We have wall-to-wall betting attractions Saturday with several big college football early games followed by high-profile nightcaps. Strong card top to bottom.
I’ll tell you up front that none of the Over/Unders in these big TV games were getting early attention. Sharps in particular have been waiting until game day to step in on totals. They like to have a firm grasp of the weather. I’d like to think I’ve been posting good openers too.
As always, games are presented in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes in your schedules.
Let’s take a look at the betting action for Week 3 of college football from behind the counter:
Saturday, Sept. 18
Michigan State at No. 24 Miami (-6, 56.5)
ABC, noon ET
I opened Miami -6.5. Sharps took Sparty + 6.5. One guy bought up to + 7 (I charge -120 to move a half point toward the 7 from either direction). I’m at Miami -6 right now. I’m surprised Miami has played so poorly this season: It was a contest with Alabama and then the Hurricanes barely got by Appalachian State last week. I expected better.
A quick side note. You might be wondering if you should “buy” half points in college football like that bettor I just mentioned. Generally speaking, I advise against it. College scoring is so volatile that the average game misses the spread by double digits. That’s why you shouldn’t bet teasers in the colleges (those extra points often don’t even mean anything) or buy points. In the case of Sparty, I can understand his thinking.
Best way to summarize it: Sportsbooks are happy when customers buy points.
No. 15 Virginia Tech at West Virginia (-2.5, 50.5)
FS1, noon ET
I opened West Virginia -3. A bettor took Virginia Tech + 3 for a limit bet. I’m at 2.5 right now. All the small bets have been on Virginia Tech, too. Very little interest in West Virginia so far. Sharps often like dogs in regional rivalries because they know they’ll get a big effort. Big recruiting game for the programs.
No. 16 Coastal Carolina (-14, 57.5) at Buffalo
ESPN2, noon ET
We got some interest here, which isn’t something we used to say about Coastal Carolina games! Now, though, the Chanticleers have become a TV attraction. I opened Coastal Carolina -13. They laid me the -13, and -13.5. I’m at -14, with nothing yet coming in on Buffalo. I think it’s inevitable that I’ll go to -14.5. If that doesn’t stop the chalk, I’ll have to keep going to -15.
Nebraska at No. 3 Oklahoma (-22.5, 62)
FOX, noon ET
You may be surprised to read we’re getting a lot of two-way action here. I opened Oklahoma -22.5. I’m still there because betting has split -- just what we like. Oklahoma showed enough vulnerability vs. Tulane that many bettors want the dog at that high price in a highly publicized rivalry renewal.
No. 8 Cincinnati (-4, 50) at Indiana
ESPN, noon ET
Before the season started, my good friend Chris Fallica of ESPN encouraged me to include Cincinnati in the South Point’s national championship “group” prop. The Bearcats are grouped with Alabama, Penn State, Iowa State, Texas and Miami. That group has received about 75% of the money. My price is down from + 225 to + 120. We’ll see Saturday if Cincinnati deserves its “sleeper” status (we know Alabama deserves its superpower status). I opened Bearcats -3.5 and some bettors laid that. One bought down to -3. I went to Cincy -4. They’re still betting me -4, though I see mostly -3.5’s at other stores. No Indiana money yet.
Purdue at No. 12 Notre Dame (-7.5, 58.5)
NBC, 2:30 p.m. ET
Another well-bet game. I opened Notre Dame -7. First action was a limit bet on the Irish that “bought” down to -6.5 (again, I don’t encourage recreational bettors to do this … the house gets the best of it when extra juice is involved). I went to ND -7.5, and bettors laid that as well. When I went to 8, there was buy back on Purdue. I’m back at ND -7.5 now. Action is pretty well split, though I’m vulnerable to a 7 because of that first limit bet. I’ve downgraded Notre Dame in my Power Ratings after the first two weeks. That close win at Florida State looked much worse after lowly Jacksonville State won on the same field, and last week Notre Dame barely got past Toledo.
USC (-8.5, 62) at Washington State
FOX, 3:30 p.m.
I included this game on our list because USC fired Clay Helton after its blowout loss to Stanford. I lowered the Trojans’ rating because he was popular with his players (even if bettors were constantly cursing him). My opener of USC -8.5 has been getting pretty good action both ways. Bettors in favor of the firing don’t seem to mind laying single digits with the much more talented roster. Washington State is obviously a dangerous home dog if USC does come in distracted.
No. 1 Alabama (-14.5, 59.5) at No. 11 Florida
CBS, 3:30 p.m.
Game of the day based on rankings, not the pointspread. I opened ‘Bama -15.5. My first bet was on the Crimson Tide, so I went to -16. Sharps took Florida + 16, then took + 15.5, then took + 15. I’m now at ‘Bama -14.5. I still see some 15’s out in the marketplace. Remember: You don’t get rich betting against Nick Saban. Sharps are betting against him this week at + 15 or higher. I don’t mind the relatively rare chance to root for him.
No. 22 Auburn at No. 10 Penn State (-5, 53)
ABC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Great betting game. We’re going to get a lot of action in this prime-time showcase. It’s another big “white out” for the Nittany Lions, and it’s National TV vs. a ranked SEC opponent. I opened Penn State -6.5. They took the dog at + 6.5, at + 6, and again at + 5.5. I finally started to get some money back on Penn State at -5. I think that’s where the game will settle. You South Point regulars know I’ll be wearing my Penn State shirt Saturday night. That would have been true even if all the early money hadn’t come in on Auburn.
Virginia at No. 21 North Carolina (-8, 66.5)
ACC Network, 7:30 p.m.
I probably haven’t adjusted Carolina as much as I should have. We opened UNC -9. Sharps took Virginia + 9, took Virginia + 8.5 and are still taking Virginia + 8. I’m seeing some 7.5’s out there, and may have to go there myself. No money yet on the favorite. Carolina looked awful in its season opener vs. Virginia Tech. This Virginia team has a creative offense that should only get better as the season progresses. Bronco Mendenhall’s team is a dog that could cover clean, or score enough late to come through the back door. I opened this spread too high.
Oklahoma State at Boise State (-4, 57.5)
FS1, 9 p.m. ET
Another great betting game. TV networks seem to be placing a higher priority on West Coast “prime-time” telecasts. We love that here in Las Vegas. I opened Boise State -5. Sharps took Okie State at + 5 and at + 4.5. Recreational bettors are stepping in on Boise State -4. I think smart money will stick with the Cowboys. I might end up as low as 3.5 because I’d rather be positioned on the side of the sharps. We’ll talk more about that through the course of the season. Sportsbooks love being “with” the sharps against the public, particularly having 11/10 vigorish in our favor.
No. 19 Arizona State (-3.5, 51) at No. 23 BYU
ESPN, 10:15 p.m.
Good two-way action at the opener of ASU -3.5. If you’re thinking of betting the home dog, remember that BYU is in a letdown spot after that emotional rivalry upset of Utah last week. I may have been in the minority, but I Iiked Arizona State’s hiring of Herm Edwards. I think, eventually, Sun Devils fans will look back and say, “we hired the right guy.” Possibly telling here that sharps didn’t bet BYU with the hook. If smart money thought the home dog was a good bet at the opener, that line would be a solid 3 by now.
Fresno State at No. 13 UCLA (-11, 63)
Pac-12 Network, 10:45 p.m.
See what I mean about these great late matchups?! We’re going to write a lot of business on this game. Fresno State took Oregon to the wire the week before the Ducks stunned Ohio State. UCLA scored big for investors that same Saturday against LSU. I opened UCLA -11. First money drove the line up to 11.5. Sharps bet it back to 11.
Rest up for a busy Saturday! See you tomorrow for a breakdown of Sunday’s NFL games. Then, again, next week at this same time for September 25 marquee matchups like Notre Dame-Wisconsin, Texas A&M-Arkansas, and Clemson-NC State.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.