When betting college football, a quick strike often leads to a score

Bet on it: For gamblers Stone and Schrope, the best time to get in on the action is right when the lines are released.

SHARE When betting college football, a quick strike often leads to a score
Alabama Crimson Tide

Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Georgia Bulldogs at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — A year ago, San Diego bettor Jim Schrope and Paul Stone, a handicapper from Tyler, Texas, met in Vegas to bet the South Point’s college football games of the year.

They’ve been pals for about 10 years, both produce power ratings — albeit in different ways — and both sought to exploit their projected spreads and totals against the sportsbook’s fresh figures. Both prospered.

The South Point, however, delayed unveiling its 2022 numbers, so Schrope and Stone — who both are from states without legal gambling — had to pivot. Stone drove two hours east, on I-20, to a sportsbook in Shreveport, Louisiana, and nabbed 10 sweet GOYs.

“With sports betting’s expansion,” says Stone, “some of these more-aggressive books are getting to the starting line even earlier.”

A Stone favorite is Utah plus 1.5 points at home against USC on Oct. 15. Utah is now -3. Says Stone, “The Utes should have been favored, at home, to begin with.”

Circa Sports released its Week 0 and 1 lines on May 22. Stone flew in that Monday, betting 11 sides and 10 totals. At William Hill inside the Four Queens, he made more wagers. He returned to Texas on May 31.

By May 26, DraftKings had listed lines and totals on the first two weeks, plus dozens of GOY spreads — 97 total offerings.

Schrope, 57, had circled Under 56 points on Northwestern-Nebraska on Aug. 27 in Ireland. But he missed the no-fanfare Circa reveal and the South Point’s surprise unveiling May 27. That total was soon whittled to 51.

Timing.

Should the 60-year-old Stone handicap, and bet, an Arkansas game at -6.5 today, and that’s the line before the game in five months, he’d consider himself an abject failure for tying up bankroll.

“And good Lord, God forbid,” he says, “if it’s 5.5 the week of the game, I failed miserably.”

ADVANTAGE ACTION

Stone produces a podcast, a weekly must-listen, and can be heard regularly on various platforms, like the Vegas Stats & Information Network. His handicapping operation serves select clientele.

As chronicled by the independent Sports Monitor of Oklahoma, Stone has an impressive 55.8% regular-season success rate, on 685 college football games, since 2015.

He is involved with two Arkansas games, giving 6.5 points at home over Cincinnati on Sept. 3 and taking 7.5 against Texas A&M, at AT&T Stadium, on Sept. 24. To Stone, both qualify as getting the best of it.

He also nabbed Louisiana-Monroe and 39.5 points at Texas on Sept. 3, which is now 38 around town. He had pegged that range between 31.5 and 35. The Longhorns play host to Alabama the following week.

Stone sees Texas rotating many players, especially on an uncertain offensive line and in some questionable defensive spots.

“I think Texas will have one eye on Alabama, as well. Hypothetically, Monroe could trail by 45, get in that back door with a meaningless touchdown with a minute and a half left, and get beat by 38.”

He took Under 52 in Clemson at Georgia Tech, on Sept. 3, which has dipped to 49.5 at Circa. Stone believes Tech won’t tally more than 14 against the nation’s best defense.

Via Costa Rica connections, Schrope got Ohio State -12.5 at home against Notre Dame and Georgia -13.5 against Oregon, in Atlanta, both on Sept. 3. He relishes giving fewer than two touchdowns in both games.

The Buckeyes are up to 14.5-point favorites, the Bulldogs 17.

Moreover, Schrope is monitoring Under 61.5 in Kent State at Washington on Sept. 3 and likes Virginia Tech giving only 8 at Old Dominion on Sept. 2.

CUT NO CORNERS

Even though power ratings form the foundation of his betting tactics, Schrope, a naval aerospace engineer, doesn’t promote them as the sole avenue to success.

“Plenty of people do well not making power ratings,” he says. “It’s the way I was indoctrinated into sports gambling, especially college football. So it’s what I do.”

Schrope takes teams’ final ratings from 2021 and massages those, according to the grade of personnel lost or acquired, for 2022.

He rates each of eight positions, scaled to opinion. Quarterbacks over running backs, offensive line over defensive line. Defensive backs are premium players.

“When you have a communication issue in the back, it’s often catastrophic — a touchdown.”

Those numbers get adjusted weekly, according to performance or injury, producing a single team rating. Intangibles like home-field advantage and a solid away-underdog coach, say, are other weekly situational ingredients.

By contrast, Stone produces new numbers every season for all 131 Division-I programs.

“I wouldn’t know how to begin, the way Paul does it,” says Schrope. They have a friendly rivalry and respect all methods. With so much annual change, though, due to the transfer portal, Stone favors his routine.

Both do their homework by hand, Schrope with pen and notebook, Stone employing dull No. 2 pencils and 8-by-12 Big Chief writing tablets.

“I’ve been doing it like this for so long, I don’t want to fall into the trap of not being thorough in my process,” says Stone, “or cutting corners, or making something easier than it needs to be.”

For those interested in devising power ratings, Stone suggests beginning with Jeff Sagarin or Sonny Moore numbers, available on the internet, to use as a template, tweaking to taste, taking years to polish.

Another Stone nugget?

Always have a shop in Shreveport as an option.

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