Zimmerman: Stanford football’s success should foster more respect in Vegas

Oct. 14, 2011, 1:46 a.m.

It’s hard out here for a writer majoring in psychology. I’m what the good folks in touch with the job market refer to as “unemployable.” Thanks, guys!

I went to the career fair last week in White Plaza. It was a mistake. Thrusting myself, a guy with no coding skills, into a pool of Silicon Valley recruiters reminded me of the time my friends and I tried to get from the airport in Managua, Nicaragua, to a coastal surf spot where we would spend the next two weeks. Our driver didn’t show up at the airport. We didn’t speak Spanish. We didn’t get to the beach. Instead, we were stopped in our unmarked taxi by a police officer armed with an AK-47 and looked to be heading for a world of hurt until our English-speaking driver, who had slept through his alarm, miraculously intercepted us. It was horrifying.

At the career fair, I had a similar experience. The fuzzy employers didn’t show up. I didn’t get a job. I don’t speak computer languages. I didn’t get rescued. And although there were no guns, it was equally horrifying.

So this past weekend, I found myself in a quarter-life crisis. Doing as I normally do in times of duress, I wasted time by checking out the lines of this weekend’s games, because what is a better picker-upper than a “STANFORD – 20-something” flashing across your screen? The Cardinal was 1-11 in 2007. For passionate fans, a -20-something line is like kissing Brooklyn Decker under a double-rainbow. (Hi, Andy.)

As it currently stands, Stanford is favored by 20.5 points on the road against Washington State. If you ask this guy, that spread is a bit insulting. The Card tops the conference in every major defensive statistic and boasts one of the nation’s top scoring offenses. Is Wazzu better than it was in recent seasons? Absolutely. Is Stanford fewer than three touchdowns better than Wazzu? Child, please.

That’s when I remembered that this is America, and in America we gamble! Why not exploit the disrespect for this fine institution and turn it into some cash that will eventually be funneled toward my inevitable trip to law school. At this point you’re asking, “But Zach, you know that sports betting requires an advanced knowledge of numbers and probability, right?”

Relax, I took Stats 60. How are these for some numbers?

Stanford is one of only two teams with a perfect record (5-0) against the spread (ATS) this season. The other, Rutgers, is in uncharted territory, having finished last season with a 2-9 record ATS. Meanwhile, Stanford’s success continues to be regarded as a fluke in the betting world, its currently undefeated season following a 7-4-1 mark ATS in 2010.

How many teams have a better record ATS than Stanford since the start of the 2010 season? That would be a whopping total of two: Oklahoma State and Hawaii. I can’t finish this column without first giving credit to those two teams for being impossible to read. Both possess dynamic offenses that have been nearly impossible to stop for the majority of my lifetime. Yeah, the defenses will occasionally give up 30- and 40-point performances to opposing squads. But who cares when you can routinely light up the scoreboard with half-century marks

That said, this is my future I’m wagering. I can’t afford to see my children’s college funds go up in flames because Hawaii let Fresno State score 60 points on a Thursday night game. Oklahoma State could have easily put up 100 points at some point this season, but the Cowboys pulled starting quarterback Brandon Weeden in the second quarter of last week’s game against Kansas. After the first quarter, Oklahoma State was on pace to score 140 points. If I’m gambling my rent, the starters have to play into the second half.

A team has to be more reliable on both sides of the ball if not only for the sake of predictability. With that guideline, find me a better team to bet on than one that is top 10 in total offense and total defense, has arguably (there’s not really an argument) the best player in college football, has the nation’s longest winning streak and most importantly is perpetually underrated by coaches, fans and gamblers alike. You really can’t.

Take your Boise States, Alabamas and USCs. My money is on Stanford.

I think I found my calling.

The line on the number of Zach Zimmerman columns you’ll read this quarter is three (and a half). Let him know if you’re taking the bet at zachz “at” stanford.edu, or follow him on Twitter @zach_zimmerman.

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