Six Thursday or Friday night college football games to discuss this week. Two ranked teams are in action, as well as a preseason national championship contender that’s fallen all the way out of the rankings.
Let’s run through the slate in Nevada rotation order.
Thursday, Oct. 14
Georgia Southern at South Alabama (-3.5, 50)
ESPNU, 7:30 p.m. ET
Good action on this game so far. I opened South Alabama -3. First few bets actually came in on the dog, just not enough to move off a key number. Wednesday morning, one of my sharps laid the three pretty aggressively. I’ve moved to USA -3.5. Other spots in the market are moving my direction. I think we’ll see all the three’s drift higher. Recreational bettors usually like TV favorites, particularly when betting for entertainment in conferences they don’t normally follow. There hasn’t been much Over/Under betting yet in these early college games. I won’t mention those until we get down to the San Diego State/San Jose State game in a bit.
Navy at Memphis (-10.5, 55.5)
ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET
I opened Memphis -10. There was some early public play on the home favorite. I liked them a bit myself. When I saw the market move to Memphis -10.5, I moved too. No buy back yet on Navy. I’m glad I moved when I did. The public is going to bet the favorite or pass. I don’t have a sense yet of what number would bring sharps in on the dog.
Friday, Oct. 15
Clemson (-13.5, 45) at Syracuse
ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
Very interesting. My ticket count is about 2.5/1 for Syracuse. Rare to see the public betting against a perennial superpower in a prime time TV game. That’s how far Clemson has fallen this season. The Tigers were No. 3 in the AP preseason poll, garnering six first place votes. They’re not even ranked any more. Straight up record is 3-2. A “perfect” 0-5 against the spread, missing the market in ACC games by 21.5, 16.5, and 8.5 against Georgia Tech, NC State and Boston College, respectively.
I opened Clemson -14.5 because Syracuse is still out-manned talent-wise. Sharps took the Orange + 14.5. I dropped to 14. Wednesday morning sharps stepped in again on Syracuse. I’m down to 13.5. Might have to drop further before there’s any buy back on Clemson. Sharps and the public are in agreement so far. Investors who supported Clemson earlier this season aren’t ready to throw good money after bad.
Marshall (-11, 66) at North Texas
CBS Sports Network, 7 p.m. ET
Not much happening at all here. Very little play. No movement off my opening side and total. Easy for this game to get overshadowed given the other Friday matchups.
No. 24 San Diego State (-9, 41) at San Jose State
CBS Sports Network, 10:30 p.m. ET
That’s right, San Diego State has crept into the rankings. A straight-up record of 5-0, with four straight covers (including an overtime upset of Utah). I opened SDSU -9. My first bet was from a sharp on San Jose. I dropped a full point to 8. Soon, other sharps were laying back SDSU pretty strong. I went straight back to -9. As I write this, sharps are even laying -9. I might have to go up more before kickoff if the public wants this TV favorite. Over/Under was bet up from an opener of 40.5 to 41.
California at No. 9 Oregon (-14, 53.5)
ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET
No movement off my opener of Oregon -14. Oregon is definitely getting bet by the public. But, I’m seeing some 13.5’s out there. I have a feeling the wiseguys like this dog. I won’t move my line until I take a bet on Cal. Probably a game where sports books will be positioned with sharps against the public. Not clear if the line will settle at 13.5 or 14. You may be wondering why sports books take positions like this. Frankly, it’s impossible to “split the action” in most games. While individual sharps bet bigger than your typical fan, the sheer volume of public action is much larger than the sum of sharp action. Sportsbooks have learned over the years that such positioning, with the 11/10 vigorish in our favor, is the best way to earn money over the long haul.
Back with you tomorrow to look at marquee matchups on the huge Saturday slate. I’ll return Friday for the NFL. The public has plenty of ammunition after winning big in college and pro football last weekend. That should make for a wild few days in Las Vegas and across the betting landscape.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.