It’s another big Saturday in college football, highlighted by Wisconsin-Notre Dame and high-profile conference showdowns across the Power 5. My betting breakdown is presented in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules.
Here’s what the Week 4 college football action looks like from behind the counter.
Saturday, Sept. 25
No. 18 Wisconsin (-6.5, 46.5) vs. No. 12 Notre Dame (in Chicago)
FOX, noon ET
This was part of the South Point’s “Games of the Year” promotion a few months ago. Back then, I opened Wisconsin -4. Sharps (and some Notre Dame fans) took the dog. I closed at Wisconsin -3.5. This week, I re-opened Wisconsin -6 … and sharps bet me up to -6.5! That’s how much perceptions have changed for these teams, particularly the Fighting Irish.
I have been getting some buy back on Notre Dame + 6.5, and I see some 6’s around the market. This one might go back and forth between 6 and 6.5 between now and kickoff. There is already a good ticket count both ways. And we know this will be a heavily-bet game. My opening Over/Under of 46.5 hasn’t moved yet. Early bets have been on the Under.
Through the rest of today’s report, if I don’t mention a game’s total, it’s because betting has been quiet.
No. 24 UCLA (-4, 58.5) at Stanford
Pac-12 Network, 6 p.m. ET
You have to drop several games down the schedule to get to this one. I opened UCLA -5.5. Sharps took Stanford + 5.5 and + 5. I skipped 4.5 and went straight to 4. Bruins money has been coming in since. I see some 4.5’s out there. Another game with a good ticket count both ways. Sharps that took Stanford as an underdog at USC didn’t see anything to dissuade them from expecting another great effort in Pac-12 play. UCLA bettors that cashed against Hawaii and LSU may think -4 or -4.5 is cheap in a bounce-back spot off the Fresno State loss. A lot of betting action already.
Oregon State at USC (-11, 62.5)
FS1, 10:30 p.m. ET
I opened USC -13, and took at wiseguy bet on Oregon State at + 13. More sharp bets came in at + 12.5, + 12 and + 11.5 down the ladder. I’m at 11 right now. There hasn’t been much buy back yet on USC, but I do think we’ll get some. USC did have that great second half at Washington State last week. Maybe they played out of their minds to show support for fired head coach Clay Helton. Sharp handicappers seems to be that the Trojans will fall back to earth after that. Smart money definitely likes Oregon State at + 11.5 or better. We’ll see what the public does between now and that late kickoff.
Louisville (-1.5, 62) at Florida State
ESPN2, 3:30 p.m. ET
This was also part of the “Games of the Year” package. Back then, I opened Florida State -3 and it didn’t get bet enough to move. This week, I opened Louisville -2.5. Sharps took the dog at + 2.5. Got some more nibbles at + 2. I’m at 1.5 as I write this. It may seem odd to you that sharps would bet on a team playing so badly. Many veteran sharps, purely on principal, will fade a big line move like this. If “informed” opinion was Florida State -3 before the season, should a pointspread change this much if there haven’t been big roster changes? My opening total of 62.5 is down to 62 after some Under bets. I should remind you that early-week Unders are worth your attention because sharps didn’t bother waiting to see if public money drove the number higher.
West Virginia at No. 4 Oklahoma (-17, 56.5)
ABC, 7:30 p.m. ET
I opened Oklahoma -16.5. They bet it up to -17. I am getting some buy back the other way. Sharps preferring the dog are happy to take + 17 (or better if it becomes available later) against this soft OU defense. Recreational bettors may not want to lay chalk with Oklahoma after less-than-stellar results as favorites vs. Tulane and Nebraska. My opening total of 56 is up to 56.5 after some Over bets.
LSU (-2.5, 56) at Mississippi State
ESPN, noon ET
Note the time change to an early start. There are adjustments all over the card, so be sure you know when the games you want to bet are going to kick off! I opened LSU -2.5. Still there with decent play both ways. Remember that any line sitting on 2.5 for a long time is telling you that sharps don’t like the favorite. If smart money wanted the favorite, the line would have moved to the key number of 3 (or higher) -- always a good rule of thumb in college and pro football. If you see a “settled” 2.5, sharps are often betting the dog to win outright on the money line.
Texas Tech at Texas (-8.5, 61)
ABC, noon ET
Another time change to an early kick. My opener of Texas -8.5 hasn’t moved and I see some money showing elsewhere on the underdog, but I’m going to take a bet before I move. Texas Tech impressed in its season opener at Houston. I’m interested to see how the Red Raiders play in Austin.
No. 14 Iowa State (-7, 47.5) at Baylor
FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET
I opened Iowa State -7. The first bet I took was from a sharp on the favorite, so I went to -7.5. A different sharp bettor jumped in and took the dog. We’re back where we started. Really good two-way action. I should note that the significant money on Baylor is at + 7.5 rather than + 7. I think 7 is probably the right number. Points are at more of a premium in games with low Over/Unders. Sharps will take the hook again if they see it.
Tennessee at Florida (-19, 63)
ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
Very little interest in Florida so far. Gators are in an obvious flat spot after that emotional effort vs. Alabama last week. I opened Florida -20.5. Sharps bet Tennessee at + 20.5, + 20 and + 19.5. I’m at 19 now, with no buy back yet to report. My opening total of 63 has received two-way play.
No. 9 Clemson (-10, 47.5) at NC State
ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET
Good action both ways on my opener of Clemson -10. Are we starting to figure out that Dabo Swinney isn’t such a great coach when he doesn’t have superstar athletes that can bulldoze lesser teams? Just 3 points on the scoreboard vs. Georgia, then only 14 against Georgia Tech. My friend Kenny White loved NC State entering the season. This is a great spot for them to make a statement as a home underdog. My opening total of 47 was bet up to 47.5. I’m getting pretty good two-way action at that current price. It’s telling that I’m seeing so many Under bets in that two-way mix at a low total before the weekend.
Nebraska at No. 20 Michigan State (-5, 52)
FS1, 7 p.m. ET
Another game with good two-way action at my opening line. Now that we’re in conference play, the numbers will only get tighter (less pollution from talent mismatches in non-conference “scrimmages”). Michigan State has looked great, but could be flat (and tired) off the statement win in humid Miami last week. Nebraska looked much more competitive at Oklahoma than it did in the season opener vs. Illinois many of you watched back in Week 0. The spread of Sparty -5 may hold until kickoff.
No. 7 Texas A&M (-5.5, 47.5) vs. No. 17 Arkansas (in Arlington, TX)
CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET
Could be a terrific game. I told you before Texas-Arkansas that I thought the Hogs weren’t getting enough respect. My opener of A&M -5 was bet up to -5.5 here at the South Point. I’m seeing anywhere from -4.5 to -6 in other spots. I don’t want to give away too many points in a game with a low total. It would take a lot more Aggie money to push me up to the full six. Remember that this is an afternoon kickoff, even though the matchup is listed at the bottom of the Nevada rotation. If you want to bet the side or total, get in before kickoff.
A lot of great betting games Saturday. That will be true again Sunday in the NFL with betting attractions like New Orleans/New England, LA Chargers/Kansas City, Tampa Bay/LA Rams, and Green Bay/San Francisco. I’ll be back tomorrow at this same time for a market report on the full pro slate.
Then, I’ll see you again next week at this time for to look at marquee college matchups including Michigan/Wisconsin, Cincinnati/Notre Dame, Ole Miss/Alabama, Arkansas/Georgia, Auburn/LSU and Oregon/Stanford.
Thanks again for all the great notes and comments this month. Best of luck at the betting window.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.