All of the excitement about the bowl matchups and the opening lines has died down. We’re in a bit of a holding pattern now. Stats guys picked off the early numbers that didn’t jive with their metrics and models. Speculative money came in against Nevada and Pitt with the assumptions that Carson Strong and Kenny Pickett won’t play for their respective teams. The Strong move happened early. The Pickett move was a recent development when it was announced that OC Mark Whipple was stepping down to join Nebraska.
More opt-outs are coming. Quarterbacks are the ones that really move the line, but you’d certainly want to take stock of wide receivers, defensive backs, linemen and other positions of note. Some handicappers will take these decisions to mean that the team isn’t fully invested in the bowl game. Others will look at it for what it is – a player wanting to go to the NFL and get paid.
The later the bowl game, the more important it will be for the players. Also, you want to consider what a team’s expectations were relative to where they ended up. For example, Clemson didn’t expect to be playing in the Cheez-It Bowl. That could dictate what some players decide to do, especially those with high draft projections or those that were there to play for Brent Venables (took Oklahoma job) or Tony Elliott (maybe taking Duke job?).
One team to keep a close eye on is Ohio State. We haven’t seen a ton of speculative money against the Buckeyes, but it would not shock me in the least if Garrett Wilson and/or Chris Olave skip the Rose Bowl.
The odds board will light up periodically as totals or sides move a little bit, but the big, early moves are over for now. Anything else that moves will be as a result of news, like a flu/COVID outbreak or players bypassing the bowl game. Game week will be when things really fire up again, as weather forecasts come into view and betting limits are increased.
Instead, bettors will focus on the bevy of betting options available across NFL, CBB, NBA, NHL, soccer, etc., while still keeping an eye on the news cycle. We still have eight days until the first bowl game and more than 20 days until some of them. There will be plenty of time to bet the bowls.