This is the second straight Saturday without any true “blockbusters” involving highly-ranked superpowers going head-to-head, but a matchup like USC/Notre Dame is always a spectacle for avid bettors. Activity at the counter has been brisk all week for a slate of TV games that features top playoff contenders.
Marquee matchups are presented in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules. I’ve also included a couple non-marquee games that have drawn heavy betting interest. As I write this, there has been very little betting on Over/Unders so far. I’ll focus only on point spreads in this report.
Saturday, Oct. 23
Illinois Fighting Illini at No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions (-23, 45.5)
ABC, noon ET
I opened Penn State -24. Sharps took the Illini + 24 and bet some more after I dropped to + 23.5. Wise guys like big dogs in games with low Over/Unders because points are at a premium. I’m at 23 now, where I’ve been getting play on Penn State. The public will keep betting the favorite. I have a feeling this line is going back up. If so, sharps will likely take + 23.5, and would certainly grab more Illinois at + 24.
Northwestern Wildcats at No. 6 Michigan Wolverines (-24, 51)
FOX, noon ET
This one opened Michigan -21. Strong sharp interest on the favorite quickly drove that all the way to -23. Michigan money continued at -23 and -23.5. We finally drew Northwestern interest at + 24. Good two-way action now, but not at the same prices. Michigan is a popular choice at -23.5 or better. Northwestern pulls in some dog lovers at + 24.
No. 16 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-3, 52.5) at Army Black Knights
CBS Sports Network, noon ET
This obviously isn’t a “marquee” matchup. But, believe it or not, it’s currently my biggest bet game of the day! USC/Notre Dame will catch and surpass it soon because of a prime-time kickoff. I opened Wake Forest -3 in this early start. Sharps laid -3 and -3.5. When I went to -4, a competing group of sharps stepped in on Army + 4 and then + 3.5. I’m back where I started. Tons of two-way action from sharp guys that have different opinions. This isn’t a game the public would pay much attention to days in advance.
Wisconsin Badgers (-3.5, 40.5) at No. 25 Purdue Boilermakers
Big Ten Network, 3 p.m. ET
Sharps liked Wisconsin at my opener of -3. I moved to Wiscy -3.5. That stopped the sharps but brought in public money on the underdog. Bettors that have been losing money on Wisconsin all season want to back the team that upset Iowa last week. Good play both ways, with sharps in Wisconsin -3 and the public on Purdue + 3.5.
Western Michigan Broncos (-1.5, 54.5) at Toledo Rockets
CBS Sports Network, 3:30 p.m. ET
An off-the-radar game that’s been drawing a lot of interest. I opened Western Michigan -3. Sharps took Toledo + 3 and + 2.5. I skipped down to 1.5. where Western Michigan money started to show. Don’t forget that Western Michigan won at Pittsburgh. Toledo lost a nail biter at Notre Dame. Could be a great one. In fact, I had this as part of my “games of the year” package this past offseason because I thought it would be very important in the MAC. Toledo was the favorite then. Opened and closed at -3.5 with play on both sides. Market has flipped favorites since.
Clemson Tigers at No. 23 Pittsburgh Panthers (-3.5, 48)
ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET
Stores posting early odds went up with Pittsburgh minus anywhere from 1-3 points. Sharps pounded Clemson. After seeing that, I opened Pittsburgh -3.5. We’ve been getting great two-way action at that price. This one’s been heavily bet so far, which should continue until kickoff. I’m not seeing any divide between sharps and the public at 3.5. Some bettors think a much improved Pittsburgh is going to make a statement. Others believe Clemson has too much raw talent to be this size underdog. All in all, a well-bet game at a good number. I wish I had known Pitt was going to be this good when I put up my “games of the year.” I probably would have had Clemson around -17 this past summer. Amazing how far Clemson has fallen from preseason expectations.
BYU Cougars (-4, 56) at Washington State Cougars
FS1, 3:30 p.m. ET
You probably know that Washington State fired head coach Nick Rolovich and a few assistants because they refused to take a covid vaccine. That played a big part in the early move off my opener of BYU -2. Sharps were confident that such turmoil would cause big troubles for Wazzu. They laid BYU -2, -2.5, -3, 3.5 and -4. I finally received some sharp Washington State play at + 4.5. I’m back down to four.
No. 10 Oregon Ducks at UCLA Bruins (-1.5, 60)
ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
Very interesting. My “games of the year” line was Oregon -3. Customers were laying that price, but not enough to raise the number before the package closed. Since then, Oregon won on the road at Ohio State…UCLA lost a home game to Fresno State…but UCLA is now the favorite! Oregon hasn’t covered a game (0-4 ATS) since the win in Columbus. I opened UCLA -1.5. Sharps laid that, so I went to -2. There was buyback on the two, so I returned to 1.5. I saw the market move further toward Oregon Thursday afternoon. Hard to know where this will end up.
No. 8 Oklahoma State Cowboys at Iowa State Cyclones (-7, 47)
FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET
This was also one of my “games of the year.” Months ago, Iowa State opened -10. Sharps took + 10 pretty aggressively. I dropped to 8.5 (I move quickly in the offseason because it’s mostly us against the sharps). I closed at 8.5 after a short time at eight. I re-opened this week at Iowa State -7. Really good two-way action at that price. It’s mostly a blanket seven across the market. I think sharps would fade a move off the key number in either direction. Whenever you see a “solid seven” for this long, getting that seven with your bet (laying -6.5 or taking + 7.5) is usually the percentage play. Market may just stick at seven until kickoff.
LSU Tigers at No. 12 Mississippi Rebels (-9.5, 76)
CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET
Perceptions of LSU have changed so much since the offseason. In my “games of the year” package, I opened this matchup at pick-em. Sharps bet LSU up to -2. This week I re-opened Ole Miss -10! Sharps took the Tigers, dropping me down to 9.5. LSU upset Florida last week, before dealing with some off-the-field distractions involving its head coach. Ole Miss survived a wild night at Tennessee.
Tennessee Volunteers at No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (-25, 67)
ESPN, 7 p.m. ET
I opened Alabama -27.5. We usually have to protect against heavy public interest in the Tide. A sharp made a big bet on Tennessee. I dropped all the way to 26 out of respect. Sharps then took + 26 too. I’m at 25 right now. The public will be betting Alabama from now until kickoff. I have a feeling I’ll be moving to -25.5 (or higher) soon. Sharps like Tennessee at + 26 or better.
No. 24 UTSA Roadrunners (-6.5, 59.5) at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
7 p.m. ET
You never know when a game is going to entice bettors. Even though this one isn’t even televised by a major cable network, it’s one of our top 10 action games entering the weekend. I opened UTSA -6.5. One group of sharps laid that. Another bought in on Louisiana Tech at + 7. A lot of play at those prices. To the degree the public is involved, it’s on the ranked favorite.
No. 18 NC State Wolfpack (-3.5, 51.5) at Miami (FL) Hurricanes
ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. ET
I opened NC State -3. I try not to move too quickly off this key number. NC State interest dominated most of the week. I finally moved to Wolfpack -3.5. Thursday morning when sharp interest in the favorite grew more intense. We’ll see if Miami money starts to show up. This will either be a game that hops back and forth between 3 and 3.5, or one that rises further because public bettors who follow sharps aren’t afraid of Miami. Hard to know in advance how impressed the public was with Miami’s 45-42 loss at North Carolina last week.
Utah Utes (-3, 56) at Oregon State Beavers
Pac 12 Network, 7:30 p.m. ET
No movement off my opener of Utah -3. There is a lot of action on the favorite, though. You know I’m hesitant to move off the three if it can be avoided. The market is trending up. I’ll probably have to move to Utah -3.5 eventually. Not until I take a few more bets. Sharps are very likely to take Oregon State + 3.5 if it becomes available. That’s usually what happens in cases like this, when a three has been “widely available” for this long. Sharps want the hook if they can get it. They’ll wait all the way to kickoff if they have to.
No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes (-21, 60.5) at Indiana Hoosiers
ABC, 7:30 p.m. ET
Also part of my “games of the year” package several months ago. Indiana was supposed to be a real up-and-comer this season. I opened Ohio State -12. Never moved it before closing. This week, I reopened Ohio State -19. Sharps laid -19. I moved straight to -20 (skipping 19.5). Sharps laid that. So, I went straight to -21. Even at three touchdowns, I’m still getting interest on the Buckeyes. Though, that’s from the public rather than sharps re-investing. I may have to go to 21.5 to draw Indiana money. Ticket count is about 8/1 for Ohio State right now.
USC Trojans at No. 13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-7, 57.5)
NBC, 7:30 p.m. ET
This is the big one, though only one team is ranked. Great historical rivalry. Both programs have extensive betting constituencies here in Las Vegas. This will be the most heavily bet game of the week. There was a lot of interest way back during my “games of the year” promotion. My opener of Notre Dame -1 was bet up to -2 and then to -3 before closing. This week I re-opened Notre Dame -6.5. sharps bet it up to seven. I did get a lot of sharp pay on the Trojans + 7. Sportsbooks may hop between 6.5 and 7 until kickoff, depending on how their particular clientele are playing the game. Weather should be good. I’m drawing Over interest at my opening total of 57.5. Not enough yet to move the line. I am seeing some 58’s out there.
I hope you have a great Saturday. I’ll be back with you tomorrow to cover the full NFL slate. And, be on the lookout for a special World Series market report before the Fall Classic begins Tuesday night. Thanks again for all the enthusiastic comments and tweets about these articles. I’m truly touched by the response.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.