Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Monday, December 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM
We still have five bowl games left before Christmas. Let’s see how sharps have been betting the FIVE college football matchups that will take us up to Christmas Day…
MIAMI BEACH BOWL
BYU vs. MEMPHIS (2 p.m. ET Monday on ESPN)
An opener of pick-em has been bet up to Memphis -2. The Tigers received a lot of respect from the Wise Guys all season, particularly during an early and midseason stretch where they were money almost every time out. The money did stop at two though. It’s probably not going past that between now and a daytime kick-off. BYU money would definitely come in if the public drove the line all the way up to three. But, Memphis isn’t a public team, and squares usually aren’t very involved in afternoon bowl games. The Over/Under opened at 57.5, and has been bet down to 56 or 55.5. Quants thought the opener overshot the mark a bit. Weather should be sunny but a bit breezy.
BOCA RATON BOWL
NORTHERN ILLINOIS vs. MARSHALL (6 p.m. ET Tuesday on ESPN)
Most interest here was on the Over/Under, as the opening total of 64.5 was bet up to 67. Quants made the projected shootout 66 or 67. When weather wasn’t likely to be a factor, the new number stood pat. Slight interest on double digit underdog Northern Illinois at the opener of +10.5 The game came down to the key number of 10 where it’s been solid ever since. Sharps would fade any public move off the 10 if one occurs before kickoff. That’s mostly likely to be squares betting the big favorite in a later afternoon TV game. So, either the game sticks at 10, or we see a tug-of-war between Marshall -10 and Northern Illinois +10.5.
NAVY vs. SAN DIEGO STATE (9:30 p.m. ET Tuesday on ESPN)
This game is being played on San Diego State’s home field. The game opened at SDSU -3, which is the standard value for home field advantage in college football. Oddsmakers were suggesting the teams were virtually even. Sharps bet Navy on the key number enough to force the line down to Navy +2.5. It’s telling that there wasn’t much buyback on the “home” team here. A case where a half point move suggests very strong sentiment on an underdog. Hard to say whether or not the public will get involved. It is a prime time game on ESPN…but these aren’t teams that squares usually line up on. Those who did with Navy against Army lost the last time out. No interest on the total yet. Weather isn’t expected to be a factor.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN vs. WESTERN KENTUCKY (noon ET Wednesday on ESPN)
Strong move through the key number here as Western Kentucky -2.5 has been bet past the key number of three all the way to -3.5. That’s a monster move even though it’s only one point because the most common number in football was involved. I’ve told you in the past it takes a lot of money to move a game off a three (though less in college bowls than in the NFL). You can imagine how much it takes to move through the three. The opening total of 65 has been bet up to 67. So, the Wise Guys are expecting a high scoring shootout in the Bahamas with Western Kentucky getting the best of it at their preferred pace. If the line moves any more between now and kickoff, it’s likely to be in those directions because the public likes small favorites and Overs in bowls. They’re more likely to influence a Wednesday game because so many people will be off work that day. It might be at least +4 and 69 that would get sharps involved on the underdog and the Under.
FRESNO STATE vs. RICE (8 p.m. ET Wednesday on ESPN)
We have a flipped favorite here. Rice opened at +1.5, but is now laying -2 in many spots…with some indicators that the line is going to keep rising. Some stores are testing Rice -2.5 as we publish this report. That suggests we may see three by kickoff once squares start betting the Christmas Eve game. I do believe some Fresno State money would come in if we see a three. No interest in the total yet. There is a chance for rain. Many sharps will wait until just before kickoff to bet the Over if that’s their preference. Those preferring the Under will step in if forecasts for rain become more confident.
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I’ll be back with you later in the week for more bowl coverage. Friday morning, we’ll cover all EIGHT games set for Friday and Saturday. Then, at the usual time Friday afternoon, we’ll run the full weekend NFL numbers.
Thanks very much for reading today and all through the season. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! I’ll see you the day after for more sharp reports.
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