So far, WSU is best bet in Apple Cup
So what to make of the Apple Cup now that Washington has won a Pac-10 game for the first time in almost two years and handed to the Cougars...
Seattle Times staff reporter
So what to make of the Apple Cup now that Washington has won a Pac-10 game for the first time in almost two years and handed to the Cougars the dubious distinction of holding the longest losing streak in the conference?
For most of us, it's just fun speculation about a game that otherwise doesn't invite a whole lot of intrigue.
But for Scott Ramsey, one of the college football analysts for the Las Vegas Sports Consultants, it's his job to figure out what it all means.
The LVSC sets the line for roughly 90 percent of the sports books in Las Vegas, Ramsey said. And Sunday, Ramsey was handed the task of determining a spread for the Apple Cup.
After looking over the box scores, consulting his own power ratings, and using a little intuition, Ramsey finally came up with this number — Washington State by 2 ½.
Really? A team that has lost seven straight games favored to beat its bitterest rival on the road — a rival coming off its best game in roughly 24 months?
You bet, said Ramsey.
Ramsey said he put only so much stock in UW's 38-14 win at Arizona on Saturday.
"I feel that win was a little bit deceiving because Arizona was coming off the big win against UCLA and they were just really flat," Ramsey said. "They felt they could just walk through it and win, and they got caught."
As for the Cougars, Ramsey said, "I feel Washington State is a little stronger team than UW even though they've lost seven in a row. They've been very competitive in their losses."
In fact, Ramsey said WSU likely would have been a 4 ½- or five-point favorite had UW not won Saturday.
"That kept the line a little shorter than it would have been," Ramsey said.
One important thing to remember about the line, however — it isn't really meant to be a prediction of what is going to happen.
Instead, the sports books that pay the likes of Ramsey to set lines for them want a spread that will invite equal wagering on each team.
"You're trying to come up with a number that is going to generate action on both sides," Ramsey said.
The reason is that casinos make the most money if the wagering is evenly split because of what is called the vigorish — the $1 on every $10 bet that the casinos get for handling the action.
If a bad line is set and too much money comes one way or the other, the casinos are in danger of losing should the wrong team win. That's why the lines move during the week once money starts pouring in more on one team or the other, such as the UW-Arizona game. Arizona was initially an 11 ½-point favorite, but when more people put money on UA than UW, the line grew larger — it reached 13 — to entice more people to bet on the Huskies.
Those who did won big.
The Apple Cup doesn't figure to be a game fraught with much worry for Vegas. Ramsey said it won't likely elicit a lot of action since neither team is ranked and the game will receive little attention outside Washington.
And hard to believe, but this is now the fifth straight year that the Cougars have been favored to win the Apple Cup. In none of those games did the Cougars cover the spread, losing outright in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and winning just 28-25 last year after being installed as 12-point favorites.
The only sure thing Saturday is that for the first time this year, one of the teams is guaranteed to win.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.