the ball almost twice as much as they threw it. I would expect to not have to worry about a situation like this tonight. The Temple game was different, because Memphis didn't hold a lead until the second half. I don't really have a concrete answer for why Ferguson threw for so few yards, but the seven punts and three field goal attempts for Memphis lead me to believe that Temple's defense was able to come up with some big third down stops. 
  • Ferguson's four best games, in terms of yardage, were a 77-3 victory over Bowling Green (359 passing yards), a close 48-44 victory over Houston (409), and two games where Memphis got killed - 48-28 by Ole Miss (343) and 59-30 to Tulsa (349). The big win is pretty straightforward, because Bowling Green just couldn't stop anything. The two losses make sense too, because Memphis was playing catch-up and had to rely more heavily on the passing game. 
The Houston game is the one I want to focus on, because it's basically the anti-Temple game for Ferguson. Both games were close (within one score), and I think those games should be the closest to tonight's game. Why did Ferguson finish with more than twice as many pass yards last week against Houston than he did in October against Temple?

I keep coming back to the 7 punts and 3 field goal attempts that Memphis had against Temple. Against Houston, they punted four times and kicked two field goals. Now I get that four possessions isn't a humongous deal, but it details how Temple's defense was more able to impact the game than Houston's defense. For what it's worth, Temple finished first in the AAC East, and Houston finished fourth in the AAC West.

And now, just in case I'm not already at that point, I'm going to fall off a cliff and compare the total team defenses of Temple, Houston, and Western Kentucky:

  • Temple's defense is 3rd in the nation in yards per game at 275.9 
  • Houston is 13th in the nation but they are more than 40 yards per game worse than Temple (that difference is the same between #13 Houston and #32 Ohio)
  • Western Kentucky is 38th in the nation at 367.8 yards per game
And now let's refine that and just look at passing defense, since that's the whole premise of this prop we're evaluating:
  • Temple is 2nd in the nation at 145.2 pass yards against per game
  • Houston is 54th in the nation at 219.5
  • Western Kentucky is 110th in the nation (out of 128) at 268.7
That settles that, let's throw Riley Ferguson Over 300.5 Yards on the ticket. Maybe go ahead and empty the Bovada account on that one and then buy your girlfriend some extra nice Christmas presents. 

And last but certainly not least (I know I already said finally, we're going bonus section here), the most exciting football bet. The total yardage of the longest touchdown (from either side) is set at 67.5 yards. 

Now, keep in mind that Bovada's team point lines are at 44 and 37.5, so we're anticipating like 8-10 touchdowns. WKU has running backs who've scored 85 and 59 yard touchdowns this year, and receivers who have scored from 87, 80, 61, and 54 yards out (they also have a guy who caught a 74-yard non-touchdown). As a team, they scored 80 total touchdowns this season. 

Memphis has running backs who've scored from 71 and 45 yards, plus another with a 51-yard non-touchdown. Their receivers have scored from 84 and 67 yards. As a team, they totaled 101 offensive touchdowns. 

That's a bunch of meaningless stats because you know we're betting the Longest Touchdown Over 67.5 Yards

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