LAS VEGAS – College football bettors have had Thursday, May 30, circled on their calendars for the better part of the past month as the day the Golden Nugget would post the openers for its “Games of the Year.”
I first heard about it from GN’s Tony Miller and his right-hand man, Aaron Kessler at Brent Musburger’s 80th birthday bash back on May 4 (how’s that for some name-dropping?). For those who don’t know, the South Point’s Chris Andrews has posted the first NCAA lines in Vegas the past three years since taking over the book in 2016, but he’s been openly battling health issues and hasn’t been able to devote all the time needed to prepare his power ratings for the top college football teams, so he graciously stepped aside and cede the opening honors to Miller. I’m sure even fewer readers are aware that Miller posted the first NCAA lines in town for nine straight years from 2007 through 2015, so this was a throwback to that era.
Since that night, the word has spread on social media and I’ve heard from many pro (meaning “professional” as opposed to “NFL”) bettors putting off their summer vacations or coming to town for the unveiling. Maybe it was advertised a bit too well as CG Technology actually beat the Nugget to the punch by posting 84 NCAA “Selected Games” on Wednesday.
As a bettor, the more opinions to bet against and the more lines to shop the better. And it’ll still be an event at the Golden Nugget at noon Thursday when it posts its openers. It’ll be covered on VSiN’s “The Edge” show from noon to 3 p.m. PT. Miller said on Wednesday’s show that there will be two betting windows. Limits will be $1,000 per game and bettors can make three bets before moving to the back of the line.
Miller did reveal a few of the lines he was planning to post after debating the lines with Kessler and consultant Bruce Marshall of the Gold Sheet. In the Saturday, Sept. 7, game with LSU visiting Texas, Miller said they settled on LSU as a 1-point road favorite (note: CG Technology opened LSU -1.5). On Saturday, Sept. 21, Miller said Georgia would open as a 9-point home favorite over Notre Dame (CGT went even higher at Georgia -10). On Saturday, Sept. 28, Miller said Ohio State would be -8.5 at Nebraska (CGT opened Ohio State -10 but it was bet down to 8). On Saturday, Oct. 12, Miller said Oklahoma would be a 7-point fave vs. Texas in the Red River Rivalry (CGT went a little lower at Oklahoma -6.5).
Early lines moves at CG Technology on Wednesday included three games with bettors fading Stanford as the Cardinal dropped from -10 to -7 vs. Northwestern on Aug. 31, USC went from pick ‘em to -3 vs. Stanford on Sept. 7 and the Cardinal dropped from -13.5 to -10 vs. UCLA on Oct. 17. Other big moves were on Florida State -1.5 to -4.5 vs. Boise State on Aug. 31, Oklahoma dropping from -16 to -12 vs. UCLA on Sept. 14, Miami (Fla.) dropping from -11 to -7.5 vs. Virginia Tech on Oct. 5 and West Virginia plummeting from -6 to -1.5 vs. Baylor on Oct. 26.
We’ll post the big early moves from the Golden Nugget here on Thursday afternoon. (Kessler went on “The Edge” after the bettors were done with their early wagers and said there were really only two major line moves: Army opened -13 in the annual Army-Navy game on Dec. 14 and money flowed in on Navy, moving it down to Army -9.5, which made sense as CGT went with Army -8 yesterday; and LSU opened -9.5 vs. Auburn in their Oct. 26 game and the dog also took action to steam it down to LSU -6.5. In another notable move on the Utah-Washington game on Nov. 2, Washington opened -8 and Patrick Everson of Covers.com and Joe Fortuna said professional handicapper Bryan Leonard grabbed Utah plus the 8 while Fortuna settled for plus-7 as he said he still expects it to go lower).