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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, September 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Back with a look at the highest profile college football games you’ll be watching on TV this Saturday. There are only two games matching teams ranked in the Top 25 (both in the Pac 12). So, it’s not a day of wall-to-wall blockbusters. But, there are definitely some games of interest involving teams that have been making recent headlines.

As always, games are presented in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes in your schedules. That means they aren’t listed in kickoff order after all the time changes. I’ll make note of the starting times in each matchup so you can get a mental picture of how your betting day is going to play out.

Here we go…

BYU AT MICHIGAN (ABC): This is one of the early kicks at noon ET (9 a.m. out here in Las Vegas). You recognize right away that it’s a bad body clock game for BYU, who played late last Saturday on the West Coast at UCLA. An opener of Michigan -5 has been bet up to the key number of -7. Underdog money does start to come in then. We may see a tug-of-war on game day between the public betting the TV home favorite at -6.5 and sharps taking the dog whenever the seven appears. Sharps who like Michigan got in early at a better price. The Over/Under has dropped from 48 down to 45.5. That’s partly a quant move off of Michigan’s poor passing stats this season…and partly from a weather forecast suggesting windy conditions. It’s not uncommon to see Over/Unders drop whenever the wind is supposed to be steady at 10 mph or more. Some of you may be surprised to hear that many sharps pay more attention to wind than precipitation.

TEXAS A&M VS. ARKANSAS (ESPN from Arlington, TX): This has been time-changed to 7 p.m. ET for ESPN, and will be played in the Dallas Cowboys home stadium. Sharps love the Aggies here…as an opener of -5.5 has been bet up to -7…with some stores now testing -7.5. That’s a huge difference from the summer Game of the Year estimates that had Arkansas favored. And, you regulars know that any game that moves through a key number represents very strong support. Why so much love for the Aggies? I’m hearing from Wise Guys that A&M is seen as a better version of the Texas Tech team that won so easily at Arkansas last week. If the Hogs couldn’t stop Tech, how are they going to stop A&M? The total has come down from 60 to 58.5 because Arkansas has had trouble finding the end zone the past two weeks against teams they were supposed to be scoring on.

LSU AT SYRACUSE (ESPN): This has been time changed to an early kick at noon ET. It’s hard to understate how much respect sharps now have for this improved LSU team. The Tigers opened at -23.5 on the road at a historically tough site, and were bet up to the key number of -24. That’s despite the fact that this is a letdown spot off a pair of SEC West games…with a starting time they’re not used to…as an outdoor team playing a dome…and a grass field team playing on artificial turf…at a site known for TV upsets! The opening total of 45 has been bet up to 47. We can deduce that sharps expect LSU running back Leonard Fournette to have another big game based on “LSU and Over” support.

TCU AT TEXAS TECH (FOX): This has been time changed to 4:45 p.m. ET, and is suddenly a very high profile game in the championship chase. TCU was life and death in the fourth quarter with SMU last week, while Tech was scoring that impressive road win at Arkansas. The opening line of TCU -7 has come down in places to -6.5. But, TCU money does hit the board below the key number of seven. We may see a tug-of-war between those prices on game day. And, that tug-of-war may come from competing sharp syndicates. Old school types who like home dogs will be calling for the upset. Quants who project TCU’s potent offense against what’s usually a soft Tech defense will expect a blowout, particularly with Tech possibly running out of gas after the Arkansas game. The highest opening total of the season went up at 81. Some stores have dropped to 80.5.

UTAH AT OREGON (FOX): This has been time changed to 8:30 p.m. ET as a follow-up on FOX to the game above. An opener of Oregon -14 has dropped to -11.5. A few issues in play here. Sharps are skeptical that Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams will be able to shine. He missed last week with a broken finger. If he does play this week, his downfield passing will be hampered (as you saw in the Michigan State game). That plus Oregon’s soft defense makes it hard to assume a blowout is imminent. The Over/Under has dropped 68.5 to 64.5 because Utah plays Unders when controlling its destiny.

OKLAHOMA STATE AT TEXAS (ESPN): This has been time changed to 3:30 p.m. ET for the midday TV window. It may be a stretch to call this a “marquee” matchup. But, it is a high profile TV game matching teams you’ll be seeing down the road against TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma in Big 12 action. We’re seeing a pretty solid OSU -3 all week. Stores that test anything else see their line driven back to the key number. If it’s half as exciting as the second half of Cal-Texas from last week, it will be worth checking out for awhile.

USC AT ARIZONA STATE (ESPN): This has been time changed to 10:30 p.m. ET, which puts it in prime time out here in Vegas but will create an early Sunday morning finish for those of you on the East coast. USC is painted at -5.5 as I write this. Anybody testing the six sees home underdog money coming in. Sharps who were expecting big things from USC this year were surprised the Trojans were beaten so badly by Stanford last week. Don’t get me wrong…many sharps liked Stanford there and cashed. But…clearly the general Power Ratings were too high for the Trojans. Is that still the case here? The game would be about -8.5 or -9 on a neutral field based on this line. The Over/Under is down from 63.5 to 61.5 because of skepticism about Arizona State’s offense this year. You could say that support for USC is being expressed with those Under bets from sharps who don’t want to lay points on the road. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a line move in the hours before kickoff because this is a game that will likely be bet heavily by “locals” in Nevada. That could set up a tug-of-war between square money on USC -5.5 or -6, and sharp money on +6 of +6.5.

UCLA AT ARIZONA (ABC): This has been time changed to 8 p.m. ET for the national prime time spot on ABC. This one and Utah/Oregon are the only matchups this week involving two ranked teams going head to head. For now, a solid UCLA -3…with sharps likely to bring any public move back to the key number. UCLA would have been a popular bet if they hadn’t missed the mark so badly in last week’s nailbiter vs. BYU. Instead, we have competing schools of thought in play. I know of Wise Guy syndicates who love the home underdog in this spot against the inexperienced (and now mistake-prone) visiting quarterback. But, there are also groups who believe UCLA will own the point of attack so dramatically that -3 is a gift. This could be a heavily bet game by kickoff…and sportsbooks will hope it doesn’t land right on the three. The opening total of 64 has been bet up to 66…though some Under money does come in at the 66.

CALIFORNIA AT WASHINGTON (PAC 12 NETWORK): This one was time changed to 5 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. out here in the Pacific Time zone. Another one that’s not exactly “marquee,” but it features teams who I can tell you are getting some sharp attention in the Pac 12 North. Washington’s defense has a chance to keep them in the game with divisional powers Stanford and Oregon. You saw last week how productive Cal’s passing offense can be. Things may be getting more interesting than expected in this division! For this game, an opener of California -2 has been bet up to -3. I wouldn’t be surprised though if Washington money comes in during the day at a field goal or better. Tough schedule spot for Cal after playing in hot Texas last Saturday night. Wanted to put this game on your radar because it’s on the Wise Guys’ radar.

My top Saturday plays will be available for credit card purchase here at the website before the early games kick off. If you’re reading this Friday, build your bankrolls with Friday night baseball and that college doubleheader (Boise State/Virginia and Stanford/Oregon State). Thanks to all of you who signed up for my service winners last night on NYG -3 and the Over in Cincinnati/Memphis. If you have any questions about longterm packages, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 today during normal business hours, or Saturday or Sunday before the earliest games kick off.

Thanks for reading. I’m aiming to have my NFL report up by dinner time Friday on the East Coast. You can either check that out later today or when you wake up Saturday morning. It will be here on the VSM BLOG all through the weekend for you. Best of luck to you this weekend.  


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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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