The Vegas Lines Matrix still has Auburn as an Iron Bowl underdog

For those of us constantly obsessing over how well Auburn would stack up against the rest of the SEC, I’ve created this handy table — the Vegas Lines Matrix. For more information on what the Vegas Lines Matrix is, how it works, and why you should care, check out a prior week’s column.


(Click on the image for TWER’s patented “E.A.G.L.E-Vision” technology! Otherwise known as the magnifying tool.)

Changes this week

Based on how all teams played last week, I (acting on behalf of Vegas bookies) have adjusted the matchup lines you could expect if these teams played this week. A few things to mention first: In ordered to “improve” a team’s odds, one of three things needs to occur:

1) the team needed to improve on their per game statistics in the past week, or …
2) Their opponent’s per game statistics needs to get worse.
3) The team needs to move up in the polls.

In Auburn’s remaining games, we see the following changes:
Auburn @ Alabama: Line moves from Auburn being a 4.5-point underdog to a 5-point underdog.
Auburn vs. South Carolina: Line moves from Auburn being a 10-point favorite to a 9-point favorite.

How the Vegas lines Matrix compares to the actual Vegas lines

Matchup Vegas Lines Matrix prediction Actual Vegas Line (11/16/2010)
Georgia St. @ Alabama OFF -54
Troy @ South Carolina OFF -22.5
Appalachian St. @ Florida OFF OFF
Ole Miss @ LSU -19 -16
Arkansas @ Mississippi State +9.5 +3
Tennessee @ Vanderbilt +7.5 +9

Probabilities Matrix

As with the above matrix above, the values are color coded relative to the home team’s chances of winning. The greener the cell, the more likely the home team is to win.

Last week, The Vegas Lines Model said the Auburn-UGA line should have been -16. The Predict-O-Nomics model went a step further and said Auburn should win by 19. The fact that Auburn won 49-31 reinforces my confidence in The Models, but it worries me for the Iron Bowl. Auburn has been predicted to be an underdog to Alabama all season long. While I suspect the actual Vegas line for the Iron Bowl will be closer to “PICK” than the -5 The Model is predicting, this game should be the toughest Auburn has faced all year. Thankfully, the Tigers have almost two weeks left to prepare for it.

With the Georgia win, Auburn has clinched the SEC West and has scheduled a second date with Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks. I believe Vegas will put an undefeated Auburn team as a 9-point favorite, or a one-loss Auburn as a 4-point favorite. Auburn has a 20 percent chance of going undefeated prior to the national championship game (a 34.3 percent chance versus Alabama and 60 percent chance versus South Carolina).

Predicted Final Standings

With the SEC West and East champions finally decided, I thought I’d revisit the initial projections made during the first week of October, six weeks ago, when Auburn was a 5-0 team, one of 16 such undefeated teams.

Back in October, the writing was already on the wall. The SEC West was projected to have five bowl teams, with a three-way race for the division champion between Alabama, Auburn and LSU. While Alabama had the early lead (and was still not mathematically eliminated until Auburn’s win last week), the Tide would lose to the Gamecocks in Week 6, opening the door up for a red-hot Auburn team to storm through. Arkansas and Mississippi State had early season losses and have been on the outside looking in since Week 4.

In the SEC East, the division champion was expected to come down to South Carolina and Florida, with Florida predicted to get the nod. Six weeks later, the Gators and Gamecocks finally met. The up-then-down-then-up-again Gamecocks cruised to a 36-14 victory as 5-point road underdogs. Georgia and Tennessee, two teams left for dead six weeks into the season, have each clawed their way back to the brink of bowl eligibility. Apart from the fight for No. 1, the rest of the division should finish in the same order it was originally predicted to.

Current Week 12 Projections

Initial Week 6 Projections

Mac Mirabile is a 2002 graduate of Auburn’s economics and journalism departments. During his time at Auburn, he was a copy and photo editor with The Auburn Plainsman. He has a masters degree in economics from UNC-Chapel Hill and has written numerous academic publications on college football, the NFL and gambling markets. His previous column can be found here. He can be reached at [email protected]

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