Lang’s World: The Broken ATMs

I am old enough to remember using the ATM back when I was a college student at the University of Georgia. I walk to a row of them right there outside the bookstore, and withdraw $20 at a time. These days you can hardly buy an order of french fries for ten bucks, but back then, twenty dollars was enough for a sumptuous fast food meal outside of the meal plan plus a movie and a couple of games of pool in the Tate Center. This was a big night out for a broke college student. (And then there was the night my friend Mike accidentally added a zero to his ATM order and withdrew $200 instead of $20, which very nearly bankrupted him.)

These days we live in a mostly cash-free society—I can go weeks or months without opening the cash slot in my wallet. Still, the ATM remains, an idea or concept as much as anything practical, a place where we go when we need a little cash to help us along. There’s a deal we make, of course, to get that money. It isn’t free—it’s our money, we just store it away and get it when we need it.

Unless, of course, the ATM is broken, and then it starts just spitting out free money, like something out of a cartoon. That’s the dream, right? Free money?

Well, there are a few college football teams that have essentially been broken ATM’s over the years for those of us who like to drop a few dollars on the games. These are teams that we believe in, that we know no matter how high the line gets, this team has the capability to cover that number.

Here are three of my favorite broken ATMs this season.

Head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs


When you know, you know, right? It’s not always comfortable to admit it out loud, but most of the time, we know the truth, even if we don’t want to admit it. As a former UGA student, I try to watch their games with a distanced eye, to not allow my personal feelings interfere with the reality of how good UGA may or may not be.

But two weeks ago, I knew. UGA was playing Arkansas, a team that was undefeated at the time, with quality wins over Texas and Texas A&M on their ledger. Meanwhile, UGA was missing their injured starting QB, JT Daniels. I thought this was going to be a real test for the Dawgs, but they came out and ran up a 21-0 lead, and ended up winning 37-0.

My friends, UGA is for real. They are fine on offense, even if Daniels is still nursing a lat injury, but defensively this team is completely locked in. Consider this: They’ve played four SEC opponents, and have given up a total of two touchdowns to those teams. Meanwhile, teams like Ole Miss and Arkansas can’t give up scores fast enough.

More relevantly to this conversation, UGA has covered the spread in four of their last five games, and the one they didn’t cover was against South Carolina, where they missed the cover by just 2.5 points. They’ve had some big spreads, but haven’t had any issues covering — against Vanderbilt the spread was 35 points, and UGA won by friggin’ 62.

This Saturday, UGA hosts an undefeated Kentucky team, and Kentucky fans are, justifiably, riding high for their team. I mean, I got SportsCenter anchors who went to Kentucky talking trash to me on Twitter.

The thing is, Kentucky certainly is good this season. But they aren’t that good, and they’re going to lose to UGA. The line this week is over 20, but I still love the Dawgs to cover every week this season, no matter the number.


OK, I realize that I have now told you that it’s worthwhile to bet on the two teams ranked one and two in the country, and you are probably saying, “Thanks a lot, Norman Einstein!” But I tend to think these teams have risen to the top because of the way they’re playing, not that we are betting them because they’re 1 and 2,

ANYWAY, the Hawkeyes opened this season against an Indiana team that, at the time, was highly regarded. Iowa was favored by 3.5 points, and then they won by 28. A week later, Iowa played Iowa State, giving 4.5 points, and won by 10. Since then they’ve rolled, basically, even covering by half a point against a top five Penn State team.

Iowa isn’t a very fun team to watch — they grind it out offensively, and defensively they’ve been solid, but not flashy. But man do they keep covering, week after week. Iowa is 7-1 against the spread in their last 8 games, and this week they host a middling Purdue team and give 12 points. I don’t care — I’m sticking with these Hawkeyes.

Liberty Flames wide receiver CJ Daniels


By now if you don’t know about Liberty, I don’t know what to tell you. Hugh Freeze was a rising star coach in the SEC, got swept up in a scandal and turned up at Liberty, where he has built a spread-busting machine.

Consider: In their last 14 games, Liberty is 13-1 against the spread. It’s been a remarkable run, and as long as Hugh Freeze is content to stay up there in Virginia and beat up on these overmatched schools, I am content to continue putting money on them week after week, like this week when they are 32 point favorites on the road at Louisiana Monroe. (They’re 8-1 against the spread in their last 9 road games.) Give me Liberty or give me bust!

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