Picking a National Champion: Read before (Hypothetically) Betting

This is part of HTTA’s CFP Championship Preview Series

Your boy Le Cap used to be known to place a bet now and then. College football was the game of choice. For a while, there was a multi-level system in place that led to some seasons with a success rate approaching 60%. If you gamble at all and you are not, in fact, Ace Rothstein or even McConaughey from that awful Pacino movie you know…that is astronomical. With that success rate, you’re taking down Vegas faster than that nerd from MIT.


So what happened? Why didn’t I move out west and go full-time? Well, because I’m not an idiot. Back to the aforementioned “Two for the Money”, I’d eventually lose everything, probably without even a chance at hooking up with Rene Russo, and I wouldn’t have been able to invest the considerable capital required to start and operate a multi-national* sports-blogging empire.

*visits from 48 countries and counting^

^not a joke



My takeaway, though, is that I have found the key elements of a matchup to look at. No advanced stats here, this is Picking Games 101, approachable to the novice. But if you analyze these numbers correctly, more often than not, you’re staring at a winner.

First rule, in general, don’t look at per-game yardage and scoring totals…they are trash.

Second rule, look at not only the raw number, but compare one team’s national ranking to the other team’s corresponding matchup…for example, UGA is #6 in the nation in Yards/carry, and Alabama is #1 in Opponents ypc…that’s basically a wash.

Now, these are the elements to look at, and I’ve gone ahead and done it for the CFP National Championship

Nat'l title


As keen observers, which you obviously are otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, you’ll see there are seemingly no edges to be gleaned. Where one team excels, the other matches them. UGA has a prolific rushing attack, and as we covered Friday, capable of BIG PLAYS, but Alabama matches them with the #1 ranked rush defense. Both teams are more than capable passing the ball and defending the pass, converting and defending 3rd down and Red Zone…it’s a VERY even matchup. It’s almost as if these teams are the two best in the nation, or something….

“So, Le Cap, what do you do in these situations?”. Well, my friends, if this were Week 7, you take a hard pass on a matchup like this, and just go bury the over on some Big 12 game. But you can’t…it’s the National Championship game…you need to pick a winner!!!

This is the time where you start looking at things like special teams, big plays and intangibles. I did the big plays the other day, so go read it…it’ll literally take 2 mins. Took me longer to figure out how to put these two links in the story. Go ‘head…I’ll wait.

I’ll save you the trouble on ST…both teams are solid, and there is no glaring advantage.

So it comes down to intangibles.

Georgia has two very experienced and scary-talented backs, a freshman QB who plays beyond his years, a home-ish crowd in Atlanta, and a kicker named Rodriguo Blankenship, who I cannot believe hasn’t been the focal point of the week. Seriously, the name…the glass…the moustache. He looks like David Cross in a poorly conceived disguise.


Alabama has big game experience up and down the roster, and Nick Saban. This is where I give them the victory. To me, Saban is easily worth 3-5 points in a game like this…a game with no discernable edge on the field.


THE PICK: Bama wins, in a close game. 

Now, the line, as I see it right now, stands at Bama -3.5….that damn hook. So if you’re betting the game…DON’T GET CAUGHT BY THE HOOK!!!!

There are a couple of ways to attack it…if you have the opportunity to buy a point, and get Bama at -2.5, I don’t normally advise it- frankly, I don’t usually advise anyone to do anything, but if anyone actually asked me I wouldn’t normally advise- but this might be one case where it’s worth the premium.

My preferred play would be to take Alabama on the moneyline: which I see at anywhere from -185 to -210 (bet to win 100 back). You’re again paying a premium, but you’d hate to have Bama win by 2 and take home nothing. Take the money line, which is betting Bama just win the game.

Remember kids, we’re only talking about “points” here, not talking about betting any actual money, and certainly not by any means other than legally.


Le Cap







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