Run of Luck could be tested

Women want to be with him, NFL personnel men love him, and oddsmakers cannot beat him. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has everything going in his favor.

Luck has led the Cardinal (6-0) to nine straight point-spread covers dating to last year. Each game was a blowout.

So you want to bet against him? Good luck with that.

But handicapper Bruce Marshall of The Gold Sheet wants to take a shot. Marshall said the price is right for a wager on Washington as an underdog at Stanford on Saturday night. The line is 20½ at most sports books, but a few 21s are available, and ‘dog bettors would be wise to wait for the number to rise.

College football’s top eight teams are a combined 41-10 against the spread. Aside from Stanford, that group includes Alabama and Clemson (6-1), Oklahoma State and Wisconsin (5-1), Louisiana State (5-2), and Boise State and Oklahoma (4-2).

“The top teams see the poll-driven necessity for them this season to run up scores,” said Marshall (goldsheet.com).

Big money is at stake in this latest edition of the Bowl Championship Scam, and with multiple teams fighting for two spots in the title game, style points are important. Size matters in margin of victory.

Stanford’s closest call, a 45-19 defeat of UCLA on Oct. 1, was not close. The Cardinal also crushed San Jose State, Duke, Arizona, Colorado and Washington State.

“There might not be a bowl team in that bunch,” Marshall said. “Stanford labored to get past hefty point-spread imposts against UCLA and Washington State, teams inferior Washington, in recent weeks.”

We’re about to find out if the Huskies, 5-1 and off a 28-point victory over Colorado, are as legit as they look.

Steve Sarkisian is a good coach, and he’s doing great work with Washington sophomore quarterback Keith Price, whose 21 touchdown passes rank second in the nation. Still, the Huskies are not as solid on defense, allowing 28.5 points and 419.7 yards per game, and that’s a problem against Luck. The total of 63½ indicates another Pacific-12 Conference shootout is coming.

“Washington has plenty of offense to trade points. Price is already a smooth and polished offensive pilot,” Marshall said. “Their leaks on defense will probably prevent the Huskies from winning the game. But something happened late last season with Washington. The system finally kicked in, and the team has played with supreme confidence ever since, and Sarkisian has the Huskies on a point-spread uptick (9-1 ATS in the past 10) almost rivaling Stanford.

“It’s hard to vote against a team with a nine-game cover streak, one that has won all of those games by 26 or more. Therein lies the risk of recommending Washington because I could look dumber than usual if Stanford wins big again. But the line has crossed the threshold against a quality outfit such as the Huskies, who are worth strong consideration. The Cardinal is due for a spread loss, and this is the week.”

Last week, a professional bettor suggested to me that Colorado State and Mississippi were live ‘dogs. He also recommended a king cobra as a nice pet. I declined in all three cases.

The Rams lost by 50 to Boise State, and the Rebels fell to Alabama by 45. Stanford, Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin also covered. The betting public continues to lay points with the big favorites and has been sharper than the sharps in that regard this season.

Public parlays linking the elite teams almost triggered panic among sports book directors last week. Only Oklahoma did not cash in a 47-17 win over Kansas. The Sooners opened as 33-point favorites, and the line closed at 37½.

“We were one game away from a disaster,” Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay said. “That would have been one of the worst days ever, from what I heard around town.”

The potential losses for several books, Kornegay said, were “seismic figures.” The Sooners’ failure to cover provided a life preserver, not that we as bettors feel bad when the books lose.

“We’ve lost six straight weeks on Stanford,” Kornegay said with disgust.

Luck is on a roll. But there appears a decent chance the Cardinal’s cover streak this season won’t reach seven.

■ CLOSING NUMBERS — I apologize for the past two weeks. But at least the losers were free. With my record plummeting to 17-20-2, here are five guesses for Saturday (home team in CAPS):

CLEMSON (-10½) over North Carolina; MISSOURI (+7) over Oklahoma State; NORTHWESTERN (+4½) over Penn State; Southern California (+9½) over NOTRE DAME; Washington (+21) over STANFORD.

Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts the “Las Vegas Sportsline” weeknights at midnight on KDWN-AM (720) and thelasvegassportsline.com.

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