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Friday at 4: Overs, Unders and Lesser Vices

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Two friends spent the last four days in Las Vegas. They are relatively good friends, but I still did not ask them to handle any wagers for me. Vices should be self-sustaining, unaffected by outside factors. I could probably have trusted one of them to do as instructed rather than spend my funds on an extra piña colada at the poolside, but how much could I really begrudge him if that was exactly what he did?

Then again, perhaps Vegas poolsides are more hype than reality. I have never been. I drove through once. My passenger was so angry about not stopping, he did not talk to me until the Pacific Coast. I was supposed to attend a bachelor party there — in Vegas, not on the Pacific Coast, though that would undoubtedly be a good time — a few years ago. Unfortunately for my life experiences but likely a blessing for my wallet at the time, that groom is not quite adept at planning ahead. I am, in fact, due to see him in two hours. I’ll expect his prompt arrival 20 or 30 minutes after the agreed upon time.

Now would be a great time for a weekend in Vegas, at least from a business perspective. It is the time of year to bask in college football season win total projections.

Only the truly-depraved and the thoroughly-deprived genuinely study those 130 guesses. The depraved, well, that explanation is obvious. The deprived? It is mid-July. College football does not return for another seven weeks. They need that fix in one form or another.

In that respect, I can understand the lesser vice.

Now, discussing that lesser vice is not meant to encourage you to squander your four-year-old’s college fund. Personally, season win total over/unders serve more as a gauge than anything else. They grant a means of assessment, comparing different teams along a spectrum. It is a puzzle. Solving a puzzle four months before its resolution is an accomplishment, even if one only recognized by the aforementioned depraved.

NFL or NBA season win totals are the equivalent of a 500-piece headache when compared to college football’s 2,500-piece, all-one-color mess. Using the most pertinent team in these parts … Logically, about a quarter of Notre Dame’s roster turned over in the offseason. Suddenly an upperclassmen who has yet to contribute may be counted on in a key role. That can go, and has gone, either direction. For every Jonas Gray, there is a Dayne Crist.

That collection of 2,500 sky blue cardboard chunks suddenly seems to be missing a few pieces when it comes to teams like the Irish. No matter the volume of the cynics, a larger portion of the public will always remain optimistic about Notre Dame’s upcoming season. Thus, oddsmakers will skew the projected win total higher, knowing that majority of fans will bet the over no matter how lofty the supposed outlook may be.

With that in mind, it is somewhat surprising to see most over/under marks for the Irish currently at 7.5, perhaps 8. Without breaking down the season game-by-game right now — remember, there are still seven weeks before real football — taking the over on that seems like a pretty quick decision. An 8-4 season would likely include losses to Georgia, USC, Miami and Stanford and wins over Temple, Boston College, Michigan State, Miami of Ohio, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Navy. None of that sounds outlandish in the least.

Not that any self-respecting Notre Dame reporter would ever place a bet on the Irish win total before the season. That would lead to bias, one direction or another. That does sound outlandish.

If I trusted Cooper, what bets would I have asked him to make out in the desert?

Ohio State over 10.5
Rutgers over 3
Arizona over 4.5
Oregon over 7.5 (sometimes seen at 8)
South Carolina under 5
Georgia Tech under 6 (sometimes seen at 6.5, at which point absolutely the under)
Wake Forest under 5.5
Stanford under 9 (sometimes seen at 8.5, which gets much trickier)

Just based on the nature of win total over/unders, and acknowledging oddsmakers’ general acumen compared to this square’s lack thereof, going 3-5 in those thoughts should be expected while 4-4 would actually still net a loss.

We’ll check in four months. Until then, well, it’s 4 p.m. on a Friday and the most-popular sporting event this weekend is the X Games. I should admit here, I fully intend to watch the X Games. To date, covering the 2011 Summer X Games in Los Angeles was the single-most fun event I have ever reported on. The access was outstanding, the competitors were down-to-earth, and the media room served Starburst and Red Bull.

Forget about sports for the evening. Go find another distraction, perhaps a dalliance with the world.