LAS VEGAS — The exceptional value of Kenny White’s College Football Power Ratings magazine is evident in the very first game of the season, when Nebraska kicks off at Illinois on Aug. 28.
Two Vegas sportbooks opened the Cornhuskers -9 1/2 points. However, White’s formulas peg the true line at Nebraska – 1/2 .
Therefore, taking the Illini and new coach Bret Bielema plus 9 1/2 points represents nine points of expected value (EV), a gold mine to seasoned gamblers who savor three- or four-point advantages.
“Illinois will be a hard-nosed, power-run football team that will control the line of scrimmage,” says White, a second-generation oddsmaker. “That game will be a battle. [Ex-coach] Lovie Smith brought in players, so Bielema is walking into a good situation.”
As do all who obtain White’s magazine. South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews ensured his property occupied the inside-cover advertising sweet spot.
Player ratings, which determine team figures used to spot invaluable line discrepancies, are vital to professional bettors. The daunting process can require years to perfect, demanding time, money and patience.
The magazine reveals all in 356 glorious pages.
“I would echo those same sentiments,” Andrews says. “The process is daunting. Kenny has laid it out very efficiently.”
I reached White in New Orleans on Sunday as he, his girlfriend, her three daughters and a niece all trekked back to Vegas, wrapping up a 2 1/2 -week RV holiday to Florida.
A kayak cruise down the Weeki Wachee River, near Tampa, rated high. Under canopies of maples, palms, gums and cypresses, they saw nine manatees but, thankfully, no gators or snakes.
“So clear, with a white-sand bottom,” says White, 58. “So relaxing.”
He had earned a leisurely float down a lazy river. He had just put the third edition of his magazine (cost: $12.99) to bed. If it isn’t in a local bookstore, visit KennyWhiteSports.com.
White was 9 when he first helped his father, Pete, at the ping-pong table, collating pages into three-ring binders that would become College Sports Today.
In 1977, White typed its entire fourth and final run, in which Pete tapped Notre Dame to win the national championship. The Irish beat Texas for the crown in the Cotton Bowl.
“I typed that in May, and in January the Irish did it,” White says. “That’s how I got hooked on sports betting. He predicted it that far out. I thought, ‘Man, that’s what I want to do.’ “
White would win the prestigious Stardust Football Invitational contest twice and hold executive posts at two premier odds-setting companies. He’s known as The Wizard of Odds.
95 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
White rates more than 9,000 players in experience, size, speed, strength, statistics and other intangibles. The average rating is a 0. Additional adjustments for quarterbacks make QB three times as important as any other position.
North Carolina’s Sam Howell (12.5), Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler (10.5) and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral (10) top that chart this year.
Team figures and home-field advantages establish spreads, totals and final scores of every game. At 80, Pete White still computes player ratings, which Kenny uses for confirmation.
“[It’s] to ensure I don’t have an All-America as an average player,” Kenny says. “That way, I know we’re pretty close in our ratings. Sometimes I’ll have a guy a 2, he’ll have him a 1. Great — I make him a 1 1/2 .”
That’s 95 combined years of betting experience. During the season, Kenny will update all figures weekly at ThePowerRatings.com.
Of the three Illinois FBS programs and Notre Dame, the Irish check in at 119.5, with a projected 12-0 regular-season record this year. Illinois (106, 5-7), Northwestern (101.5, 3-9) and Northern Illinois (92.5, 3-9) round out the quartet.
Clemson (134, 12-0), Alabama (133.5, 12-0), Oklahoma (132.5, 12-0), North Carolina (125, 10-2) and Washington (121, 12-0) comprise White’s penthouse. New Mexico State (79) and Bowling Green and Massachusetts (both 80) reside in the basement.
He has Southern Illinois (94) among the top 10 FCS programs. Illinois State is an 89, Western Illinois 81 and Eastern Illinois 69.
TAKE KENNY’S LEAD
The magazine reveals other advantage plays over the first two college football weeks. White especially likes Clemson -3 against Georgia in Charlotte on Sept. 4, since his components make it Clemson -14 1/2 .
Those fond of seeking additional value can tease that to Clemson +3, covering 1- and 2-point final spreads, either way, to guard against a tight battle — an extraordinary 17 1/2 points of EV.
Of course, teasing requires a parlay to another game, with a reduced payout. Professionals shun such action. As a recreational punter, though, I seek maximum safety, minimal sweat and cash in return for this small slip of paper.
Northwestern opened -7 1/2 at home against Michigan State on Sept. 3, but White has the Spartans -4 1/2 . Tease MSU +7 1/2 an additional six points, to +13 1/2 , and there’s 18 points of EV.
White also has Utah State -1 1/2 at Washington State on Sept. 4. The line is Cougars -13. Pumping that +13 to +19 points for Utah State creates immense value for the team White pegs as the slim favorite.
Which brings Andrews back to Nebraska-Illinois.
“If you’re a follower of Kenny’s, I would tell you to be betting on the dog,” he says. “Following Kenny is one of the better ideas out there. Take a lead with Kenny’s evaluations and, yeah, I’d say you’ll probably wind up OK.”