It’s been a frantic week already for college football betting. With a lot of factors in play, this might be the busiest midweek stretch so far in 2021. Many recreational bettors get paychecks at the beginning of the month. The unveiling of the first College Football Playoff rankings always creates a lot of interest. And, we had MAC games on Tuesday and Wednesday for the first time this season. Ticket windows have been busy day and night taking bets for Saturday’s most-anticipated marquee matchups.
I’ll run through market developments in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules. There’s been limited betting so far on Over/Unders, so I’ll only report line moves. Let’s get to work.
Saturday, Nov. 6
No. 19 NC State (-2.5, 56) at Florida State
ACC Network, 4 p.m. ET
Sharps took Florida State at my opener of + 3. I took a big bet at + 3 and another from a sharp who paid -125 on the money line to buy a half-point up to + 3.5. I dropped to 2.5 and it’s been sitting there ever since. The public is buying back on NC State -2.5, but sharps are not. That’s telling near the most important key number in football. FSU’s improved play has earned respect from the wiseguys. The Seminoles would have covered three straight if not for the crazy final play vs. Clemson last week.
Georgia Tech at Miami (-10.5, 63.5)
Bally Sports Regional Networks, 12:30 p.m. ET
Like Florida State, Miami’s had a nice recent run that impressed sharps. The Hurricanes have covered three straight (vs. North Carolina, NC State and Pittsburgh, with the last two being outright upsets). My opener of Miami -9.5 was quickly bet up to -10 and Hurricanes money kept coming in. I went to Miami -10.5 late Thursday morning and now I see some 11’s out there. Georgia Tech’s failed to cover four straight. It might take 11 or 11.5 to bring in meaningful dog money.
No. 21 Wisconsin (-13, 38) at Rutgers
Big 10 Network, 3:30 p.m. ET
Wow…sharps really pounded Wisconsin here. I opened Wiscy -11.5. They laid -11.5, -12 and -12.5. I’m up to -13 now, but I’m seeing some 13.5’s in the marketplace. I’ll take more bets before going higher than -13. Though disappointing early in the season, Wisconsin is a smash-mouth team that can bully weaklings. Rutgers was steamrolled 31-13 at home by Michigan State, and 21-7 at Northwestern. Sharps pay a lot of attention to the point of attack in college football. These bets are a reminder.
No. 9 Wake Forest at North Carolina (-2.5, 76)
ABC, noon ET
Really good betting game. I opened North Carolina -2, took a good-sized sharp bet on the Tar Heels and moved to 2.5. The public is on ranked Wake Forest. North Carolina has failed to cover three in a row (Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame). Recreational bettors stopped believing the preseason hype long ago. Are they believing too much in Wake Forest’s recent hype? We’ll learn Saturday. The public usually doesn’t like short dogs. They like this one. Important test for Wake.
Liberty at No. 16 Ole Miss (-9.5, 67.5)
SEC Network, noon ET
I had this matchup as part of my “games of the year” package last summer. I thought Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze returning to face his former team would provide a very compelling storyline. Since then, quarterbacks for both teams have placed themselves front and center in NFL draft conversations. This should be a helluva game. Earlier this year, I opened Ole Miss -11. Sharp money hit Liberty with enough confidence that I dropped straight to 10. That’s where it closed. I re-opened this week at Ole Miss -9.5. A sharp bet drove it to -10. But, Liberty money hit at the key number. One sharp bought it up to + 10.5 at -120 on the money line. I‘m back to where I started at 9.5. Might see-saw between 9.5 and 10 until kickoff. Who’d have thought I’d be telling you about writing a ton of business on a game involving Liberty?
USC at Arizona State (-8.5, 60)
ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET
I opened Arizona State -8.5. I see -8 and -9 out there. So, we’re right in the middle. The public is playing the Sun Devils. USC’s betting constituency has largely dried up. After losing by double digits to Utah and Notre Dame, the Trojans only beat hapless Arizona by a TD last week. Is there any fight left in this team? My opening total of 59 was bet up to 60. USC allowed 42 points to Stanford, 45 to Oregon State, 42 to Utah, 31 to Notre Dame, and 34 last week to Arizona. If you’re not fond of laying points with ASU, one way to “fade” USC’s soft defense is to bet the Over.
No. 5 Ohio State (-15.5, 65.5) at Nebraska
FOX, noon ET
I opened Ohio State -15. A sharp bet on the favorite took me to -15.5. I see as low as 14.5 out there. But, I respect the bet placed at my store. For now, I’m getting decent two-way play at 15.5. I’m confident sharps would come in strong on Nebraska + 16 if public betting drives the line that high between now and kickoff.
Navy at No. 10 Notre Dame (-21, 47.5)
NBC, 3:30 p.m. ET
Every game involving Notre Dame is a “marquee” game for betting purposes. I opened ND -20.5. I took an early bet on the Irish and saw the market moving up, so I went to -21. Since then, I’ve been writing pretty good two-way play. My opening total of 47 was bet up to 47.5 Thursday morning.
No. 11 Oklahoma State (-3.5, 49) at West Virginia
ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET
Sharps don’t think West Virginia can rise to the occasion two weeks in a row. The Mountaineers upset Iowa State on this field last week. I opened Oklahoma State -3 and sharps bet it up to 3.5. I’ve only received a little buyback on the underdog. Very telling because that’s right above a key number and because West Virginia is often considered a live dog by the market. Not happening here. I often tell you “what isn’t happening” is as important as what is. There isn’t sharp interest on the home dog at + 3.5. Oklahoma State has covered SIX straight games. And, there aren’t any lookaheads on the immediate horizon because the Cowboys don’t play Oklahoma until Nov. 27.
Tennessee at No. 18 Kentucky (pick-em, 57)
ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET
When sharps like Tennessee, their money sings “Rocky Top” until all the line value is gone. I opened Kentucky -2.5. Sharps bet the Volunteers + 2.5, + 2 and + 1. I have been getting public play on ranked Kentucky all the way down the ladder. But, sharp sentiment has driven the line to pick-em. For now, it’s the biggest sharp/public divide of the week.
Texas at Iowa State (-6.5, 59.5)
FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET
Good two-way play at my opener of Iowa State -6.5. It could be telling that this line wasn’t driven to the key number of seven. Texas money is pulling hard enough to keep the point spread where it started. It’s true that Texas is slumping, but the Horns haven’t been this big an underdog all season (just + 4 vs. OU in Dallas). This could be a heavily bet game Saturday because of its prime time kickoff. I took a sharp bet Under my opening total of 60.5. I dropped straight to 59.5.
No. 3 Michigan State (-3, 54) at Purdue
ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
The public has fallen in love with Sparty after the win over Michigan. We talked last week about how recreational bettors will jump all over a team that’s playing well rather than anticipate a letdown. I’ve been flooded with Michigan State bets at my opener of -3. I’m afraid to go to 3.5 because sharps will come in hard on upset-minded Purdue (who shocked Iowa three weeks ago, and knocked off Nebraska last week). If MSU money continues coming in at the same pace, I’ll have to decide if I want to risk a really big position against the public (with the 11/10 vigorish in my favor), or open the door to sharp money on Purdue + 3.5 that could expose my store to a big loss if the game lands exactly on three.
No. 13 Auburn at No. 14 Texas A&M (-4.5, 49)
CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET
This was part of my “games of the year” package months ago. Back then, I opened Texas A&M -7. Sharps laid -7 so hard I jumped to Aggies -8.5. There was immediate buy back on Auburn + 8.5. I dropped back to 7.5 only to see more A&M money come in. I ended up closing at 8.5. Much more back and forth than you usually see in a “game of the year” entry. This week I re-opened A&M -4.5. Haven’t moved with really good two-way play. Great betting attraction for the midday TV window.
No. 4 Oregon (-7, 51) at Washington
ABC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Another from my “games of the year” listing. Back then, Oregon opened -4. Sharps bet the dog at + 4 and at + 3. I closed at Oregon -2.5. You know Washington’s been a big disappointment this season. I reopened Oregon-6.5. Sharps laid that, pushing me to -7. No interest in Washington yet. I’m still taking Oregon bets at -7. I might move to 7.5 before kickoff. But, I’m always very careful around key numbers. I think sharps would come in strong on Washington + 7.5 if it becomes available.
LSU at No. 2 Alabama (-29, 66)
ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
Everyone knew LSU would take a step (or several) backward this season. In my “games of the year” package, I opened Alabama -17. I thought that was steep. Sharps disagreed…betting the game all the way to Alabama -19.5 before I got buyback on LSU. When I reopened this week, the game went on the board at Alabama -29 and hasn’t moved. Sharps have largely left this one alone. Public action has split so far.
That should give you a lot to think about! Best of luck with your college football bets. I’ll have a full market analysis for Sunday and Monday NFL as well.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.