Vegas Poll 5.0: Sports are Fixed

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When you rely on computers and statistical analysis to help guide sports related decisions, debate is inevitable. Auburn and Missouri fans have found our Vegas poll infuriating all season long and there’s now another fan base that may take umbrage with their team falling out of the top spot for the first time all year after last weekend’s results.  However before we get there…a rant is in store

Like the rest of every red blooded American I watch football. Last night we were treated to an outstanding game played at its highest level between the Patriots & Panthers.  Up until the final play of regulation there was nothing curious about a well-played (and more importantly) well-officiated football game.  It was in the game’s final play that I saw the true nature of some recreational bettors and conspiracy theorists rear their ugly heads.  Talk of treachery rained down on social media like the injustice at Bank of America Stadium was akin to what unfolded in the Octagon Saturday night.  Are athletic events, either college or pro, ever fixed? Of course there are plenty of instances past and present but to insinuate conspiracy is what kept the Patriots from having 1st and Goal at the 1 is ridiculous.  Much like all of you I would have loved a comprehensive explanation of why the flag was picked up without explanation.  Fans have a reason to be irate, especially those who live and die with their teams but bettors crying foul need to realize breaks like that even out over the course of the season.  If you’re not mature enough to handle an outcome in sports betting no matter which side you were on than you really shouldn’t be betting in the first place…and this comes from someone who had UGA on Saturday. On to more important things…

For the Alabama fan foaming at the mouth seeing their team listed behind Florida St in our Vegas poll understand that if the national championship were played this week you would open as 4 pt favorites.  However, a lot of that number is attributed to the coaching edge and experience component of the equation rather than on field talent.  Books wouldn’t dare open the game close to PK for fear they’d be drowned under a deluge of Alabama money.  The computers continue to upgrade FSU’s overall profile on the strength of their gaudy statistical dominance against inferior scheduling.  Computer ratings, even our Vegas poll, serve as a guide to start the oddsmaking process rather than a black and white system for creating opening lines.   What we are learning from the power poll is that the gap between the top team in the land and their closest competitor is definitely narrowing as the season winds down.


  Vegas BCS AP Coaches
1 Florida St Alabama Alabama Alabama
2 Alabama Florida St Florida St Florida St
3 Oregon Ohio St Baylor Ohio St
4 Baylor Baylor Ohio St Baylor
5 Stanford Oregon Oregon Oregon
6 Ohio St Auburn Auburn Clemson
7 LSU Clemson Clemson Auburn
8 Wisconsin Missouri Missouri Missouri
9 Georgia Stanford Texas A&M Oklahoma St
10 Texas A&M Oklahoma St Stanford Texas A&M
  Notable Absences      
T-11 Clemson      
T-13 Arizona St      
T-15 Oklahoma St      
T-16 Auburn      
T-23 Missouri      


I know what a lot of you are thinking; how the hell is UGA #9 in your poll? Well for everyone that asks that question at the same time they believe Auburn should be ranked in the top 10 they’ve answered their own question. Without one of the more improbable 4th down conversions in league history, UGA would have gone on the road and won in a hostile environment Saturday.  Georgia’s current record makes it hard to validate them as a top 10 football team yet their overall talent and strong computer metrics keep them there.  Arizona St, a recent riser in our poll, actually fell out of the top 10 despite a double digit win against Oregon St illustrating that final scores rarely tell the whole story.  They’ll have a chance to get back into the top 10 with a win this weekend at UCLA which would put a stranglehold on the Pac 12 South.

Much of what oddsmakers do before the season is establish power ratings they trust.  One game, or even a handful of them, won’t change our entire perception the same way it does for the casual fan or media. Understanding the process explains why Auburn and Missouri, despite extremely successful seasons thus far, still don’t find themselves anywhere close to cracking the Vegas top 10.  Auburn continues to defy expectations to the delight of bettors considering they’re racking up covers at a blistering rate (9-2 ATS in 2013).  Last weekend not withstanding, there’s been nothing fluky about the Tigers on field performances behind a light’s out rushing attack.  Auburn is now tied for 16th and their current post explains why the look ahead line released by the LVH on Monday has Alabama listed as 15.5 point favorites for the Iron Bowl. 

As far as those Tigers hailing from the SEC East…Missouri checks in at 23 this week. Oddly enough this is 3 spots behind Ole Miss yet Mizzou’s listed as a FG favorite for Saturday’s game in Oxford. The casual gambler immediately asks how is this even possible? My response: the line accounts for Gary Pinkel’s change in QB (Mauk to Franklin as a definite upgrade) while the other factor is that books understanding the public love for Mizzou (Tigers attracting 80% of the betting tickets early).   Always remember there’s a reason we don’t decide outcomes on paper meaning Missouri can complain to everyone about how disrespected they feel in our poll but by winning their final 2 regular season games they can silence every critic, myself included, once and for all.

Strike A Pose…

Here are your current odds to win the Heisman from the offshore world (Please note there are no Vegas books taking bets on who will win the award)

Jameis Winston :  -230

Johnny Manziel:   +250

AJ McCarron:         +700

Marcus Mariotta: +1500

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.