Submitted by SportsMasters Consensus on Friday, December 28, 2012 at 9:30 PM
We’ve reached the single biggest day of bowl action outside of New Year’s Day itself. Sharps have been active all week taking positions on sides and totals in the FIVE games that are scheduled for Saturday kickoffs. Let’s go game-by-game through the slate to see what Las Vegas Wise Guys have been betting.
ARMED FORCES BOWL
RICE vs. AIR FORCE
Opening Line: Air Force by 1, total of 61
Peak Line: Air Force by 3
Current Line: Air Force by 2.5, total of 62
Sharps liked Air Force at the opener, and that support continued at a gradual pace until the line made it all the way up to the key number of three. Once that key number was in play, underdog money did come in on Rice. We’ve told you often in the past that it teaks a lot of money to move a game off a three. So, that support for Rice was fairly substantial once it came in.
Basically…sharps are heavy on Air Force at -1 and -2, but heavy on Rice at +3. This is not to say that it’s the same people and everyone’s just shooting at a middle. Those who loved Air Force got the best possible line. Those who preferred Rice waited until the key number was in play then made their move. Perhaps the biggest factor that separates sharps from squares is that sharps almost always get the best line for their preferred team. You need to develop this skill!
The total is up a point from the opener. These are two running teams on offense, which generally signals an Under. But, we have two defenses who aren’t very good at stopping the run. Most sharps have passed this option. Those who bet preferred the Over.
FIGHT HUNGER BOWL
NAVY vs. ARIZONA STATE
Opening Line: Arizona State by 14.5, total of 56
Current Line: Arizona State by 14, total of 53
The strongest dynamic about this game we’ve heard from our sharp sources involves the playing field. This game is played on the San Francisco Giants home field. It’s not a great surface for football, as we’ve seen in past bowl games at this site. That has triggered a three-point move on the Under because poor footing is expected. It’s also put sharps on the big underdog because it’s hard for favorites to express their edges in questionable scoring conditions.
It’s worth noting though that money hasn’t flooded in on Navy (no pun intended). Just enough to move back to a key number. Sharps are skeptical of this option offense with poor footing. You’ve probably seen some late November and early December regular season games involving Army, Navy, or Air Force where poor footing disrupted offensive timing. Most sharps passed the side and bet the Under in early action.
Should the public move the team side line higher before kickoff, sharps would likely fade the move.
WEST VIRGINIA vs. SYRACUSE
Opening Line: West Virginia by 4, total of 73.5
Current Line: West Virginia by 3.5, total of 71.5
Another midday Saturday game…another special feature from a baseball stadium! This time we’re on the home field of the New York Yankees in the Bronx. As was the case in San Francisco, we have a field surface that’s caused problems in the past. You may remember a Rutgers-Army game from last year where huge chunks of sod kept coming up. Sharps have bet the Under here even though West Virginia is famous for playing very high scoring games. There are indicators as we post this that the total will drop even further before kickoff. Sharps are monitoring the weather, and will put more at stake on the Under if weather conditions are going to help them.
On the team side, Syracuse received some sharp support at +4, but not enough to drive the line down to the key number of three. Given the public’s tendency to bet cheap favorites…particularly cheap favorites with great offenses, it’s clear that three wouldn’t last very long anyway. Sharps will stick with Syracuse at anything higher than three, with more passion for the Under. Sharps are hoping squares will move the line past four before kickoff and provide even more value.
OREGON STATE vs. TEXAS
Opening Line: Oregon State by 1, total of 56
Current Line: Oregon State by 3.5, total of 57.5
Sharps liked Oregon State even before news broke Friday that two semi-prominent Texas Longhorns were suspended because of an alleged assault Thursday Night in San Antonio. Sharps new at the outset that Texas historically doesn’t play motivated football when they have to settle for lesser bowls. Then, all of the following inspired even more support:
*The Texas offensive coordinator was hired away by Arkansas State
*Oregon State had great practices according to all sources who attended
*Texas didn’t seem enthusiastic in their build up to the game
*Texas made the wrong kind of headlines at the worst possible time
That’s driven the line to the key number of three, and then through it as we post this. Texas is a fairly talented underdog by bowl standards, and will likely inspire some betting if the line keeps moving. And, Texas is the kind of dog that could attract square action, which is rare in bowls but not unheard of with big name teams. This is a late afternoon start, so there’s plenty of time for the market to move through Saturday.
The total has been bet Over, which is fairly common for indoor games, particularly when both teams have some offensive playmakers.
BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL
TCU vs. MICHIGAN STATE
Opening Line: TCU by 2, total of 41.5
Peak Line: TCU by 3
Current Line: TCU by 2.5, total of 40.5
You can see from the low total that oddsmakers and sharps are expecting a defensive battle. TCU had sharp support at -2, and those who liked the Horned Frogs drove the line temporarily to -3 in some places. But, at the key number, underdog money on the Spartans came in immediately. Some stores never bothered going to the three because they knew they’d get flooded on the defensive dog at that line.
This sets up some interesting possibilities for Saturday betting. If the public decides they want the cheap favorite, that will likely generate enough interest to hit the three. Then, sharp dog lovers will make their presence felt. We may have a tug-of-war between 2.5 and 3 through the day.
And Under move of one point may not strike you as a big one. But, when a total opens low, then goes lower, it’s a firm sign that sharps feel strongly about the Under. That hasn’t always worked out for the Wise Guys in the early bowls…but did Friday in the Russell Athletic Bowl matching Virginia Tech and Rutgers. That doesn’t mean we’re going to see another yawner. But, remember that these defenses are better than those defenses.
Now you know what the sharps have done through the week. What are you going to do at the game day prices? Our VSM legends made their reputations by beating game day lines for their customers. You can take advantage of their expertise over on our “buy picks” page. You can bet some of the biggest releases of the postseason will go on this busy Saturday!
Our NFL report for the week has already been posted. Please check the archives for that update. Our next sharp report will be posted overnight Sunday for Monday’s New Year’s Eve Bowl Grand Slam. We’ve also scheduled a late Monday report to cover sharp action in the annual New Year’s Day bash that’s set for Tuesday. Visit VSM every day for the most important sports betting information in all of cyberspace!