Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the Gamble-Tron, 2015 Edition. We're here for what hopefully will be a bounce-back season after we lost nearly half of our savings over the course of last season. There were a lot of ups, but a lot more downs. This is thanks in particular to the UCLA Bruins, who we just could not peg, all the way up until the very end when they got hammered by Stanford.
Keep in mind this all took place before the bowl season began. To make matters worse, we even decided to dip our toe into the Pac-12's postseason games. The result was a middling 4-4 record. The rub, however, is the fact that our three year-old son, given only the mascots of the teams playing eachother, went 6-2. That's not embarrassing or anything.
This year we've decided to church the proceedings up a bit and act like an adult. What does that mean? Well, we're applying the vig to the bet. For those who aren't familiar, the vig is explained here. With that in mind, we will place the amount required for the vig on each game, and not just throw cash at matchups willy-nilly. We will also have a little fun with a money line or two of the week, in which we throw a little coin at an underdog to win outright.
Like last year, we'd love it if you all played along at home and made your wagers, pretend or otherwise, known in the Comments section. We will keep a running season total for ourselves, and publish the weekly results of anyone who wishes to put a little pretend money down themselves.
As a reminder, the title of this column is in reverence to the great Professor Frink of Simpsons fame, who invented the Gamble-Tron 2000 many moons ago. With that, let's get to the fun.
Michigan at Utah (Michigan +5.5/-110, Utah -5.5/-110): The Pac-12 is really starting with a bang this season, as the Utes welcome Michigan and its irascible new coach to town. Utah has a nasty defensive line and arguably the conference's best back in Devontae Booker. Michigan will likely start Iowa transfer Jake Rudock at quarterback. Harbaugh needs to work overtime to coach the Iowa out of him. Utah has the edge, but Harbaugh keeps it close.
The Pick: $110 on Michigan
Texas San Antonio at Arizona (UTSA +31.5/-110, Arizona -31.5/-110): UTSA gave Arizona all it could handle last season in San Antone. This isn't last year. UTSA lost 36 (!!!) seniors, and returns just five starters. While I think Arizona takes a slight step back, they'll cruise here. And yes, I am terrified of the backdoor cover.
The Pick: $110 on Arizona
Colorado at Hawaii (Colorado -7.5/-110, Hawaii +7.5/-110): I almost had to do a double-take on this one. Colorado is favored on the road? By more than a touchdown? Man, Hawaii must be really bad. Of course, I thought UW would show up and hammer the Rainbow Warriors last season, and they barely escaped. Hawaii still stinks, and it might be the Dogfish Head Aprihop talking, but Colorado just might lose this game.
The Pick: $110 on Hawaii
Washington at Boise State (UW +11.5/-110, BSU -11.5/-110): Forget ASU vs. Texas A&M. For my money, this is the conference's juiciest game of the weekend. Not necessarily because of the two teams, but because of the back story. Chris Petersen returns to the house he built to take on a bunch of guys he recruited. Meanwhile, the team he currently coaches suffered attrition on an epic scale. So much so that they're going to start a true freshman (almost certainly) quarterback. Washington is going to be better than people think this season, especially on defense. It's not a blowout, but Boise pulls away late.
The Pick: $110 on Boise State
Stanford at Northwestern (Stanford -11.5/-110, Northwestern +11.5/-110): Stanford is going to be pretty good this season despite alot of losses on defense, as well as Ty Montgomery and some pretty good offensive lineman. They'll be so good that they'll win in spite of their noodle-armed quarterback. Northwestern has been steadily regressing since winning their first bowl game in forever a couple season ago. They may be a bit better this season, but Stanford is the superior team.
The Pick: $110 on Stanford
Virginia at UCLA (Virginia +19.5/-110, UCLA -19.5/-110): There are myriad ways that teams prefer to start their game week. Lifting a cell phone from an Uber driver? That isn't one of them. Sources report that Bruins Nation has already blamed this entire incident on Steve Alford. Like UW, UCLA is also starting a freshman QB. Unlike UW, there is a ton of talent returning. My past with UCLA is, to say the least, checkered. After sitting on the fence until it really started to hurt, the Bruins get the edge.
The Pick: $110 on UCLA
Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (ASU +3/-110, A&M -3/-110): The Aggies may have finally found a competent defense to go with their high-powered offense, as they lured John Chavis away from LSU. Apparently the Hurt Feelings Reports are still in 'Pending' status. ASU returns a ton of talent and is a real threat to win the Pac-12's better division. The Shamwow salesman in charge will have them ready to go when they roll into Houston.
The Pick: $110 on ASU
Arkansas State at USC (Ark. St +27.5/-110, USC -27.5/-110):
USC football 2015 is off to an epic start with the #SarkAfterDark campaign. Even Kevin Sumlin is getting in on the action! The man who doesn't have a drinking problem begins his trek to make everyone forget about (bleeping) fighting on when his Trojans face Arkansas State. Here's how this works: Go 10-2 and nobody will talk about it. Go 8-4 and Pat Haden, the guy who has hired some spectacular flameouts during his USC tenure, will put the charter member of the Joey's Fan Club on notice. Cody Kessler is really good against terrible teams, and just ok against good teams. Arkansas State, stunningly, has the same coach it did last season. That's reason to celebrate!
The Pick: $110 on USC
Money Line Game of the Week: BYU was on track to have a special season in 2014, but it all came crashing down when Taysom Hill got injured. He's back for what seems like his 17th season, and leads a very good offense. The defense? Well, Bronco Mendenhall decided to re-assume head duties on that side, so that should tell you all you need to know about how they performed last season. Nebraska? Well good gosh golly, they'll miss Ameer Abdullah.
The Pick: $100 on BYU +235
So there you have it. We didn't pick Cincinnati to win by 200 points, but the results could very easily mirror those of the original Gamble-Tron. Show us your picks!