Four games to look at for Thursday and Friday college football action. That includes Friday’s “Battle of Nevada” for the famed “Fremont Cannon” between UNLV and Nevada. That matchup creates a lot of buzz locally even in years where one team is a big favorite.
More on that in a second. We always go in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules. Let’s start with Thursday’s action.
Thursday, Oct. 28
Troy at No. 24 Coastal Carolina (-18, 52)
ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. ET
I opened Coastal Carolina -18.5. We initially took a little play on the favorite before sharp money came in pretty strong on Troy + 18.5. I dropped to 18. I see a lot of 17.5’s out there. I think it’s clear that sharps like Troy at + 18 or better. They just haven’t bet the Trojans at that price with me at the South Point yet. It’s probably coming and I could be down to 17.5 by the time you read this. The public definitely likes Coastal Carolina. Recreational bettors will either bet ranked favorites in TV games or pass. My ticket count is about 3/1 in favor of Coastal even though sharps are on the dog. Very little action so far on the Over/Under. That’s true for all four games we’ll be looking at today. We’ll just talk about team sides from here on out.
South Florida at East Carolina (-9.5, 56.5)
ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET
I’m still at my opener of East Carolina -9.5. The fact that the line hasn’t moved so close to a key number tells you a lot. If sharps liked the favorite, they’d have jumped in quickly. You always assume the public will take the favorite. Sharps would much rather lay -9.5 than -10 because a win is better than a push if the game lands right on 10. They didn’t bet. That tells me sharps are waiting to get at least + 10 on South Florida. There hasn’t been much betting of any type on this game so far. We’ll see what happens in the hours leading up to kickoff.
Friday, Oct. 29
Navy at Tulsa (-11, 47)
ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. ET
We’re still at the opener of Tulsa -11. Just a bit of play to this point. Low ticket count. The money is a bit slanted to Tulsa here at the South Point. But, I see some 10.5’s out there elsewhere in the market. Might be some sharps taking + 11 while it’s there, worried other sharps will beat them to the punch. Tulsa and East Carolina are both pricey favorites with losing records (both 3-4). The public probably won’t bet these mediocrities as emphatically as they would ranked chalk or winning teams. My read is that sharps are looking at value bets on South Florida + 10 or more Thursday and Navy + 11 or more Friday.
UNLV at Nevada (-20.5, 58)
CBS Sports Network, 10 p.m. ET
You’ve probably heard of Fremont Street here in Las Vegas. That’s named after explorer John C. Fremont, who led a Westward expedition through Nevada in the early 1840’s. His group traveled with a rolling cannon in case they ran into people not particularly happy to see them. A replica of that howitzer goes to the winner of the annual UNLV/Nevada game. The winning team gets to paint the cannon in their colors. Red for UNLV. Blue for Nevada.
The youngsters from Reno are almost three-touchdown favorites Friday to retain the Fremont Cannon. I opened Nevada -20.5. So far, good play both ways at that price. As I said at the top, this game annually creates a lot of buzz. It will be a well-bet game come Friday night. Given activity so far, I believe sharps would take UNLV + 21 if it became available. Though, some groups may like Nevada at -20 in a bounce-back spot off a close 34-32 loss at Fresno State. I wouldn’t be surprised if the game closes 20.5.
I’ll be back with you on Thursday to look at market activity in a slew of great Saturday games. Among the marquee matchups: Penn State at Ohio State, Michigan at Michigan State, Georgia vs. Florida (in Jacksonville), North Carolina at Notre Dame and Texas at Baylor.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.