The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

June 22, 2014

FURFARI COLUMN: Las Vegas oddsmakers not kind to WVU in early listings

MORGANTOWN — Not long ago, I guessed that the West Virginia University football team will go 6-6 during the 2014 football season.

That was based strictly on a hunch. It would show at least some improvement over last year’s pitiful 4-8 finish.

Anyone who truly believes that’s acceptable for a Mountaineer program dotted with historic achievement over a 122-year run couldn’t possibly be much of a true WVU football fan.

But the feeling among the players, fourth-year head coach Dana Holgorsen and his highest-paid-ever staff reportedly believe this year will show considerable improvement.

I certainly hope, along with Mountaineer Nation followers, that they’re correct. We all hope it’s going to be a winning campaign.

However, it was sad to read this past week that oddsmakers’ early postings in Las Vegas were decidedly stacked against West Virginia, just two months or so from season’s start.

You may find the first-game oddsmaking set very interesting.

Las Vegas’ Golden Nugget Casino recently released its “Games of the Year” annual first-look of college football betting lines and those well-known producers certainly didn’t show much faith in Holgorsen’s team.

Those oddmakers not only expect WVU to lose more than half of its 12 games but to succumb by large margins.

So the challenges appear to be greater for the Mountaineers than in recent years. Hopefully, what follows in this piece will motivate the players to reach even higher levels rather than begin feeling bad for themselves.

In listing odds for eight of West Virginia’s 12 football games, that casino rated the Mountaineers as underdogs in all but one game at this time.

As if that’s not bad enough, the oddsmakers’ opening lines indicate WVU will lose most games by large margins.

For starters, perennial power Alabama is an overwhelming 27½-point favorite against WVU in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Aug. 30 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Golden Nugget also picked Oklahoma to defeat the Gold and Blue by 17 points in Morgantown on Sept. 20.

Oklahoma State looms as possibly just as tough (19 points) over the Mountaineers’ visit there on Oct. 25.

Baylor, which comes to Morgantown on Nov. 18, is listed as a 16-point favorite.

Texas is favored by 13 points against WVU on Nov. 8 at Austin, Texas Tech by 10 points on the road Oct. 11 and Kansas State rules as a 7½-point choice on Nov. 20 in Morgantown.

The Mountaineers’ regular-season finale on Nov. 29 at Iowa State is called by the Golden Nugget a toss-up. Take your pick.

Are such predictions really conducive to selling game tickets?

The Golden Nugget did not offer odds on the other four West Virginia games on this early list. Those games are against Towson State on Sept. 6 at home, at Maryland on Sept. 13, Kansas on Oct. 4 in Morgantown and TCU on Nov. 1 in Morgantown.

Hopefully all four of these contests will be considered winnable. But none seems as attractive to fans as the other eight might well be.

Keep in mind that Mountaineer fans generally aren’t happy that WVU football has been permitted to reach such a low state. The Mountaineers were 4-8 last year and have won only 6 of the last 20 games.

Is that truly big-time college football?

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Mickey Furfari
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    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.
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    July 26, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Five major sports topics of interest to area fans

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    July 25, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Ex-Mountaineer track star dies; WVU athlete arrests may be concern

    I’ve learned belatedly that James Gordon “Jim” Dial, an outstanding men’s track and field sprinter at West Virginia University during the late 1940s, has died.
    He was a native of Huntington who earned All-State first team status. The Huntington High star led all scorers in the state Track Championship meets in both 1946 and ’47.

    July 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Jedd Gyorko running and taking batting practice now

    A report on the internet at this week’s start indicated that Morgantown’s Jedd Gyorko might be ready finally to rejoin the San Diego Padre’s starting lineup.
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    July 16, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: WVU hopes to boost season-ticket sales

    West Virginia University’s season-ticket sales for football are the lowest in nine years just two months before this season’s first home game.
    That will be on Saturday, Sept. 6, against Towson State. The Big 12 portion of the schedule follows.

    July 10, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: San Diego Padres’ Gyorko remains on disabled list

    Stringing together some odds and ends that may interest you:
    • Jedd Gyorko still is not active with the San Diego Padres. The former West Virginia University standout has been on the baseball’s disabled list for just over a month and hopes to return soon.

    July 9, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: It had to feel like ‘Ol’ Home Week’ for the Tricketts

    It might have felt like a bit of “Ol’ Home Week’ to West Virginia University starting quarterback Clint Trickett.
    His parents, Rick and Tara Trickett, were in the Morgantown area and stopped by to spend some time with Clint. They still live in Tallahassee, Florida.

    July 3, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: WVU football season-ticket sales approximately 26,000

    Stringing together some odds and ends about sports that may be of interest to you:
    • West Virginia University season-ticket sales for the 2014 football campaign have reached approximately 26,000. That’s some 2,000 since the count of 24,000 when the renewal deadline was reached.

    June 27, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: USA Today has WVU 78th in football countdown from No. 128 to No. 1

    Like Las Vegas oddsmakers, USA Today’s sports writer Paul Myerberg doesn’t rank West Virginia highly in that newspaper’s early college football predictions in a copyrighted piece.
    In one of its thorough pieces, USA Today analyzed West Virginia in its No. 78 ranking among 128 college teams. That’s what is called a countdown from No. 128 to No. 1.

    June 24, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Las Vegas oddsmakers not kind to WVU in early listings

    Not long ago, I guessed that the West Virginia University football team will go 6-6 during the 2014 football season.
    That was based strictly on a hunch. It would show at least some improvement over last year’s pitiful 4-8 finish.

    June 22, 2014

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