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"Protect Your Unit" Game Returns Next Week

So how was your summer? Did you take a vacation? Chill out at home? Maybe lose a few pounds?

Good, good, nice to hear. OK, pleasantries out of the way... the "Protect Your Unit" Game is back!

And here it is. Our own bloggers, along with many of our Big East blogger friends, will again team up to prove how little we know about college football betting. Along the way, we will trash talk each other endlessly and see the many creative ways Hoya Suxa can curse Georgetown's very existence without using any of the magic words.

Last year, you may remember we had a bit of... let's call it a loophole in the rules, which a few players figured out how to exploit. By the middle of November, the game was nearly useless after Andrew from The UConn Blog and Scott from Bearcats Blog hit outrageous mega-parlays and won themselves tens of thousands of fake dollars. This year we've closed those loopholes to keep the game competitive all the way through, and we've also introduced a "sudden death" game for when players lose all their fake money.

Invitations have already been sent out to all Big East football bloggers on SB Nation, plus a few special guests and some non-SBN participants from last year like Scott from Bearcats Blog, our defending champion. (Sorry to folks like Anonymous Eagle and One Foot Down, but we had to draw the line somewhere. It's a real slippery slope, not to mention I'm not smart enough to write a script to collect all your picks online so I have to do all this by hand.) Starting next weekend, I'll post everyone's picks and commentary on a weekly basis as we show you how not to invest your hard-earned money in the short-term football futures market.

The rules of the game are after the jump, in case you have a serious case of insomnia that needs curing.

THE SEASON: The contest begins September 1 and will run for each week of the regular season (not including the week of the Army/Navy game). The entire bowl season will be the last week of the contest.

If God forbid you feel like hitting up some Tuesday or Wednesday night MACtion, you will need to send those picks before the game starts and it will be included in the same week as that following weekend's games. (NOTE: If you actually bet on a MAC or Sun Belt game, regardless of when it happens, there's a good chance you will win that week's Most Degenerate Bet award.)

THE SITE: We will use for all odds. The site lets you "place" bets without logging into an account or betting actual money, so you can figure out how much you can win with the games you want to pick.

ODDS: Whatever the odds are on as of Thursday at or around 12:01am Eastern time are the odds that will be locked in for all bets made. I will grab all of the lines on the board sometime near the deadline and e-mail them to everyone so you know exactly what you can bet on. Any game not on the board when I send that e-mail to you cannot be bet on.

ALLOWABLE BETS: You can make the following bets on individual games. (No prop bets, futures bets, or anything other than bets on individual games.)

- Point spread
- Money line
- Over/under
- 6 Point Teaser (based on point spread, must win all non-pushed games to win the bet)
- 10 Point Teaser (based on point spread, must win all non-pushed games to win the bet)
- Parlays (must win all non-pushed games to win the bet)

The money lines, teasers, and parlays are all ways you can win money quickly if you fall behind, or if you want to jump out ahead early on. Teases and parlays will be limited to a maximum of three teams or parts. A three-team parlay pays 6:1 odds, so there's still an opportunity to catch up quickly, but now you can't win like $25,000 off one ridiculous parlay.

If there is a push in a teaser or a parlay, the game will be backed out of your bet and the math will be re-calculated for a teaser or parlay with the remaining games included. For instance, a 3-team tease would turn into a 2-team tease with the pushed game removed. There can be no pushes in a money line parlay because there are no ties in college football.

The site lets you place fake bets and figure out how much money you can win on them. This site also makes it easier for me to do the math.

BANKROLL: Everyone will start with $1000 in fake money. There's a theoretical limit to how much money you can win, but it is a really large number.

MINIMUM/MAXIMUM BETS: You must have between 5% and 25% (or between $50 and $250, whichever is greater) of your bankroll in play each week.

There is no minimum bet on a single game. For example, if I want to place the Randolph and Mortimer Duke bet of $1 on Syracuse to lose every single week just to mess with Glaude, that is allowed and quite honestly encouraged.

MINIMUM/MAXIMUM NUMBER OF BETS: You must bet on at least three games in some form or fashion, whether it's individually or as part of a teaser or parlay. At least one of these games must involve a Big East team. There is no limit to how many games you may bet on in a given week, as long as the sum of your bets does not exceed the weekly maximum.

During bowl season, you must bet on at least five games in some form, and at least two of them must involve a Big East team. Also the maximum bet for bowl season will increase to either 50% of your bankroll, or $500, whichever is bigger. (NOTE: I changed this midstream from 40%/$400, and then everyone bet to the new maximums, so it stuck.) I'll remind you of this when the time comes, and the betting will be done in waves so you don't have to bet on BCS games 3-4 weeks in advance.

THE VIG: There will be a 10% vig taken off the top of all winning bets. (For instance, if you win a bet for $200, you will only actually win about $180.) Toro insisted we add this touch of casino realism so that we can prove how hard it is for a gambler to finish an entire college football season ahead. Consider the vig when figuring out how much you need to bet to win a certain amount of money. (Toro is also telling me the vig is taken off LOSING bets, but I'm not going to tell you to bet $220 to win $200. If you want to do it that way, fine with me. It makes the math easier.)

RUNNING OUT OF MONEY -- "SUDDEN DEATH" BET: If you burn through your entire $1000, you will have one (1) chance to stay in the game. The week after you run out of money, you must successfully pick one Big East game against the spread. If you win the bet, you get $500 to continue playing in future weeks (although you are still in the books as -$1000 for the season). If you push the bet or lose, you are out of the game. Only one sudden death bet per customer. If you lose the entire extra $500, you are out of the game.

"BYE WEEKS": While it's more fun if you play every week, if you're just not feeling any of the games you are allowed up to two "bye weeks" where you don't place any bets. If you skip more than two weeks, you're not eligible to win the title but you may continue betting for fun and amusement.

You are not allowed to use one of your bye weeks during the bowl season. Underbets (if you don't bet enough games or enough money) will count as bye weeks. Any bets made as part of an underbet will not count.

ANNOUNCING BETS: Bets are due by the time the ESPN game kicks off on Thursday night of a given week. You can send them just to me, or to everyone in the contest. Rants, trash talk, cheap shots, insults, and whatever else you want to say along side your picks is obviously encouraged.

POSTING TO VOODOO FIVE: I will post everyone's bets for the week (along with your editorials about them) to Voodoo Five on Friday. Once the games everyone has bet on that week are finished, I will try and have all the results posted within 48 hours.