Nowhere in the world does the saying "put your money where your mouth is" apply quite like it does in Las Vegas. The Golden Nugget has released the 2014 college football games of the year even though the college football season is still 2 1/2 months away from beginning. Vegas certainly thinks highly of the BYU Cougars this year and has them favored in a number of games, the lone expected loss coming against Texas.
This information in no way is an encouragement by me to go lay a bunch of money on BYU, but rather to give fans a dash of confidence heading into the season. The people who have money to gain and lose from such betting generally are picking BYU to win. The numbers can tell us a little more though about the level of confidence in each outcome.
A general rule is that the home team usually has a three point advantage, meaning all else equal, the home team will usually win at home for no other reason than they are playing at home. If you see a -3 line for the home team then the odds makers believe that the teams are pretty even.
The first game of the season against UCONN has BYU at -16 1/2, which is a huge advantage. You hardly ever see numbers this high in the NFL because the teams are all pretty competitive (except for the Jacksonville Jaguars who at least have this to look forward to). For this first game, you would need BYU to win by more than 16 1/2 points to win the bet. Because this is so high, Vegas believes that BYU is going to win big. It's kind of a risky bet, but it shows a lot of confidence in a win for BYU.
This game is a huge opportunity to make a statement for BYU football. Bronco Mendenhall has a lot to prove because of the scheduling snub by the ACC and SEC, and the need to win big to get noticed in the polls. By all accounts BYU should have won the opener on the road against Virginia last year and this game will hopefully start the season off right with a big win.
The next game on the list has Texas as -6 favorite against BYU. The Cougars must travel to Texas this year and with a new coach and an embarrassing loss last year in LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Longhorns will come out with something to prove. This line is a little surprising in how low it is and suggests that BYU has a decent chance to get a win in their second game of the season.
Virginia comes to town on Sept. 11th and BYU should cruise to a big victory. It was already mentioned how BYU should have won the game last year. Just like the Spurs should have won last year and are proving it with a dominating performance in this year's finals, the Cougars will come out with a chip on their shoulder to show that they are not only the better team this year, but should have won last year as well. The Golden Nugget agrees and has BYU with a -17 point advantage.
We have to jump ahead a few weeks before BYU shows up again. The line against Boise State is -3 for the Cougars and will be played at Boise State. Because of that automatic 3 point advantage that home teams generally get, the -3 line for BYU means that they are really -6 on a neutral field. Unfortunately, Boise has been extremely good on their home field and it will take a complete game from BYU to get the win. The Boise State vs BYU games have been a lot of fun over the last few years and this one will be no different. The Broncos have a new head coach and will be looking for a big win as the season begins to wind down.
The last game that the Golden Nugget picks is also the last game of the season for BYU against Cal. BYU has to travel to Berkeley to play the Bears, but is still picked to win with a -11 point spread. Depending on how the rest of the season plays out, BYU may need a big win to finish the season. If they've lost 2 or 3 games then they will be heading to Miami in the Miami Beach Bowl. If they are undefeated or have one loss, they may be in the discussion for a bigger game.
If Vegas is correct, BYU is headed for some big wins this season. May the odds be in their favor.