There is a lot to talk about this week, with a busy Week 5 schedule of marquee matchups in college football. Here is my report from behind the counter on the biggest games, along with a couple of extra games with meaningful early line moves. Let’s get to work.
Note that matchups are presented in Nevada Rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules. Be sure to pay very close attention to starting times this week. Some games early in the rotation have been time-changed to prime time; some near the bottom actually kick off early.
Sat., Oct. 2
Boston College at No. 25 Clemson (-15, 46)
ACC Network, 6:30 pm. ET
Here is an example of a time change. This will be prime time on the East Coast, mid-afternoon here in Las Vegas. I opened Clemson -16. Sharps took BC + 16, and + 15.5. I’m down to 15, and I see it as low as 14.5 elsewhere. Bettors have lost faith in Clemson. People are realizing Dabo Swinney may not be a great coach when he doesn’t have superstar talent on offense, and it’s not surprising to see sharps take a dog of this size when the Over/Under is so low. That’s a lot of points for a favorite to lay in a “defensive” game. Not much betting action yet on that Over/Under.
Indiana at No. 4 Penn State (-13, 53.5)
ABC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Another time change to prime time. I opened Penn State -10.5, and it’s been nothing but Nittany Lions money so far. Bettors laid -10.5 so hard that I moved straight to -12. They laid -12 and -12.5. I’m up to -13. Some Indiana money started trickling in as early as + 12.5, but not enough to slow down the Penn State surge. A lot of media hype this week about revenge for Penn State, with talk of how disappointing Indiana has been at the same time. Not much happening on the total. I’m taking some Over bets, but not enough to move off the opener of 53.5.
No. 11 Ohio State (-15, 58.5) at Rutgers
Big Ten Network, 3:30 p.m. ET
Really good two-way action on my opener of Ohio State -15. News of quarterback CJ Stroud’s upgrade to “probable” didn’t move the number. Rutgers has been playing good ball under head coach Greg Schiano. You probably watched that cover last week at Michigan. Ohio State was lucky to push at Minnesota, and missed expectations by a mile vs. Oregon. Nothing happening yet on the total.
USC (-8, 51) at Colorado
Pac 12 Network, 2 p.m. ET
A lot of business on this game even though neither team is ranked. I opened USC -7. I took a big early bet from a player who bought a half point down to USC -6.5. Others (sharp and public) laid USC -7, and -7.5. I’ve moved to -8. Not much yet on low-scoring Colorado (just 20 points combined vs. Texas A&M, Minnesota, and Arizona State). Tells you how skeptical bettors are of Colorado. USC got crushed by Oregon State last week, but is still getting the money here so far. My opening total of 51 has drawn some early Under bets, but not enough to move the line.
Washington at Oregon State (-2.5, 57.5)
Pac-12 Network, 9 p.m. ET
This isn’t a marquee matchup, but I wanted to include it because there’s been a big line move. I opened Washington -2. Sharps came in strong on the home dog, flipping the favorite. They bet Oregon State + 2, + 1, (I skipped pick-em), -1 and -2. I’m at Oregon State -2.5 now, and writing pretty even business. Oregon State’s win at USC impressed money that matters. Washington’s inconsistency a factor here as well. Limited betting on the Over/Under so far.
No. 7 Cincinnati (-1.5, 50.5) at No. 9 Notre Dame
NBC, 2:30 p.m. ET
Here’s another favorite that’s flipped if you go back to my “Games of the Year” lines this summer. Months ago, I opened Notre Dame -2. That got bet up to -2.5, where it closed. This week, I re-opened Cincinnati -2. A lot of interest, with the bulk of bets here at the South Point on Notre Dame. Different shops have different numbers. I’m down to Cincinnati -1.5 based on our Irish-heavy action. My opening total of 50.5 is getting decent two-way play.
No. 3 Oregon (-8, 57.5) at Stanford
ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
Surprisingly, this is one of the heaviest-bet games so far. Both teams have strong allegiances, and the money is split. Not much betting yet on the total. Neither opening line or total has moved, but one is drawing tremendous action while the other is quiet. I don’t think pundits on the East Coast realize how much Vegas betting interest there is in Pac-12 games.
No. 12 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama (-14.5, 79.5)
CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET
This was another of the “Games of the Year” first posted months ago. Back then, I opened Alabama -22. The Tide was getting hit so hard in other GOY attractions that I lifted this line to Alabama -24 to defend. This week, I re-opened Alabama 15. Sharps took the dog. I’m down to 14.5 now. We usually don’t have to go begging for Alabama money (just like Notre Dame), so I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to go back to -15 before kickoff. Right now, really good two-way betting with sharps on Ole Miss + 15, and the public laying -14.5 on the Tide.
The overall perception of Ole Miss is much better now than it was when the GOY lines went up. My O/U opened at a very high 79.5. That may be too high for the public to bet Over. I haven’t moved, but early bets are trending Under.
No. 21 Baylor at No. 9 Oklahoma State (-3.5, 47.5)
ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
Oklahoma State didn’t score any second-half points against either Boise State or Kansas State, but won and covered both games. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that. I opened Okie State -4. Sharps took the dog. I’m at -3.5 now. All the 4s have disappeared across the market. Two-way action on my opening total of 47.5.
No. 8 Arkansas at No. 2 Georgia (-18.5, 48.5)
ESPN, noon ET
Excellent two-way action. My ticket count favors Arkansas. I’ve seen as low as + 18, as high as + 19. We’re right in the middle. I didn’t know what to expect from Arkansas this year with head coach Sam Pittman. The Razorbacks had some flashes of brilliance last year, but the team finished 3-7. Impressive wins this year against Texas and Texas A&M suggest the Hogs are legit. And they’re getting a lot of points at Georgia in a low-totaled game. Over/Under bets are trending Under, but not enough to move my opener of 48.5. (Note the time change to an early kick.)
Tennessee at Missouri (-2.5, 64.5)
SEC Network, noon ET
This is another “non-marquee” game I decided to include because of early betting. You know that 3 is a key number. I opened Missouri -3. One bettor bought the dog up to + 3.5 (I charge -125 vigorish to do that in the colleges, -135 for the NFL). A sharp also bet Tennessee strong at + 3. I’m down to 2.5 now. If you’re new to football betting, you may be thinking, “that’s just a half point, what’s the big deal?” Look, it takes a high volume of money, or some very respected money, for a sports book to move down from 3. Not all points (or half-points) are the same. Tennessee money got my attention.
No. 10 Florida (-8.5, 55.5) at Kentucky
ESPN, 6 p.m. ET
Haven’t moved off my opener of Florida -8.5. Interesting to me because I’m seeing some 7.5’s out there, but sharps aren’t coming in to take this dog + 8.5. Sometimes what isn’t happening tells you more than what is happening. If sharps liked this dog they would have dropped by to say hello. I am getting good two-way action from the public.
No. 6 Oklahoma (-10.5, 52.5) at Kansas State
FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET
I opened Oklahoma -11. There was some early play on the dog. I like the dog myself in this spot. So, I dropped to 10.5. I believe in the Jimmy Vaccaro theory that “our opinion is worth one bet.” We’ll see if sharps or the public step in on the Sooners. OU has been burning money vs. major competition so far. Haven’t moved my opening total of 52.5, where light action has been split.
No. 22 Auburn at LSU (-3.5, 56)
ESPN, 9 p.m. ET
When this was one of our “Games of the Year” months ago, an opener of LSU -2 got bet all the way up to -6! I re-opened at LSU -3.5 this week. We’re doing good two-way business at that price. This one should see a lot of action before its late kickoff Saturday. My opening total of 55 has been bet up to 56.
No. 14 Michigan at Wisconsin (-1.5, 43.5)
FOX, noon ET
Don’t forget that this is an early kick. Talk about changes in perception! When this was one of the “Games of the Year,” my opener of Wisconsin -7 got bet up to -8. This week, I opened Michigan -1. Early bettors took Wisconsin at + 1, pick-em and -1. I am starting to get some Michigan money at my current line of Wolverines + 1.5. I see some 2s out there. Somebody’s betting Wisconsin elsewhere. Good two-way action on my opening Over/Under of 43.5. Old school smash-mouth total.
Arizona State at No. 20 UCLA (-3, 55.5)
FS1, 10:30 p.m. ET
Nevada sportsbooks love these West Coast prime-time games. Casinos are very busy on Saturday nights. Football bettors that won earlier are ready for more action. This will be a heavily bet game. I opened UCLA -3.5. Sharps took the dog. I’m now at 3. We’re getting decent two-way action on that key number. But, I see other stores at 3.5. That tells me this might be a game that hops back and forth between 3 and 3.5 until kickoff. In that mix, sharps will be on ASU + 3.5. My opening total of 55.5 has seen a little play on the Over. Not enough to move the line.
Take a breath, then go out and make some smart bets! I’ll be back with you to run through the full NFL slate including Tampa Bay at New England. College football coverage resumes next week. Thanks again for all the great responses to these market reports.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.