“When are you gonna come down
when are you going to land
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man”
I sat by his deathbed one Saturday afternoon. He remained steadfastly fearless and unafraid to look death in the eye. Determined, more than ever, to win yet one more fight. Yet he looked so tired, so beaten-up and gnarled from all the recent battles that I didn’t think he was going to make it another day. And this day I was right.
It probably had more to do with what I once remember than what I see today. It is his hard to accept him this way, given his disdain for losing. Nonetheless, there comes a day in every man’s life when it’s time – time to say goodbye to the ones we’ve come to love and admire.
Before I get too syrupy here, let me remind you that this is a football publication and I’m talking about football teams, not friends or relatives. More specifically, undefeated football teams, if you will.
When the discussion turns to college football teams that are charting an unbeaten course, there are generally two roads to choose – the before and the after. Namely, how teams perform in games when they are undefeated, and how they respond once they’ve finally tasted defeat. And since we’re mainly about predicting games in advance, our focus for this piece is on making the call, or calling the turn.
Interestingly, since 1980, college football teams that have yet to taste defeat after Game Four of the regular season are a money-burning 852-874-36 ATS (49.3%). When favored on the road against winning teams, they dip even further to 127-158-3 ATS, or 44.5%. Better yet, take them on the road in this role off a convincing double-digit ATS win (10 or more points) and they plummet to 35-61-2 ATS. That’s a rather disgusting 36.4% ATS level, or a real kick in the rear end to most bankrolls.
All of which sets the patient up for this final examination –
PLAY AGAINST any undefeated college football road favorite off a DD ATS win from Game Five out during the regular season versus a winning opponent off a win.
As you might expect, our dear old friend is about to expire, as teams in this role are just 17-48-2 ATS, covering the spread just 26% of the time. Bring the foe in off a SU and ATS win and they time out at 8-32-2 ATS! And if the foe owns a win percentage of .750 or greater, these fat road cats fall to 3-25-2 ATS, winning only 11 of the 30 of the games straight up! This week finds Stanford taking to the road, ready to get their you-know-what kicked at USC.
Last week, Wisconsin dressed up in this identical role when they invaded Michigan State and the Badgers subsequently saw the wind come put of their unbeaten balloon.
It’s like Elton John said in his classic ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ – “You know you can’t hold me forever, I didn’t sign up with you…”
Yes, it’s hard to cling to the body when what you’ve always loved most was the soul. That’s when you know it’s time to let him go…