Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Eight games to talk about today as we cover the three bowls set for action on New Year’s Eve, then the annual New Year’s Day Extravaganza that…for the first time ever…features the National Semifinals that will determine who plays for the college football championship.
It’s the biggest two-day stretch of the college football postseason…and it will feature almost every national power of note from the regular season.
I’ll take the games in schedule order so you can make notes in your schedules…
MISSISSIPPI vs. TCU (12:30 p.m. ET Wednesday on ESPN)
Many out here in Las Vegas had both TCU and Ole Miss higher than Florida State in their Power Ratings. TCU would have been a “Final Four” team if a consensus of oddsmakers were in charge of the brackets. Instead, we have a fantastic matchup in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl! TCU opened at -3, and was fairly quickly bet off the key number to -3.5. That tells you how much respect the Wise Guys have for the Horned Frogs this year. They bet them off the key number on a neutral field against the team that beat Alabama! I don’t think we’ll see much game-day betting here unless there’s an injury or suspension that’s announced in the morning hours before kickoff. Nothing happening yet on the total. I’ll only mention Over/Unders in games that have moved at least a point from the opener.
BOISE STATE vs. ARIZONA (4 p.m. ET Wednesday on ESPN)
An opener of Arizona -4 has been bet down to Arizona -3. Some stores are showing the favorite by 3.5. But, there wasn’t an aggressive buyback on the key number after the drop…so you could say for sure that the “sharp side” is Boise State at +4 or +3.5. The public may take the line higher during the day because squares like betting TV favorites. Sharps will buy more Boise at +4. If they see it. This will be the most buzz-worthy game at Nevada sportsbooks Wednesday because the Mountain West and Pac 12 are well-represented by locals. Not much local fandom for the Mississippi schools who are on the New Year’s Eve card. I’m sure those that do exist will be front and center!
GEORGIA TECH vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE (8 p.m. ET Wednesday on ESPN)
Mississippi State opened at -7, which raised some eyebrows in the media because Final Four-bound Florida State was only -3.5. on a neutral field over this same Georgia Tech team. That tells you oddsmakers think the Bulldogs are at least a field goal better than defending National Champion FSU. Sharp money has come in on the underdog, and many stores are now showing only 6.5. We may see a tug-of-war in the prime time game with the public on the TV favorite at -6.5, while sharps are on Tech at +7. No interest on any of the New Year's Ever Over/Unders. Quants were in line with oddsmakers. Only the Orange Bowl will be played outdoors…and weather usually isn’t a factor in Miami.
WISCONSIN vs. AUBURN (noon p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN2)
Happy New Year! We move to Thursday, and the first day of 2015. The first number up for Auburn offshore was -4.5. Early bettors pushed that line up to -6. It has subsequently moved to -6.5 as we get closer to kickoff. I’m fairly certain that Wisconsin money is waiting in the wings to come in at the key number of +7. So, only Auburn money is in play so far…but it’s in play fairly aggressively at six or below. Sharps tend to like SEC teams vs. the Midwest, though that hasn’t worked out as well recently as it has in the past (Notre Dame upset LSU Monday to anger SEC backers). The Over/Under is up from 61.5 to 63.5 because Auburn plays high scoring games and Wisconsin was bullied by Ohio State. The public may drive that number even higher unless weather is going to become a factor in Tampa.
MICHIGAN STATE vs. BAYLOR (12:30 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN)
Possibly the most highly anticipated bowl game outside of the Final Four hasn’t seen much line movement yet. Baylor opened at -2, and has been bet up to -2.5. Michigan State money would definitely come in hard at +3, particularly from old school sharps that like betting defensive run-based teams against the newfangled fast break teams that often have soft defenses. Given all the hype about Baylor insisting they should have been in the Final Four, it’s a telling indictment from the market that this line is less than a field goal in the state of Texas. Only Baylor money is in the market thus far. Sparty is waiting to see what it can get. I expect squares to bet the Over here. A very high opener of 70.5 hasn’t generated much action yet. Some stores are testing 70 or 69.5 to see if that generates some nibbles.
CAPITAL ONE BOWL
MINNESOTA vs. MISSOURI (1 p.m. ET Thursday on ABC)
The lowest profile game of the day will still get plenty of betting action because the public loves betting every game on New Year’s. An opener of Missouri -5.5 has been bet down by the Wise Guys to Minnesota +4.5. We’re not near a key number…but that’s still a fairly meaningful move because it came early against the expected flow of square action. The public usually doesn’t bet on teams like Minnesota as an underdog. The Over/Under has dropped from 49 to 47.5.
ROSE BOWL: NATIONAL SEMI-FINAL
FLORIDA STATE vs. OREGON (5 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN)
The first of the two National Semifinal games is obviously going to be very heavily bet. Oregon is a popular betting team in Las Vegas with squares because they run up the score. Many sharps love taking talented underdogs in big games. So…we’re very likely to see a sharp/square split here. The opener of Oregon -8 was bet up to -9, with some stores considering 9.5 because only Duck money was hitting the board early on. FSU money started to show in recent hours…and I’m seeing Oregon -8 or -8.5 as I write this. Not sure where the tug-of-war will center just yet. Sharps will definitely pound FSU at +9 (or better). The public will probably like Oregon -8. The opening Over/Under of 70.5 is already up to 72 or 72.5. As the early games end, the public will start to bet this total…and that number could go up even higher to 73.5 or 74 unless weather is an issue.
SUGAR BOWL: NATIONAL SEMI-FINAL
OHIO STATE vs. ALABAMA (8:30 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN)
This will be one of the heaviest bet college football games of all time. Perfect spot on the calendar to draw maximum action…and it involves two teams who are heavily bet here in Las Vegas. Ohio State alumni are never shy about backing their team! That’s true for Alabama fans too. Alabama went up at -9.5, but never reached the key number of 10. If sharps wanted to back the favorite strong, that 9.5 wouldn’t have lasted long. I’m now seeing Alabama -9 (with a few -8.5’s) across town because the biggest bets have been on the Buckeyes. Syndicates thinking about ‘Bama would likely start to come in at -8, and possibly will even at -8.5. It looks like sportsbooks may be rooting for Alabama…because only Crimson Tide fans are betting the team at the high number thus far. Sharps, Buckeye fans, and neutral football lovers are taking the points. The Over/Under is up two points from the opener of 56.5 to 58.5. Ohio State did score points with new quarterback Cardale Jones vs. Wisconsin. Alabama’s playing at a faster pace this season than in the past. That number might see 60 by kickoff.
Boy is that going to be a fun two days of college football. You can purchase my BEST BETS each day 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 before the earliest game kicks off Wednesday or Thursday.
I’ll be back with you again Friday afternoon to look at this weekend’s four Wildcard games plus the Birmingham and Go-Daddy Bowls. It’s been a very busy stretch here at the website as 2014 comes to a close. Thanks to all of you for reading. Have a great New Year’s celebration and I’ll see you again Friday.
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