Holiday style gambling

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Next year GamingToday turns 40. I’m proud to have been here going on 16 years and we have built our global reputation with “news you can bet on.”

As bettors we are always looking for any edge in order to cash a ticket. Most bets we make have at least a 50-50 chance at cashing.

As the family was going to Christmas Mass many years ago my mom, who was a daily Mass attendee says to my dad, “Why do you just go to Mass on Christmas and Easter?”

With his usual wisdom he says, “Cause I’m a gambler.”

Later at the dinner table, as he was doing his usual job of carving the turkey, I told him I just didn’t understand. 

He says, “If you don’t believe in God, live your life that way, die and there is a God, well you are in big trouble. But, if you believe in God as I do and try to do my best, when I die God says to me, ‘Well Bennie, you gave it a good shot, welcome.’

“Now, if I die but live believing in God and there is no God, well than at least I had a 50-50 shot. And that is better than not believing and having no shot. Let’s eat and God bless during this Christmas season.”

And to all my Jewish friends out there, have a happy Hanukkah. A very wise Rabbi who bet with me at the Stardust once told me Temple is a good bet on Saturdays.

We move into a dangerous weekend of betting in the NFL and with my tail between my legs we will move right to some bowl games.

Wednesday, Dec. 24

Bahamas Bowl

C. Michigan +3.5 vs. W. Kentucky (68): The Chippewas are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five bowl games. The Hilltoppers took their last three games of the regular season, including a wild win at Marshall, halting the Thundering Herd’s attempt at a perfect season and a lot of cash. They may still be celebrating that win. Bowl favorites who won their last three of the season have gone 0-8 ATS when playing a team coming off a loss in their last game as a favorite. CENTRAL MICHIGAN.

Hawaii Bowl

Fresno St. +2 vs. Rice (60): The Bulldogs know this trip well, having made it every other year. Their last game with Boise was a great effort that will carry over to this one. Rice will be on a high watching the waves and the Hula girls. FRESNO ST.

Friday, Dec. 26

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Illinois +6 vs. La. Tech (59): Huge strength of schedule difference here as we have the C-USA vs. the Big Ten. When Tech played a major conference foe they lost to Oklahoma, 48-16, and Auburn, 45-17. The Fighting Illini finished on a high, winning their last two games on the road vs. Penn State and Northwestern. ILLINOIS.

Quick Lane Bowl

Rutgers +3 vs. UNC (66): The Scarlet Knights went 7-5 ATS, getting a big win in the last game of the season when beating Maryland on the road, 41-38, getting 8 points. They are 2-2 in their last four bowl games. North Carolina went 5-7 ATS and got crushed in their last game of the season by NC State, 35-7, as a 7-point chalk. RUTGERS.

St. Petersburg Bowl

N.C. State +1.5 vs. UCF (48.5): Talking about the Wolfpack, they came alive toward the end of the season, winning 3 of their last 4 games, and were 7-5 ATS in regular season and played a tougher schedule than the UCF. The Knights won and covered their last four games and are 3-1 in their last four bowl appearances. CENTRAL FLORIDA.

Saturday, Dec. 27

Military Bowl

VT +3 vs. Cincy (51): The Bearcats were on a roll, winning their last 7 games going 6-0-1 ATS while the Hokies’ claim to fame this year is somehow beating Ohio State in Columbus. CINCY/UNDER.

Sun Bowl

Duke +7.5 vs. Arizona St. (65): The Blue Devils dropped their last two bowls and lost two of their last three regular season games. The Sun Devils own wins over USC, Stanford, Utah and Notre Dame. Plus, El Paso is really not all that far from Tempe. ARIZONA ST.

Independence Bowl

Miami, Fla. -3.5 vs. S. Carolina (60): The Hurricanes were playing real good football up until they gave the game away vs. Florida State, losing late, 30-26. Then they fell to Virginia and Pittsburgh. The U has played three bowl games in the last five years and lost them all. Steve Spurrier and his not-so-Gamecocks had a tough year, going 4-8 ATS and 6-6 overall. MIAMI.

Pinstripe Bowl

Penn St. +2.5 vs. BC (40): This is a very easy call. It looks like Eagles all the way against the Nittany Lions, which just can’t score many points. Thus the low total. BC owns wins over NC State, Virginia Tech and Southern Cal. Look for the Eagles to fly high. BOSTON COLLEGE.

Holiday Bowl

Nebraska +7 vs. USC (62): The Cornhuskers faltered late, getting crushed by Wisconsin and losing to Minnesota in Lincoln before ekeing out a win at Iowa, 37-34. Playing in San Diego gives the Trojans the advantage. USC.

Monday, Dec. 29

Liberty Bowl

W. Virginia -3.5 vs. Texas A&M (67): The Mountaineers played Alabama dead even until late, beat Baylor, 41-27, and just did lose to TCU, 31-30, and Kansas State, 26-20. The Aggies from College Station went 4-8 ATS during the regular season. WEST VIRGINIA .

Russell Athletic Bowl

Clemson +3.5 vs. Oklahoma (53): Clemson went 5-7 ATS, but did play Florida State close losing 23-17. The Tigers beat UNC, NC State, Louisville, BC and South Carolina – all bowl teams. The Sooners were not much better (5-7) in the ATS column. That last loss to Okie State in Norman was brutal. CLEMSON.

Texas Bowl

Texas +6 vs. Arkansas (45.5): Razorbacks very excited to be in Houston. A win over the Longhorns would go far for recruiting. Arkansas shut out LSU and Ole Miss in back-to-back weeks. They just did fail against Mississippi State, losing 17-10, and to Alabama, 14-13. ARKANSAS.

Last week: 3-2

Season: 61-47-1

NFL

My stocking is full.

Last week: 1-3

Season: 14-17.

Don’t forget to bet on Church as you just may be walking around lucky and not even know it. Have a very Merry Christmas.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper.  Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].

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