Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, December 26, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Hope everyone had a great Christmas! We have a very busy bowl schedule Friday (3 games) and Saturday (5 games). Let’s jump right in. Games are presented in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes in your schedule.
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
ILLINOIS vs. LOUISIANA TECH (1 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN)
Support here for both Louisiana Tech and the Under. The favorite from Conference USA opened at -5, and was bet up to -6. Some stores have tested -6.5. This isn’t a game that’s likely to be highly bet by the public because it starts early in the day in Las Vegas (10 a.m. sportsbook time) the day after Christmas, and because these aren’t high profile teams. There might be some Chicago based money that makes its way into the markets by kickoff. The most likely scenario is that the team side number stays where it is, or rises up to the key number of seven where underdog money would start to surface. The total has dropped a whopping five points from an opener of 62 down to 57. Some of that is quant related, and some based on a weather forecast calling for gusty winds in Dallas.
QUICK LANE BOWL
RUTGERS vs. NORTH CAROLINA (4:30 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN)
North Carolina opened at -3.5, as oddsmakers were trying to encourage some underdog betting. That did come into play from sharps, as we’ve mostly been seeing North Carolina -3 or Rutgers +3.5 through the course of betting. That’s likely to continue until kickoff, with the public backing the favorite in a decent TV window…and sharps (particularly any New York based sharps who like Rutgers) taking the hook when they see it because of the percentages. The Over/Under is up from 65.5 to 68. Remember that this is an indoor game on a fast track in Detroit.
ST. PETERSBURG BOWL
NORTH CAROLINA STATE vs. CENTRAL FLORIDA (8 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN)
Central Florida has a relatively short trip to Tropicana Field for this home state bowl. They opened as a small favorite at -1.5 and were bet up. Stores testing the key number of three are seeing underdog money on NC State come in. That may set up a tug-of-war before the prime time kickoff with UCF -2.5 and NC State +3. The total has been bet down from 50 to 48. This game is indoors…so that’s mostly quant influenced.
VIRGINIA TECH vs. CINCINNATI (1 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN)
Moving now to Saturday. This game will be played at Annapolis, which represents a relatively short trip for Virginia Tech. The game opened Cincinnati -3.5, and was bet down to the key number of three…and then below. To this point, we’re now seeing a tug-of-war between Cincinnati -2.5 and Virginia Tech +3. There could be some decent public action on this one because squares had all day Friday to bet it. Nothing happening on the Over/Under yet, which opened at 51. Weather isn’t supposed to be a factor…and quants must have had it at 51 themselves or they would have jumped in already.
DUKE vs. ARIZONA STATE (2 p.m. ET Saturday on CBS)
This could be a very fun game to watch, which is often the case in El Paso. Looks like weather won’t be a factor beyond cooler temperatures (mid 40’s) than ASU is used to in the desert. The Sun Devils opened at -8, and were bet down to -7.5. The line is not likely to drop to the key number. Squares will likely bet the high octane favorite. Sharps will take +8 (or better) on the dog again if they see it. The Over/Under has dropped from 68 to 65. That’s a “bet against type” scenario considering the reputations of these teams. Something like that usually proves relevant. My best guess is that the matchup guys are expecting some long multi-play drives leading to points that run a lot of clock.
MIAMI vs. SOUTH CAROLINA (4 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2)
Miami has received strong support from sharps in a lot of games this season. That didn’t always work out! Here, the Hurricanes were bet up from pick-em to -3.5. That’s a HUGE move because it went to and through the key number of three. I’m always emphasizing to you how big a move from 2.5 to 3.5 is. This one opened as a toss-up! The Over/Under opened at 60 and has been bet up to 61 despite the chances for rain in the forecast in Shreveport.
PENN STATE vs. BOSTON COLLEGE (4:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN)
Not much betting interest yet in this one, as the openers of BC -2.5 and 40 are still on the board. The fact that the game has frozen at 2.5 tells you very emphatically that sharps DON’T like Boston College. They would have pushed that game to the key number right away if they had. So, we can deduce that sharps planning on betting this game are hoping to see and bet Penn State +3 after public action. That’s a very low total. But, Yankee Stadium is known for having issues with its turf every year in this game. And, both coaches may choose to play it close to the vest. Quants haven’t touched it.
NEBRASKA vs. USC (8 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN)
USC has been bet up from an opener of -5.5 to -7. There’s clearly some concern about Nebraska in the wake of former coach Bo Pelini’s dismissal. That’s why there wasn’t any buyback on the Huskers at the key number. Sharps preferring the Trojans are happy to be in at -5.5, -6, and -6.5. It will probably take at least +7.5 for sharps to take Nebraska. That could come into play in a prime time West Coast start involving a showcase team that has a large following in Vegas. Las Vegas might as well be a suburb of Los Angeles for betting purposes, which means USC money hitting the board all day. This will be the most heavily bet bowl game of the weekend, possibly by a good bit. Monitor the line during the day Saturday to see if you can determine if squares are pushing the line higher…and if sharps are finally stepping in on the dog. The total is up a point from 61 to 62.
That’s it for the Friday and Saturday bowls. You can purchase my BEST BETS in these games right here at the VSM website with your credit card. If you have any questions about my personal service, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Friday, or Saturday before the Military Bowl kicks off.
I’ll be back later in the day Friday…a bit later than usual given the unique nature of a Week 17 schedule. I’m planning to have this week’s NFL report up by 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. Las Vegas time. And, I’ll be emphasizing the games that matter most in the playoff picture. Given that Christmas Day fell in the way of possible betting influences, I want to make sure we take extra time Friday to allow meaningful money to hit the board in the games that matter most.
My next bowl report will be early Monday. I’ll cover six games on that update for Monday and Tuesday. We’re looking at a stellar schedule those days as some of the top teams are starting to hit the board. Then, late Tuesday or very early Wednesday, I’ll post a special report for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day that will include the national semifinals featuring Oregon/Florida State and Alabama/Ohio State.
I’m really looking forward to the next several days of football. I’m sure you are too. Thanks very much for reading. See you again later Friday.
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