Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, December 5, 2014 at 1:00 PM
We have FIVE conference championships on the Saturday college football schedule. I’ve added in the regular board game between Kansas State and Baylor because it looms so large in the Big 12 race (that league doesn’t have a championship game) and the Final Four discussion as the Bears are trying to leapfrog TCU or Florida State to get into the brackets.
I always present the games in rotation order…so that puts K-State/Baylor first on the list…followed by all the championship action. Here’s how sharps (professional wagerers) have been betting so far this week.
KANSAS STATE AT BAYLOR (7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN): An opener of Baylor -9 has been bet down to Baylor -8. Quarterback Bryce Petty had to leave last week’s game with Texas Tech with a mild concussion. He practiced Thursday, but still hadn’t been cleared for live game action as of publication time. The expectation in Vegas is that he’ll play. But, nobody who’s interested in Baylor is ready to bet that just yet. They’d hate to lay more than a TD then find out Petty wasn’t cleared. Kansas State money got in early. If Petty is cleared, and the public hits Baylor all day Saturday…then sharps would come back in on Kansas State at +9 or better. The opening total of 67 has come down to either 66 or 66.5. It might rise right back up to 67 if Petty is cleared though. In fact, the quants may have graded it even higher but aren’t betting until they have all the information they need.
LOUISIANA TECH at MARSHALL in the CUSA CHAMPIONSHIP
(noon ET on ESPN2)
An opener of Marshall -12 has been bet down to Marshall -11. Note that this game is being played on Marshall’s home field. The divisional winner in CUSA with the best league record gets to host the game. Marshall’s dream of an undefeated season ended last week at the hands of Western Kentucky. And, they’ve been fading in terms of high expectations in recent action. Louisiana Tech looked great against Rice last week, and got the early nod from sharps. Money stopped at +11. If the public bets the favorite (less likely in a low profile game that kicks off so early in the day), sharps would fade any square action. Not much interest in the total.
ALABAMA vs. MISSOURI in the SEC CHAMPIONSHIP
(4:00 p.m. ET on CBS from Atlanta)
Early money came in on Alabama, but only enough to move the opener from -14 to -14.5. Sharps preferring the favorite knew they had to bet early in advance of anticipated public action on ‘Bama. This line wasn’t every going to drop below two touchdowns. Missouri money is waiting to see what it can get. The fact that we didn’t move above -14.5 suggests that the Wise Guys would come in fairly hard at +15. We may see a tug-of-war on game day between Wise Guys and the public. Sharps fading ‘Bama had done well this year, though not last week against Auburn. The Over/Under has dropped from 50 to 48.5 because of Missouri’s shaky offense. Some sharps expecting a one-sided game showed their support for ‘Bama’s defense by playing the Under rather than laying the points.
FLORIDA STATE vs. GEORGIA TECH in the ACC CHAMPIONSHIP
(8:00 p.m. ET on ABC from Charlotte)
This game has been hopping all week between Florida State -3.5 and Georgia Tech +4. The four isn’t a key number, so it’s not really a tug-of-war. But, it’s fair to say that hardly anyone’s betting FSU at -4, while the Seminoles get some support at -3.5. Hard to know what the public will do here because they almost always bet cheap favorites in championship games, but anyone betting FSU this season has taken a bath. It is a prime time game, giving squares all day to bet. We’ll likely see sharps and squares on opposite sides through the afternoon. The opening total of 60 has been bet up to 61.
WISCONSIN vs. OHIO STATE in the BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP
(8:15 p.m. ET on FOX from Indianapolis)
There were a lot of very soft offshore openers in this one, as various sportsbooks tried to gauge what the number “should” be after the injury to Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett. Vegas shops generally opened at Wisconsin -4 or -4.5. The boards are still showing one of those two numbers at stores right now. Tough to anticipate the sharps here because the new OSU quarterback is such an unknown quantity…and because Wisconsin has been inconsistent in big games. The Badgers just failed to play to expectations against Iowa and Minnesota. If the public lines up on one side or the other before kickoff, I would expect sharps to fade any line moves for value. The opening total has come down from 54 to 52.5 on the assumption that the new QB will trouble playing a mistake-free game.
FRESNO STATE at BOISE STATE IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP
(10:00 p.m. ET on CBS)
The most dramatic move of the week came in this game…as an already high opener for Boise State was bet up from 19.5 to 22. Clearly some of the math guys had a big grading to the hosts (the MWC also plays at a home site rather than a neutral field). This is interesting because the two teams played on this field a month ago. Boise State was only -17.5 in that game…and only won 37-27. The quants must be seeing something important from Boise’s last two games…blowout wins over Wyoming and Utah State by scores of 63-14 and 50-19. The Over/Under has been bet up from 68 to 69.
My selections for Championship Saturday will be available for purchase here at the website with your credit card in the hours leading up to first kickoff. If you have any questions about my personal service, call the VSM office Friday afternoon or Saturday morning at 1-888-777-4155.
We still have the weekly NFL report to go. That will be up by 4 p.m. ET here in the VSM blog, and will cover all the pro football games for Sunday and Monday.
Thanks for reading this special report on the Championship games. See you again in a few hours.
Be sure to follow:
Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri
Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters