Five weeknight college games to talk about. Three ranked teams in action. I’ve also got a quick baseball update for you at the very end. Let’s get to work.
Thursday, Oct. 7
No. 15 Coastal Carolina (-20, 73) at Arkansas State
ESPNU, 7:30 p.m. ET
I opened Coastal Carolina -19. Sharps bet me the favorite. I quickly moved to -19.5, and then to -20. I probably should have moved faster. As I write this, I’ve only taken 10 “grocery dollars” on Arkansas State. If you’re not an old-school bettor, that means 10 bucks. “Dollar” used to be slang for $100. If you called your guy and said you wanted a couple of dollars on a team, that meant $200. I’ve only taken 10 grocery dollars on the dog. It will probably take at least 21 for sharps to step in on Arkansas State. A little play both ways on this high Over/Under of 73. No indicators yet as to which way it might move.
Houston (-6, 59.5) at Tulane
ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET
Money has been trickling in on Houston at my opening line of Cougars -6. Not enough to move the number. The public is probably going to be on Houston. There are likely some sharp Tulane bettors waiting to see if the line goes as high as seven. Fortunes have changed for both teams since their season openers you may have watched on TV. Tulane gave Oklahoma quite a scare. Houston was trounced by Texas Tech. How could Houston be laying a TD on the road? Cougars are 4-0 straight up, 3-1 ATS since then. They impressed me last week when they routed Tulsa 45-10 as a 3.5-point underdog. Tulane is 0-3 straight up and ATS their last three, missing the spread by 26, 9.5, and 26 points. Markets have to adjust fast in college football. Sharps lie in wait looking for over-adjustments. Little play yet on my opening total of 59.5. I’m seeing 60 elsewhere. I have a feeling we’ll go up before kickoff.
Friday, Oct. 8
Temple at No. 5 Cincinnati (-29, 54)
ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
Very little action so far on the side or total. Cincinnati is in a letdown spot after a huge win at Notre Dame. The public may shy away from this big favorite as a result. Recreational bettors rarely take big ugly dogs. So, this one could stay quiet through kickoff. Best expectation is that some public bettors will lay the points on game day. Sharps may not step in on the dog unless they see 30.
Charlotte (-3.5, 60) at Florida International
CBS Sports Network, 7 p.m. ET
Not much happening yet here either. Though, the fact that my opening line of 3.5 didn’t move toward the key number of three could be telling. If sharps liked this home underdog, they would have jumped at 3.5. They didn’t jump. Remember that what “isn’t” happening at early numbers is often as important as what is. Sportsbooks have been very busy on Fridays this season. Adding playoff baseball into the mix this week will create even more buzz. We’ll see if this game gets caught up in the frenzy, or overlooked.
Stanford at No. 22 Arizona State (-12, 51.5)
ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET
I opened Arizona State -11. Sharps laid me the -11, and -11.5. I’ve stopped at -12. But, I see other shops as high as -13.5. When they bet me at the South Point, I’ll move too. Not yet enough action to move off -12. A lot of market respect for the Sun Devils right now. Both teams are coming off upsets where they covered by double digits. Stanford ( 8.5) beat Oregon 31-24 in OT. Arizona State ( 3) routed UCLA 42-23. But, let me remind you of something my close friend Gill Alexander has talked about often on A Numbers Game. Sharps pay a lot of attention to yards-per-play. Arizona State averaged 8.9 yards per play at UCLA last week. Monster number. It takes something like that to make sharps lay double digits in a conference game right out of the gate. Be sure you’re gauging ASU properly in your own ratings.
I promised to keep you updated on baseball playoff developments in my football reports. Boston’s 6-2 upset of the New York Yankees in the AL Wildcard game sent the Red Sox to Tampa Bay for the divisional round. I opened Tampa Bay -185, Boston 165 to advance. Stores with higher openers saw Boston money come in. I see it trending that way across the market. Anything can happen in a five-game series. Sharps look for reasons to bet underdogs.
Back with you tomorrow to look at big Saturday betting attractions like Penn State at Iowa, Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas), Alabama at Texas A&M, Georgia at Auburn, Notre Dame at Virginia Tech, and Michigan at Nebraska. Then, I’ll see you again the next day for a complete NFL breakdown. I’ve already taken a lot of action for Sunday NFL. Even that lousy Jets/Falcons game in London!
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.