Today the weekend kicks off with a loaded betting menu featuring five College Football openers, seven NFL preseason games and 15 MLB games. For extensive Saturday betting analysis be sure to join Patrick Meagher, Michael Lombardi and myself LIVE this morning on The Lombardi Line from 10 a.m. ET to 12-noon. We'll be dissecting all the big matchups and updating the top lines moves across the marketplace. We'll also be joined by Scott Savin, CEO of Magic City Casino in Miami, Carl Johnson of the Beau Rivage in Louisiana and Thomas Gable of the Borgata in Atlantic City.
In the meantime, let's discuss where the money is flowing for several college football opening day matchups today...
1 p.m. ET: Nebraska at Illinois
This Big Ten showdown is the first game of the 2021 College Football season. Nebraska finished 3-5 last season. Their win total this season is 6.5 with the under juiced to -140, signaling some under liability. Illinois also struggled last season, going 2-6. The Illini's win total is 3.5 with the over juiced to -140, indicating some liability on a four-win campaign or better. Bret Bielema makes his debut at Illinois after taking over for Lovie Smith, while Scott Frost returns for his fourth season at Nebraska. Frost is on the hot seat after going just 12-20 at Nebraska. The program is also under a dark cloud due to possible NCAA violations. This line opened with Nebraska listed as 8-point road favorites. Some books were even closer to 9. Respected money appears to be backing Illinois at home as we've seen this line fall from Nebraska -8 to -7. Pros really liked the Illini at + 7.5 or better. At BetMGM, Illinois is receiving 56% of the bets but 61% of the money, signaling bigger wagers in their favor. Illinois has value as a home conference dog with a line move in their favor. Illinois also returns more than 80% of its starters on both offense and defense. We've seen some pro money hit this under, forcing oddsmakers to drop the total from 55 to 54. The forecast calls for mid 80s with 10 MPH winds. When the wind blows 10 MPH or more, the under is roughly 55% over the past decade. Wind benefits unders as it leads to missed kicks, errant throws and more running the ball and chewing up the clock.
3:30 p.m. ET: Hawaii at UCLA
Hawaii went 5-4 last season, capped off with a 28-14 win over Houston in the New Mexico Bowl. Their win total this year is 6 with the over juiced to -145. Meanwhile, UCLA went 3-4 last season, starting off 3-2 but losing their final two games. Their win total is 7 this season with even -110 juice on both sides. This line opened with UCLA listed as a 17-point home favorite. Both Pros and Joes are laying the points with the home favorite, which has driven the Bruins from -17 to -17.5. Some books reached -18 and took in some buyback on Hawaii at the inflated number. UCLA returns 20 starters from last season while Hawaii returns 18. Pros have also hit the under. It opened at a high 69.5 and has ticked down to 67.5. At BetMGM, the under is receiving 52% of bets but nearly 60% of the money, signaling a sharp "low bets, higher dollars" discrepancy.
9:30 p.m. ET: UTEP at New Mexico State
This late night matchup features two bottom feeders with low 2021 win totals. UTEP went 3-5 last season, starting off hot with a 3-1 record before losing four straight to end the year. Their win total is 3 this season, with both sides juiced to -110. Meanwhile, New Mexico State played just two games last season due to COVID, going 1-1 overall. Their win total is just 1.5 this season, with the over juiced to -125. This line opened with UTEP listed as an 8-point road favorite. Sharps are fading lowly New Mexico State, steaming UTEP up from -8 to -10. At BetMGM, UTEP is receiving 62% of bets but a whopping 82% of the money, evidence of big money wagers in their favor. Sharp money has also hammered this over, driving the total up from 56.5 to 59. The forecast calls for high 80s with little to no wind. Historically, hot temperatures have benefited overs as the defense is gassed and the offense takes over. When the temperature is 85 or more, the over is roughly 54% the past decade.