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Championship weekend starts with Pac-12 (and an Under?)

December 5, 2019 11:54 PM

The Bears upset the Cowboys 31-24 last night, handing contrarian bettors, wiseguys and sportsbooks a big win over the public. Chicago was the epitome of a sharp play. As we discussed in Thursday's newsletter, more than two-thirds of bets laid the points with Dallas, however the line remained frozen at Cowboys -3 and even dipped to -2.5. This sharp line freeze and reverse line movement was a dead giveaway that pro money had sided with the Bears plus 3. 

Normally when a team is receiving heavily lopsided support, the oddsmakers will move the line further in their favor (think Cowboys -3 to -3.5 or -4). Why? Because they need to entice betting on the underdog so they can limit their liability and balance their action. However, books don't always strive for even money on both sides. They will take a position if they know it's the sharp side. That's what happened in this game. 

Today we have a loaded betting slate featuring the Pac 12 Championship between Oregon and Utah along with 14 college basketball games, 10 NBA games and 5 NHL games. For an updated betting breakdown of Friday's action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Until then, let's discuss where smart money is flowing for tonight's big college football game.

8 p.m. ET: Oregon (10-2, ranked 13th) vs. Utah (11-1, 5th)

The Pac-12 Championship takes place at Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers. It is the only football game of the night, which means it will be extremely heavily bet and flooded with recreational money. 

Two weeks ago, Oregon was ranked 6th in the country and had a shot at the 4-game playoff. Then the Ducks lost to Arizona State 31-28 as 13-point favorites, dashing their championship dreams. Oregon's only other loss came in the season opener, falling to Auburn 27-21 as a 4-point dog.

Utah has won 8 straight, with their only loss of the year coming against USC in late September, falling 30-23 as 4-point favorites. This game has massive implications for Utah. If the Utes can beat Oregon, they're still alive for a shot at the 4-game playoff. 

Both teams are averaging the same amount of points on offense (Oregon 35.83 PPG, Utah 35.58 PPG). Both are stellar on defense, but the edge goes to Utah (11.25 PPG allowed vs 15.75 PPG allowed). 

This line opened with Utah listed as a 6-point favorite. A slight majority of bets are laying the points with Utah, which has pushed the line up to 6.5. Oregon has value as a contrarian conference dog in a super heavily bet game. However, one benefit to Utah: When two ranked teams go head-to-head, the favorite has gone 21-17 ATS (55%) this season.

Utah is 9-3 ATS on the season while the Ducks are 6-6 ATS. Utah played in the Pac-12 Championship game last season, falling to Washington 10-3 as 4-point dogs. Oregon hasn't played in the championship game since 2014, which means Utah has the most recent big-game experience advantage. The last time these two teams played each other was Nov. 10, 2018. Utah won 32-25 and covered as a 5.5-point home favorite. 

Sharps have gotten down hard on the under. It opened at 51 and has plummeted down to 46. Weather is a big reason. The forecast calls for 15 MPH winds and possibly some rain. The under is 98-86 (53%) this season when the wind blows 10 MPH or more. Both teams have been profitable to the under this season (Utah 7-3-2, Oregon 7-5). 

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