Let me be among the first to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. I know you’ll be busy the next few days. That’s why I’ve put together notes on all the marquee college football games here in today’s report. This will take us through Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the colleges. I’ll be back Friday afternoon to look at the weekend NFL.
Games are presented in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules.
Thursday, Nov. 25
No. 9 Ole Miss at Mississippi State (-1.5, 64)
ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET
I opened Mississippi State -1 and sharps laid it. I’ve been writing equal business since moving to -1.5, but I see it going to -2 in spots. I’ll take a bet before moving it higher at the South Point. Interesting that the number is moving away from the top-10 team. Sharps know there are a lot of live dogs in rivalry games. Hosting a ranked rival can get the juices flowing even more. Sharps have been betting the Over all week. I moved my opener of 61.5 straight to 62.5 on a sharp play. I went straight to 63.5 on another (not stopping at 62 or 63). Moving to 64 stopped the Over bets, but didn’t inspire buyback on the Under.
Friday, Nov. 26
Boise State (-2.5, 44.5) at No. 21 San Diego State
CBS, noon p.m. ET
Pay attention to this VERY early start time for a game kicking off in San Diego! If you live in the Pacific Time Zone, you might want to bet it on Thursday night. San Diego State may be ranked, but the market perceives Boise State as the superior team. I opened Boise -2.5 on the road. I’ve been getting good action slanted toward the road favorite. I see -3 in other stores. That’s such an important number in a low-totaled game. It will take very one-sided action to move me above 2.5. I know SDSU + 3 would be hit hard by sharps. Not much play at my opening total of 44.5. I’ll only mention Over/Unders in this report when there was a line move worth noting.
No. 16 Iowa (-1, 41.5) at Nebraska
Big Ten Network, 1:30 p.m. ET
I opened Nebraska -3.5. Then it was announced that Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez would miss the game with a shoulder injury. Some sharps bet us before I heard the news. We moved all the way to Iowa -1. I’ve been writing pretty equal business since the adjustment. Iowa must win this game, and hope Wisconsin loses to Minnesota, to claim the Big Ten West. Not much market respect for the Hawkeyes in that light. Iowa’s just 1-4 ATS its last five games and the cover was by one point in a game where they were outgained 409-277 by Minnesota.
North Carolina at No. 20 NC State (-6, 62.5)
ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
I opened State -6 and the first sharp bet was on the underdog, so I dropped to 5.5. A different group laid -5.5. So, I’m back where I started at -6. The public is a bit more interested in the favorite than the dog. More time for that to develop in Friday night’s main primetime football TV attraction.
No. 4 Cincinnati (-14, 57) at East Carolina
ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
A schedule change, putting this one in Friday’s midday TV window for network coverage. I opened Cincinnati -13.5 and sharps laid that, so I moved to -14. The public kept betting the Bearcats, who posted an impressive result last week. I’m writing mostly Cincinnati tickets at -14. I expect this will go to -14.5 (at least) by kickoff. I took a sharp bet at my opening total of 58. I’m down to 57.
Saturday, Nov. 27
No. 2 Ohio State (-8.5, 64.5) at No. 5 Michigan
FOX, noon ET
Are these guys playing this week? Haven’t heard much about it. The hype will finally come to an end Saturday. I opened Ohio State -8, right in the middle of the market. I moved to OSU -8.5 after taking a sharp bet on the favorite. I’m writing two-way business at 8.5. The public is definitely on the Buckeyes. I am seeing some sharp interest on Michigan at + 8.5. This one could jump between 8 and 8.5 between now and kickoff. I should note that I took a sharp bet on Michigan + 250 on the money line. I don’t talk much about teaser bets in college, but Ohio State is getting play at -2.5 in 6-pointers. Overall, ticket count is about 6-1 in favor of the Buckeyes as I write this.
Texas Tech at No. 8 Baylor (-14.5, 51.5)
FS1, noon ET
My ticket count is more than 30/1 for Baylor! It’s all public money so far. Relatively small bets. I believe sharps are waiting for at least + 15 before trying Tech. I see some 14’s out there. Maybe sharps are betting Tech at other stores. I’m not seeing it at our windows.
No. 14 Wisconsin (-7, 39) at Minnesota
FOX, 4 p.m. ET
I opened Wisconsin -6.5 and sharps laid it. A longtime customer even paid 6/5 to take Wisconsin -6, so I moved to Wiscy -7. Still getting public play on the favorite. No sharp interest yet on Minnesota even at the key number of + 7. Ticket count is about 4/1 for the Badgers. Personally, I think Minnesota is a pretty live dog getting that many points in such a low-totaled game. Smash-mouth old-school football. Sharps may be waiting to see if they can get + 7.5 before settling for + 7.
No. 22 Texas-San Antonio (-10.5, 60) at North Texas
ESPN+ , 2 p.m. ET
How can a game be “marquee” when it’s not even on regular TV? This is one of my most heavily bet games! I opened undefeated UTSA -12 and sharps took + 12 so hard that I dropped straight to 11. They kept betting, so I’m down to UTSA -10.5. Both teams are 8-3 ATS. But, UTSA missed the spread by 22.5 two weeks ago against Southern Miss, then had to score in the final moments to survive UAB last week. North Texas has covered five in a row, including an outright upset of Liberty getting 21 points. Last week, the Mean Green passed for 233 yards against Florida International on only seven completions. Could get interesting.
No. 13 BYU (-6.5, 64) at USC
ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET
Good play here. I opened BYU -7 and wiseguys took the 7, so. I’m now at -6.5. The public is laying the points with BYU. I think I’ll be back to -7 at some point. Sharps will likely take USC + 7 whenever it's offered. I expect a lot of Las Vegas betting interest for this primetime West Coast start.
California at UCLA (-7, 58)
FS1, 10:30 p.m. ET
I try to include UCLA in this report each week because we have so many customers/readers from Los Angeles. We had a huge handle last week for USC/UCLA. We lost that game. But, it was still a helluva Saturday for sports books. Here, I opened UCLA -7. I’ve taken some play on the Bruins, but not enough to lift the line off the key number. Sharps aren’t playing California with me. But, I do see some 6.5’s out there at other shops.
Oregon State at No. 11 Oregon (-7, 60.5)
ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET
Great two-way play at my opener of Oregon -7. The South Point has a satellite sports book in Oregon at the Chinook Winds Casino Resort. You can guess this is the game of the year at that site in terms of betting action. They’ve dropped down to Oregon -6.5 because there’s more local interest on underdog Oregon State. I wanted to make you aware of that. Chinook Winds is booked separately from the South Point.
No. 6 Notre Dame (-19.5, 52.5) at Stanford
FOX, 8 p.m. ET
I opened Notre Dame -18 and sharps laid -18, -18.5 and -19. I moved to -19.5 late Wednesday morning. It might take + 20 to attract Stanford money. I always tell you we have no trouble writing Notre Dame tickets. Irish are a perfect 6-0 straight up and ATS since losing at home to Cincinnati (and 8-1 ATS the last nine). Stanford is 0-6 straight up and ATS since upsetting Oregon.
No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 7 Oklahoma State (-4.5, 49.5)
ABC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Boy, has the market soured on Oklahoma. Sooners needed a fumble return TD to cover last week vs. Iowa State after losing badly at Baylor. Oklahoma State is clearly priced as the superior team. Home-field advantage by itself wouldn’t be worth this many points in a same-state rivalry game. I opened Okie State -4 and sharps laid that. I’ve been writing pretty good two-way business since moving to -4.5. I see some 4s at other stores. I don’t expect -5 to come into play. Sharps would definitely hit OU + 5.
No. 3 Alabama (-19.5, 56) at Auburn
CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET
Very good two-way play at my opening line of Alabama -19.5. I see some 20’s out there. But, I’ll wait until we get more top-heavy on ‘Bama before moving up. Sharps haven’t been betting with me yet. That early two-way play is all public. Sharps don’t seem to be betting Auburn + 20 at those other shops. They may be waiting to see if + 20.5 becomes available before kickoff.
Penn State (-1, 51.5) at No. 12 Michigan State
ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
A wiseguy played Penn State with me at my opener of pick-em. I’m still taking sharp bets at -1. My ticket count is about split. But, money is heavier on the Nittany Lions. Recent point spreads show that the market never bought Sparty as a playoff-caliber team. Here, MSU is currently a home dog to an unranked visitor.
Florida State at Florida (-2.5, 59)
ESPN, noon ET
I opened Florida -2, even with their recent poor play. Gators may respond well to their head coaching change. A wiseguy laid -2, so I moved to Florida -2.5. I’m starting to see some 3’s pop up. I won’t go there unless I take more bets in that direction. Note that Florida quarterback Emory Jones is doubtful. Line didn’t move on the news.
No. 15 Texas A&M (-6.5, 45.5) at LSU
ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
I’ve been taking bets on the Aggies, but not enough to move off my opener of Texas A&M -6.5. The public definitely likes the ranked favorite. I’m confident sharps would bet LSU if + 7 became available. I don’t see any 7’s out there. Nobody’s willing to test it yet. Sportsbooks may just root for LSU + 6.5 knowing the 11/10 vigorish is in our favor. A lot of time between now and kickoff for drama to develop.
What a feast! I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your loved ones. I’ll be back with you at the usual time Friday afternoon with my weekly NFL market report.
Cris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.