Andrews: Inside the betting action for bowl games through Dec. 30

December 27, 2021 06:35 PM

Time for our next batch of bowl games. Today’s market report will cover matchups scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. So far from this group, only the Fenway Bowl featuring Virginia and SMU has been cancelled because of covid. Hopefully the schedule will remain intact despite the recent covid surge.

Games are presented in kickoff order. Let’s get to work…

Tuesday, Dec. 28

Birmingham Bowl

Houston vs. Auburn (-2, 51.5)

ESPN, noon ET

Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has transferred to Oregon, but the Tigers are still short favorites here. I opened Auburn -3.5 and Sharps took the hook with Houston, and also kept betting + 3. I dropped to + 2.5, but took a big bet from a client who “bought” up to + 3. I’m now at Houston + 2. Sharps were also betting Houston on the moneyline during those moves. I took bets on the Cougars at + 140, + 135 and + 120. My current moneyline is Auburn -130/Houston + 110. I’m finally getting some Auburn play at my current numbers. I usually don’t mention teasers in the colleges. Scoring is so volatile that you shouldn’t bet them! But, I have taken some 6-point teaser bets that include Houston as a leg. The public almost exclusively bets favorites in teasers. So, you can assume that bets moving Houston from + 2 up to + 8 are at least somewhat informed. My opening total of 52.5 was bet down to 51.5. I went straight there rather than stopping at 52. 

First Responder Bowl (in Dallas)

Louisville (-1, 55) vs. Air Force 

ESPN, 3:15 p.m. ET

I opened Louisville -1.5 and some sharp action dropped the line to -1. I’ve been writing decent two-way action at that price. I still see some 1.5’s out there. That could mean I’ll be back up to 1.5 by kickoff. We’ve gone up and down the ladder on the total. My opener of 54.5 was bet up to 55, then 55.5 and 56. Under money brought me back down to 55.5 and 55. Good two-way action, but at those different prices. 

Liberty Bowl (in Memphis)

Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State (-10, 58.5)

ESPN, 6:45 p.m. ET

Sharps liked Mississippi State at my opener of -8, then again at -8.5, -9 and -9.5, so I’m now at the key number of 10. That brought some buyback on Texas Tech as a dog. Not enough to start moving back down, though. Wiseguys seem to think Mike Leach will have his current team fired up to beat his former employer. He’s still fighting Tech in court regarding issues connected to his 2009 firing. My opening total of 60 was bet down to 59.5 then 58.5 (I skipped 58). Finally starting to get some Over play at 58.5. 

Holiday Bowl (in San Diego)

NC State (-1.5, 60) vs. UCLA 

FOX, 8 p.m. ET

This will be a heavily bet game by kickoff. A major network telecast of a competitive battle involving a team that generates a lot of local betting interest. I’ve told you in the past that Las Vegas is basically a suburb of Los Angeles when it comes to fans betting on their team. Early money has been on NC State, though. My opener of pick-em was bet up to NC State -1, then -1.5. Sharps like the Wolfpack to win the game. I do expect more Bruins money to show by late Tuesday afternoon. I’ve been getting decent two-way play on my opening total of 60. 

Guaranteed Rate Bowl (in Phoenix)

West Virginia vs. Minnesota (-4.5, 44.5)

ESPN, 10:15 p.m. ET

Late start for those of you on the East Coast, but primetime here in Las Vegas. My opening line of Minnesota -5 was bet down to 4.5. I’ve been writing good two-way play at 4.5, but it’s been shaded enough to Minnesota that I might be back to 5 by kickoff. I won’t move until I take more bets on the Gophers. Very little play either way thus far on my opening total of 44.5. 

Wednesday, Dec. 29

Pinstripe Bowl (in the Bronx)

Maryland (-3.5, 55) vs. Virginia Tech

ESPN, 2:15 p.m. ET

This becomes the first game of a busy Wednesday because the Fenway Bowl matching Virginia and SMU was cancelled due to covid. I opened Virginia Tech -2.5. Many Tech players have either opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft or entered the transfer portal. I moved my line quickly as headlines and sharp money warranted. I went from 2.5 down to 1.5 and pick-em. Then flipped favorites to Maryland -1.5, -3 and now -3.5. Very little buyback on the Hokies yet. We’ll sure be rooting for them based on my one-sided ticket count. I also took some moneyline bets on Maryland + 120. I’m currently at Maryland -165/Virginia Tech + 145. My opening total of 53 was first bet up to 53.5. Over money kept coming in so strong I jumped straight to 55. Keep an eye on the weather forecast. There’s a good chance of rain Wednesday in the Bronx and that’s a baseball field where traction could be an issue. 

Cheez-It Bowl (in Orlando)

Iowa State vs. Clemson (-1, 44.5)

ESPN, 5:45 p.m. ET

Both teams were dreaming of bigger bowls before the season started. Clemson is always on the short list of National Championship hopefuls. Iowa State wasn’t too many spots behind them on my summer futures board. We’ve been all over the place so far in this great matchup. I opened Clemson -1.5. Sharps took that hook and also bet Iowa State + 1 and at pick-em. I flipped favorites to the Cyclones -1. That’s when Clemson money started coming in. Tigers were bet at + 1 and pick-em. I’m back to Clemson -1. A lot of movement for a game that’s now just a half-point from where it started. My opening total of 45.5 was bet down to 45 and 44.5. I’ve only taken a few small bets at the new price. 

Alamo Bowl (in San Antonio)

Oregon vs. Oklahoma (-7, 60.5)

ESPN, 9:15 p.m. ET

Reports started spreading Monday morning (while I was part of “Guessing the Lines” with guest-host Jeff Parles on Gill Alexander’s A Numbers Game on VSIN) that Oregon might be without as many as 30 players for this game. My staff moved with the market from OU -4 to -7 on those reports. Earlier, my opener of OU -3.5 had been bet up to -5, but back down to -4. We’ll be watching the market and sharp betting very closely going forward. My opening total of 61.5 was bet down to 61 and 60.5. 


Thursday, Dec. 30

Duke’s Mayo Bowl (in Charlotte)

South Carolina vs. North Carolina (-9, 58)

ESPN, 11:30 a.m. ET

A border battle over mayonnaise. First sharp bet at my opener of North Carolina -7.5 was on the underdog. I dropped to UNC -7. Chalk was bet hard after that, so I went straight to -8. Dog lovers bought some of SC + 8. When I dropped to 7.5, more UNC money took me to -8.5 and -9. Some sharps expect a blowout. Others respect the SEC so much they’ll look at any dog from that conference. Even disappointing Missouri covered getting points last week vs. Army. Not much play on the total. I’m down from 58.5 to 58. 

Music City Bowl (in Nashville)

Purdue vs. Tennessee (-5.5, 63.5)

ESPN, 3 p.m. ET

Sharps are betting this game like it’s being played in Knoxville rather than Nashville. My opening line of Tennessee -2.5 was bet up to -3, -4, -4.5 and now -5.5. No buy back yet on Purdue. If money keeps coming in on the Vols, I’ll take it to -6. Might have to get that high to generate Purdue interest. I also took a big moneyline bet on Tennessee -145. I’m now at Tennessee -200/Purdue + 175. My opening total of 61.5 was bet up to 62.5, 63 and 64. Under money at 64 brought me back down to 63.5 Good two-way play, but at those different numbers. 

Peach Bowl (in Atlanta)

Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State (-2.5, 56)

ESPN, 7 p.m. ET

I opened Pittsburgh -4 and sharps bet Sparty at + 4 and + 3.5. Then it was announced that star Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett would opt out to prepare for the NFL Draft. I went straight to pick-em. Sharps bet Michigan State at pick-em, -1 and -1.5. I’m now at -2.5 and starting to get play back on Pitt. Because I’m taking some Panthers bets at + 2.5, I don’t expect going to three. We’ll see what late-week betting looks like. Amidst the Pickett news, my opening total of 62.5 dropped to 59, 57, and 56. I’m starting to get two-way play at 56. 

Las Vegas Bowl

Arizona State vs. Wisconsin (-6, 41)

ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET

After I opened Wisconsin -7, rumors were circulating through Vegas that the Badgers might have some players miss the game. The market dropped to either -6 or -5.5. I posted Wiscy -6 here at the South Point, which is still our current line. Decent two-way play and potentially a very big handle if there aren’t any major headlines between now and kickoff. Wisconsin travelled well on past visits to UNLV. Fans also supported their team at local sportsbooks. Fans from Arizona State and the whole Pac 12 love their forays to Vegas. Primetime game locally. My opening total of 43.5 dropped to 42.5 and 41 due to sharp action and rumors. I see some 42’s out there, which may signal an eventual rise at the South Point. 

Let’s hope for good news on the covid front. Great potential for entertaining football in those matchups. Back with you Thursday afternoon to look at Friday’s games…including the national playoff showdowns featuring Alabama vs. Cincinnati and Georgia vs. Michigan…and Saturday’s annual New Year’s Bowl Bash.

New Year’s week in Las Vegas. I hope all of you around the country get to enjoy that experience at least once in your lives. See you next time.

Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.

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