Patterns in Sun Belt Money Games

Growing up a fan of a Forgotten 5 team, I knew it was inevitable.  The early season money game.

It supports the athletic department, and wipes away any doubt for an undefeated season.

I still get illogically excited about the David vs. Goliath match ups each year.  Illogical because I know a win probably won’t happen, but excited for the hopes of what might be.

There are certain games that come to mind when it’s my teams turn to take their yearly L; App State over Michigan, Arkansas State over Texas A&M, and South Alabama over Mississippi State.  It could happen!

In all likely hood, it won’t, but none the less these games intrigue me.  I wanted to see if there was a pattern going on in these Money Games, other than the obvious losses the Sunbelt kept taking.

Many of these teams only hope at getting the W, so to even the playing field I decided to look at games Against the Spread.   I found 57 total games SunBelt teams played on the road against P5 opponents in September and August since 2012 where the minimum spread was double digits.

I know some of these are not typical money games due to home and homes, but for data scouring purposes, this is how I defined it. I also stuck to teams that are current members of the Sun Belt Conference minus Coastal Carolina.

Yes, some of these teams were in different divisions/conferences during this time, deal with it.  After looking over the data three interesting patters stood out.

The SunBelt isn’t winning these games.

That isn’t very interesting, as they shouldn’t be winning them, but what was interesting is they aren’t doing it against the spread.  The win percentage ATS is 35.1% in this time frame.

Yet, not all teams are equal.  The worst offenders are NM State with one win to 4 losses, ULL with one win to five losses and Idaho with no wins for 6 losses ATS.

To Idaho’s credit this time interval was quite rough on the Vandals.  The 3 previous years from 2009 to 2011 saw the Vandals have 3 wins ATS against P5 teams during September and August.

The SunBelt award for upsets in these games goes to South Alabama.  In this time frame, South Alabama had only one loss to 4 wins ATS.  That is extremely impressive.  It will be interesting how Vegas views them in 2017 because of their upset of Miss. State last year.

After their upset over Michigan in 2007, App State didn’t win a Moneygame ATS in August or September until the instant classic last year at Tennessee.  South Alabama’s money game against Ole Miss intrigues me, I have a feeling I will be researching more of that game as time gets closer.

Of course, this major loss percentage should lead me to bet the house this year on losses ATS for SunBelt teams.  Please don’t, and please do not spend any of your money on gambling based on my pattern recognition skills.

For example, last year was an anomaly compared to the 4 years prior.  I believe Vegas underestimated the Belt last year.  The conference had 7 wins to 5 losses ATS in these money games for September and August.

I am intrigued to see if the ebb and flow of betting brings us back down to reality for the coming year, or if we continue this pattern ATS for money games.


The total bet is not too interesting, but a parlay might be worth it.

The Sunbelt went Over 53.4% of the time in these games and 43.1% of the time went Under.  The other 3.5% were pushes.

Personally, I do not think this is too interesting based on the number of games played, but what is interesting is a parlay bet with Loss and Over.  If everything was equal, we should see the occurrence of Loss and Over happen roughly 25% of the time, but it occurred 37.9% of the time for these years.

It would be worth making this type of parlay bet if we noticed the trend happening roughly more than 28% of the time.  Of course, you will lose more bets than you make, but the expected value would be worth it based on the amount extra made on Parlays.

Again, the 2016 season was an anomaly with this as well.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only person with a knack for numbers to notice this trend for the previous four years.


If the spread is in that in-between spot, really expect a loss.

Looking at these games, if the closing spread was between +21 and +28, so a 3 to 4 touchdown loss predicted, the Sun Belt teams had a major tendency of losing.

This spread interval occurred 15 times over the past 5 years and 12 of those times we lost ATS.   This anomaly occurred last year as well.  Even with more wins than losses in 2016, if the spread was in this range the teams went 2 for 4.

To sum it up, do not expect any upsets but we might see a trending uptick in wins ATS.  Keep an eye out on South Alabama to keep rolling ATS in these money games and look to see if Idaho can turn their luck around.

The Loss + Over parlay might be worth playing, as it seems that not only do SunBelt teams lose ATS in these games but there is also quite a bit of points put up.   Also keep an eye out for when these games creep between the +21 to +28 lines.

For some reason, the SunBelt is not beating these teams ATS in this pocket of points.  Mainly, don’t forget to get your hopes up!  These types of games are one of the many reasons that being a fan of a Forgotten 5 team is unique.


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