December 20, 2018 07:40 PM

Every year, the unique longevity of the college football bowl schedule creates opportunities for bettors to “shoot middles” at expanses created by point-spread adjustments.

You might be able to bet a bowl favorite at -2 in early December, then come back weeks later and bet the underdog in the same game at plus 4. With equal bet sizes, that’s a low-risk/high-reward proposition. If the game lands on three, you win BOTH. Otherwise, you just lose the extra 10% vigorish on the lost bet.

Line adjustments can be huge with Over/Unders. Friday afternoon’s Bahamas Bowl featuring Toledo and Florida International (ESPN, 12:30 p.m. ET) opened at 67. It was down to 59 midweek, and might drop even further by kickoff. Imagine having Under 67 and Over 59 in that game, knowing there’s a big payoff waiting if the game lands 60-66.

With equal bet sizes, a pure middle pays 20/1. As an example, assume you’re laying \$110 to win \$100 both ways. You can’t possibly lose both bets, because you have all possible outcomes covered. There’s no conceivable final result that would make you go 0-2. It’s either 1-1 (minus \$10 because of the vig), or 2-0 (plus \$200).

Also worth remembering that you can hit a “side” of the range on whole numbers. In that example where you bet “favorite -2” and “underdog plus 4,” if the final margin lands on two…then you push the favorite bet and win the dog (plus 100). If the final margin lands on four…then you win the favorite bet (plus 100) and push the dog. That’s a 10/1 payoff. (This obviously is NOT in play if the range was -2.5 and plus 4.5, or anything with half-points…as scoreboard margins can’t land on half a point.)

As great as those payouts sound, novice bettors get a bit too excited dreaming about the possibilities. One of the ironies of the sharp/square divide is that sharps (pro bettors) don’t “try” to hit middles, but occasionally do anyway…while squares will often throw away a positive expectation in hopes a longshot will come through.

Sharps look to make smart bets. A bet on a favorite has to make sense on its own. A bet on an underdog has to make sense on its own. Then, if the teams happen to play to the middle of the market range, jackpot! A sharp that had our earlier favorite at -2 wouldn’t automatically take the dog at plus 4 just because a potential middle is in play. Only if plus 4 offered actual value on its own.

In Friday afternoon’s second game featuring Western Michigan and BYU in Boise (ESPN, 4 p.m. ET), favored BYU opened at -11. Late week lines had settled on -12.5, with the chance to see -13. Well positioned money on BYU -11 wouldn’t give away its edge to shoot a middle on an uncommon final margin like 12.

If you placed earlier bowl bets in advance of big moves, evaluate the true quality of a bet on the other side rather than just firing at a middle.

back to news

FREE Email Sign-Up

View All
• Five Week 13 NFL games sharps have already bet

NFL underdogs continued to grind out a profit in Week 12, going 8-7 ATS. Dogs are now 101-77 ATS (57 percent) on the season. A \$100 bettor taking every...
• Week 13 NFL Betting Trends

After last week’s interruption to our normal programming with three Thursday games, life gets back to normal in the NFL. Four teams are on a bye,...
• Best survivor picks for NFL Week 13

Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” For those who are still alive...
• Youmans: Four conference championship CFB bets I like

After a wild party, there’s usually a hangover the next day. Jim Harbaugh is in his seventh year as Michigan coach, and he waited a long time to...
• Kramer: A bettor's guide to college football Week 14

Amid the madness and the losses and the chaos of a beautiful Saturday in college football emerged one inescapable reality. Perhaps we’re right...
• Best bets for Alabama-Georgia, Championship weekend

It's a huge weekend of college football ahead, with conference championship games galore. What's the best bet in Georgia-Alabama or Michigan-Iowa?...
• Jeff Siegel's Best Bets for Saturday (12-4-21)

Aqueduct 8th race – Post Time: 3:14 ET 7 – Zandon (5/2) Loved the way he graduated at first asking despite a less than ideal trip in...
• Tuley's Thoroughbred Takes for races on Saturday (12/4)

Football is the focus of our Saturdays at this time of year, but there’s always time to turn into the horse races and look for value at tracks...
• A.I. Pick of the Week (12/4)

We’ve been tinkering with the Artificial Intelligence programs at 1/ST BET, which gives us more than 50 data points (such as speed, pace, class,...
• Tuley's Takes Today: Friday recaps, updated weekend football picks (12/4)

Friday night served as a nice appetizer for the great sports betting menu we have this weekend. We were happy to see all the dogs barking in the NBA,...
• Saturday CFB Sharp Report

Today the weekend kicks off with 16 College Football Conference Championship games, plus 7 NBA games, 10 NHL games, and a full College Basketball slate....
• Peterson: Best bet for USC vs Washington State

It will be difficult for Washington State to match or exceed the defensive effort that held Arizona State to 29 points earlier this week, but the...

Free Trial

Make a risk-free bet on VSiN!

VSiN+ FREE TRIAL

• Afternoon subscriber-only email with highlights and best bets from the day's programs
• Point Spread Weekly, VSiN's digital magazine on sports betting
• 24-7 Live video stream of VSiN programs plus replays
• Any special sport-specified betting guides we do
• All exclusive subscriber-only stories and data on VSiN.com
Close