CFB '23 - Week 11 Recap

Houses dying, houses dividing, houses thriving, and dropping the ball prior to entering the end zone

CFB '23 - Week 11 Recap

10Ks Going Opposite Ways

Plus, The Incredible Ascents Of Foster and Williams

  • Bertolina Surges To Huge Lead The Hard Way Behind UCF, Duke
  • McCombs Tumbles After TCU Waltzes In Back Door
  • Bloxham, Andreason Deaths Leave Top-Five Goss Household As Lone Remaining Duo
  • Utah-Washington Turns On 7, Oregon-USC Turns On 15, Key Numbers To Some

:: Quick Programming Notes ::

  • There are three weeks left in the competition. First place does indeed take home $2,500. There is no money to the remaining participants, so Top 5 and Top 10 finishers will have the pride of an elite finish that lives with their name forever, but no coin.
  • The final three cards will only have ten games. Plan accordingly (i.e. bet on all of them liberally except the token ACC game).
  • Due to some previously scheduled incapacitation, the Wednesday email may be brief, to extremely brief, to incoherent, which is sort of like a priest saying there’s no homily this week. I’m sure you all will be devastated.

Don’t Hate The Game, Hate The Game Theory

yellowstone pube mustache character

Double-digit weeks are when the pace-setters indeed set the pace.

It started Friday at 3:15pm PT with No. 2 Robby McCombs getting 10,000 down on Texas -10 (heartbreak detailed below), ostensibly posting needlessly early because the temptation to also get 880 down on Wyoming +6, which kicked off a few hours later, was too great.

Both failed, and Robby tumbled down near the working class.

Off the back of these decisions, current No. 1 Austin Bertolina early Saturday morning took command of the situation one might say by accident. He copy-catted the 10,000 but on UCF +4.5, which had sharp-spot written all over it.

That alone would have kept pace with the leader had McCombs won, but Bert also went in with 2,000 on Penn State +4 and 5,000 on Duke +14.5. His result on the day was a net win of 11,650 and a commanding 10,000-Onion lead in first place.

Meanwhile, sneaky quiet No. 3 Jordan Olsen hopped on the Michigan -4 bandwagon to the tune of 5,000, and rode the winnings to a lonely second place — no one is within 10,000 Onions of him either way.

Regardless of the pace-setting, regardless of “ooh look, the leader bet 20,000” or “oh look, the leader only sprinkled 300,” we advised all of our sub-20th placers last week to get on their horse and go all-in on one event.

The little pube-mustache character from Yellowstone in the gif above realizing his own destiny? This could have been you.

Here’s who did, and here’s who didn’t, and whether they made the decision before or after McCombs’ Friday afternoon 10,000-Onion indication.

Didn’t Go All-In:

  • Chip Ormond (32nd) - after
  • Dave Ranscht (31st) - after
  • Nancy Fowle (30th) - after
  • Drew Bloxham (29th) - after
  • Zach Melaney (28th) - before
  • Brian McGuigan (24th) - before
  • Larry Moscowitz (23rd) - before

Went All-In But On Multiple Games:

  • Greg Welch (33rd) - after (he split)
  • Jackie Hopkinson (25th) - before (she split)

Went All-In On One Game:

  • Jamey Chandler (27th) - before (he won)
  • Kayla Bloxham (26th) - after (she lost)
  • Payden Tanner (21st) - after (he won)

Why the correlation to when McCombs went in? Because McCombs was the first of the Big Three leaders to post their exposure this week (880 on Wyoming and 10,000 on Texas), an action which reasonably should have influenced others’ behavior.

Before McCombs submitted, the above list had no way of knowing whether any of the Big Three were going to put something close to the 300 Onion minimum down on one game and then coast, or were going to race one another with large bets that could pull them further away from the pack.

Thus, there was no information at that stage (pre-McCombs’ submission) to guide the sub-20s behavior (except the Commish’s disregarded suggestion from last week). The sub-20s could have just as reasonably assumed that they should have gone all-in because of the general math of catching the Big Three. Or, they could have reasonably assumed that the Big Three leaders were close enough to one another to make large-value bets, pulling them if successful mathematically out of reach of the sub-20s, leaving the sub-20s merely to root for the Big Three’s large-value wagers to lose.

But once it became known that McCombs was exposing himself to either a 10,000-Onion win or 10,000-Onion loss, and certainly after it became known that Bertolina was exposing 17,000 (albeit across three games), it could have made sense for those sub-20s to make smaller nibbles here and there: “Maybe I actually don’t need to go all-in today, because if McCombs or Bert wins, I likely can’t catch them even if I go all-in for every remaining week, and if McCombs or Bert loses, I’m much more within striking distance of them than I am now.”

Instead of decision-making that correlated to the timing of available information at hand, what we found was a mixture of that and of seemingly non-purposeful chaotic decision-making that didn’t always align with winning the competition.

Channel-checks with Onioners indicated that some were taking a true balls-to-the-wall approach even after the Big Three posted, while others’ decision-making done prior to the Big Three posting totally disregarded the Big Three’s actions and aligned with just wanting to survive through all 14 weeks with a balance (“I Survived Onions 2023” t-shirts are forthcoming).

To each their own. But for those with aspirations to win outright (specifically those in the 4th place/4,300 to 13th place/2,200 range), the next calculus comes this Wednesday.

No Words, Just Data

Notable Notes

The abbreviated bullet point format of last week’s “News and Notes” section was actually well received. Statler and Waldorf continue to yell down from the rafters to shorten it up, Commish!

It’s a promise I cannot commit to. But hey, that’s the tradeoff of free entertainment.

  • Robby McCombs is only way down in 3rd because, for the second week in a row, Texas blew a 20 point lead (and a cover) in the second half. A fickle, fickle game.
  • The Huskies -8 suffered a two-pronged bad beat that was more like a two-pronged shot in the foot. With a five-point lead, the Huskies’ Alphonzo Tuputala intercepted a Utah pass and returned it 75 yards to the house — he just didn’t bring the ball with him the final yard of it. Utah recovered the unforced fumble at the one yard line. The five-point lead thus stayed at five. Then UW forced a safety. UW lead grows to seven. The spread was -8. With a few minutes left in the game and UW still up by seven, UW had a chance to ice it with a field goal from 25 yards out. Utah’s special teams got pressure and blocked the kick. Lead stayed at ….seven. RIP to three Onioners (and basically three more) on this nonsense alone. Tommy Hone, both Andreasons and Marc Monahan would have been 4th, 5th and 6th and 8th were it not for this nonsense. Instead, they’re gone.
  • Dan Lanning’s dare tactics with all manner of kicking continued to vex bettors this weekend. After like nineteen 4th down conversions didn’t work against UW several weeks ago, resulting in a push for the Ducks, two foregone extra points resulted in two missed two-point conversions, which meant that instead of the game’s margin turning on a normal number, like 17 or 24, the lead was flip-flopping multiple times between 15 and 22. Funny enough, the Onions spread here was Oregon -15.5.
  • We give background and context to the woeful tale of Kayla Bloxham in the obituaries. But for the raw facts: Week 10, with a balance of 5,265 and in 6th place, she went 4,265 on Texas -4, and lost the cover by one point after Texas blew a 20-point lead. That win would have put her at 9,146 and in 4th place. Sources have confirmed to HQ that the plan would then have been to go all-in again this past week on Washington -8 (which she still did, just with a tiny balance). And we just chronicled how that game went. The win would have put her in 3rd at 17,469. Two losses by a combined two points is the difference between extinction and 3rd with three weeks to play? Damn.
  • We brought you last week the improbable story of Shane Foster, who by chiseling away since Week 3 did the yeomans work of 3.3x-ing his balance and shooting from 84th to 8th, his lone losing week constituting a very minor 18-Onion loss. This week, Shane got down on USC +15.5 to the tune of 1,000, and as chronicled above, he covered. So now the trajectory looks like:

Week 3 - 84th - 955
Week 4 - 75th - 1,037
Week 5 - 65th - 1,119
Week 6 - 41st - 1,392
Week 7 - 38th - 1,374
Week 8 - 19th - 1,738
Week 9 - 13th - 2,735
Week 10 - 8th - 3,285
Week 11 - 5th - 4,195

Truly a remarkable run. He’s now 4x’d himself over 9 weeks, basically never having a losing week. If his run continues, this will be one of the all-time great David vs. Goliath stories.

  • As an honorable mention, a similar story is playing out at the hands of first-year Onioner Jake Williams. Like Foster, he too 4.5x’d himself and never dropped in the rankings over 9 weeks.

Week 3 - T-101st - 764
Week 4 - 96th - 601
Week 5 - 72nd - 832
Week 6 - 54th - 1,042
Week 7 - 54th - 669
Week 8 - 28th - 1,277
Week 9 - 22nd - 1,893
Week 10 - 19th - 1,866
Week 11 - 8th - 3,654

  • No Love For The ACC: Miami - Florida State became the second game on the card all year that no one bet anything on. The other was Virginia Tech-Louisville from Week 10. It’s particularly notable because both games boasted highly-ranked teams, and both games were featured in weeks with a condensed card, meaning there were fewer games to pick from on those cards than there were earlier in the year. In Week 8, Clemson-Miami received 0.6% of handle, the lowest of that week. NC State-Duke had the lowest handle in Week 7, and Georgia Tech-Miami had virtually the lowest in Week 6. Maybe we need to up our exposure in the southeast…

Week 11 Vital Signs

Onions In Circulation Going In To The Week: 119,165

Onions In Circulation Coming Out Of The Week: 108,287

Total Wagered By All Onioners: 82,458

Average Wagered Per Onioner: 2,577

Average Individual Wager Size: 1,114

Total Collective Onioner Win or (Loss): (9,435)

Average Win or (Loss) Per Onioner: (295)

Games With Highest Handle:

  • Oklahoma State @ UCF +4.5 — 16,766 (71% on UCF)
  • Utah @ Washington -8 — 15,004 (94% on Washington)
  • Michigan -4 @ Penn State — 14,754 (85% on Michigan)
  • Texas -10 @ TCU — 12,695 (100% on Texas)

Biggest Win or (Loss) Either Way For Onioners: Washington -8 (13,247)

Your Top 10


We entered the week with 33 of you and left with 27.

Enough precincts had reported by Saturday morning that, for the first time since the 2016 contest, we thought there could be a week with no Deadline Deadbeats.


Deadline Deadbeats:

(33rd) - Ryan “Show Me The Mun-ney” Munson
— This is not a flex nickname. Ryan is not screaming a la Cuba Gooding Jr., here. This is a nickname of shame. We’re asking Ryan to show us the money. In the form of Onions (which again, for the narcs, have no real-world value). That he couldn’t bring himself to spend. In spite of sitting in 22nd place. In spite of having a shot to catch the kings if he started a four-week all-in rollover. You made it farther than 150 others, yet forfeited your ticket to a fantastic voyage, Ryan. Fork ‘em over.

Those Of You Who Were Wrong Multiple Times:

None - despite so many of you wagering across multiple games this late in the competition.

And Now, The Dearly Departed:

(32nd) - Caden “The Flaming C” Wickwire
— Unbeknownst to the Polis, those of you who are hockey fans will be getting to know Caden over the coming months as he spearheads a new project in conjunction with HQ. And perhaps it is along this timeline which he’ll reveal to you, with passion and whimsy and heretofore untapped creative verve, the unlikely and dare-I-clarify heterosexual origins of his moniker — and why you’re likely to never forget it.

(31st) - “The Hong Kong Taylor” Beckstead — Is this one not obvious to people? Was there not a mysterious archvillian in a movie or a book whose code name was the Hong Kong Tailor? Maybe in comics or some such action hero nonsense? Think Ninja Turtles meets John Le Carre, a sort of man-behind-the-curtain force that steers the plot from the shadows? No? Well, Tailor Becksted, this is what I’ve always referred to you as, for better or for worse. And I genuinely thought it was a character from lore. A quick Google search finds no such character and reveals only that…there are some tailors in Hong Kong? At least the city is known is known for having very good tailors?

(30th) - “The Evil” Kayla Bloxham — Listen. This one is personal. It’s not that Zach’s former annual backup entry Kayla is actually evil. Of course she is not. Back in an older, simpler day, when both she and the Commissioner were contestants, we were rivals. Now, Kayla is no such rival because the Commish no longer shits in his own shoebox, if you know what I mean. There is no antagonism, per se. The Commish is washed (but, sits in the owners box) while Kayla still competes for championships (on the field). But back in the day, Kayla was always one bold step ahead, one sharp angle beyond what the Commish had calculated, the kid in class who swore they were nervous about the test but then smoked your B+ ass. If there was ever a game we were on opposite sides of, Kayla won. Every. Single. Time. And her success, as routine as the Earth taking a trip around the sun, showed out in the form of multiple T-10 finishes. Because it was so predictable, it just had to be nefarious. The nickname of "Evil" may have carried on through the years, Kayla, but know that it is a mark of my perverse respect. And know that I definitely did not cheer when you bombed out. In heartbreaking fashion. Two weeks in a row. By a total of two points.

(29th) - Shawn “Devoid of all (And)reason” — This is normally the part where I say something like, “Betting on Washington over a TD versus that Utah defense?? That was devoid of all (and)Reason!” And then the CBS sitcom laugh track plays. But in light of the Huskies -8 gambit that turned into a suicide pact in the Andreason household (as opposed to sending them both into the Top 10 at just the right time) I will have mercy. If what happened to Kayla on Washington -8 was bad, this is worse because your stakes were even higher. Had Washington just covered, you could have double-dated in the Top Ten with the Goss couple. So cute! Look how far you’ve come from, “the entry form isn’t working again, Commish!” What was devoid of all (and)reason was Alphonzo Tuputala dropping the ball, depriving you of your cover. That’s so gross I can’t even pretend to be the haughty Commish. At least Tammie still has /checks notes/ 25 Onions? Please come back next year and do it all again. (Maybe consider diversifying your positions if you’re both in the teens in the future)

(28th) - “Off The Marc” Monahan — The final Washington victim. As the Huskies lined up for the cover-clinching field goal in the 4th, with a seven-point lead, and with you needing eight points, and with me sure that UW would nail it to seal the win and cover, I grabbed a pen and scribbled down “that’s off the Marc!” just on the outside chance they missed the kick wide right or something. But it appears in doing so that I hexed it even worse and, Utah just stuffed it outright. So, not only did I hex your result and end your season, but the nickname isn’t even accurate because it wasn’t even off the mark because it never even got airborne because UW special teams is as leaky as its defense.

God Bless.

Your Leaderboard Heading Into Week 12