It’s the busiest weeknight slate so far this season. Eight games are set for Thursday and Friday night. Though these aren’t “marquee matchups” in the traditional sense, they are actively bet. These games get much more betting attention on a Thursday or Friday night than they would in the middle of a busy Saturday.
Let’s run through action at the counter so far. Note that there’s been limited interest in the Over/Unders as of our publication deadlines. I’ll only talk about team side betting in this report. Games are presented in Nevada rotation order.
Thursday, Oct. 21
Tulane at No. 21 SMU (-13.5, 70.5)
ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET
I opened SMU -14. There was some sharp play on the dog right away. I dropped to SMU -13.5. The public has been betting the ranked favorite. I may go back to -14 (or higher) between now and kickoff. It depends on how aggressively the public bets SMU. Tulane has failed to cover its last four games, missing the mark by 26, 9.5, 26 and 12.5 points. The more the public hears about that, the more likely they’ll bet SMU strong on game day. That bit of sharp action on Tulane at + 14 would grow quickly if + 14.5 came into play. You probably know 14 is a key number in terms of line value. Sharps respect numbers.
Louisiana (-18, 70) at Arkansas State
ESPNU, 7:30 p.m. ET
A lot of action for a Sun Belt game with such a high spread. I opened Louisiana -17.5. Sharps laid the number, driving it up to -18. Always important to note when sharps move the line away from a key number. Sharps stopped betting at -18, but the public is still laying it. Louisiana has been feast or famine this season. Arkansas State looked awful in non-cover blowout losses to Washington, Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina.
Florida Atlantic (-7, 57) at Charlotte
CBS Sports Network, 7:30 p.m. ET
Sharps laid my opener of FAU -6, then bet some more at -6.5. I went to -7. I’m starting to get some play back on the home underdog. But, not enough to drop back below the key number. We often draw good game-day action in these lesser conferences on weeknights. Not clear yet if the public is going to back this favorite or focus more on the others.
San Jose State (-5, 46.5) at UNLV
CBS Sports Network, 11 p.m. ET
I opened San Jose State -5. Haven’t moved. The public is on the favorite. I think the number’s a little high. UNLV is improving, having covered three straight. This is a great spot for the Rebels to get their first win of the season. San Jose State is coming off a double-overtime, heartbreaking loss to San Diego State. And, it had failed to cover five straight games before that slugfest (no touchdowns in regulation!). I don’t mind taking a position against the public here. But, if bets stay one-sided, I’ll have to consider raising the line. Sharps aren’t betting yet, which usually means they’re looking at the dog and hoping for a better number. If sharps thought -5 was a cheap line for San Jose, they would have laid it already.
Friday, Oct. 22
Middle Tennessee (-15, 56) at Connecticut
CBS Sports Network, 6 p.m. ET
Low ticket game so far. I’ve taken some underdog money at my opener of MTSU -15. Not enough to move the line. The public may not want to bet a big favorite that’s 1-4 ATS its last five games. UConn has had a “stay away” reputation for awhile now, but is coming off a win over Yale after earlier near-upsets of Vanderbilt and Wyoming as big dogs. So far, a lot more interest in the other Friday nighters.
Memphis at Central Florida (-1, 63)
ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET
Good betting game. I opened Central Florida -2. Wise Guys took Memphis + 2, and + 1.5. I’m down to one. Now getting some money back on UCF. I’m seeing a range of prices at other stores. Good ticket count both ways for us at the South Point. Neither team is in great form of late. Memphis is 1-3 ATS since upsetting Mississippi State. UCF has four straight ATS losses and got routed on TV by Cincinnati last Saturday. Sharps clearly like Memphis at + 1.5 or better.
Colorado State (-3.5, 58.5) at Utah State
CBS Sports Network, 9:30 p.m. ET
I opened Colorado State -3. Sharps bet that up to -3.5. I was watching this one closely. Colorado State is coming off four straight double-digit covers after a slow start. Utah State has failed to cover its last three after scoring upsets of Washington State and Air Force. Two teams heading in different directions. I was happy to get sharp input on my opener. We’re starting to take some money back on Utah State at + 3.5. This could be a game that hops back and forth between -3 and -3.5. Sharps will lay the three. We know that much.
Washington (-18, 46.5) at Arizona
ESPN2, 10:30 p.m. ET
I opened Washington -17.5. Sharps took the favorite. Like Louisiana, it moved away from a key number. Even at -18, we’re still getting money on Washington. Barely a nibble on Arizona. As disappointing as Washington’s been (1-5 ATS), Arizona has been abysmal (losing 34-0 to Colorado last week as a 6-point dog for just the latest example). Wouldn’t be surprised if this line goes higher by kickoff.
Back with you tomorrow to look at marquee Saturday matchups like USC at Notre Dame and Oregon at UCLA. Of course, it’s not always the marquee games that get the most action. Amazingly, as we speak, my most heavily bet Saturday game so far is Wake Forest/Army! I’ll find some off-the-radar gems for you to go along with the big TV games. See you then.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.