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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, November 6, 2015 at 11:30 AM

Some really big games on the Saturday schedule this week…as we start down the home stretch of the regular season on the way to the Championship playoff. I’ve selected nine high profile TV games to look at that will play a big role in divisional or conference races across the country. Let’s run through those in Nevada rotation order. I’ll mention time changes when appropriate.

DUKE AT NORTH CAROLINA (on ESPN2): We start the day off in the noon ET TV window with this very big game in the ACC Coastal division. These two teams plus Pittsburgh are fighting it out to see who will face the Clemson/Florida State survivor in the conference championship game. An opener of North Carolina -8 has shown some Duke interest. Most stores are either at 7.5 or 8 at the moment. Not a real passion for Duke or the game would have dropped to the key number of seven. Quants jumped all over the total…with the opener of 53 being bet up to 58. North Carolina plays at a very fast pace that often creates shootouts. The computer guys think that will pull Duke into a shootout, even though the game will likely be played in a light rain.  

TCU AT OKLAHOMA STATE (on FOX): Not much betting interest yet. Sharps apparently aren’t convinced that Oklahoma State deserves to be in the upper echelon of Big 12 contenders even though the team is undefeated. TCU opened at -5…with a drop in some spots to 4.5. If sharps saw this as a big upset spot for the home dog…we would have seen a larger move. The opening total of 77 hasn’t drawn much activity. Some stores are testing half-point moves to see if that generates any betting action. From this point forward I’ll only mention totals in games that have moved at least a point.

FLORIDA STATE AT CLEMSON (on ABC): Clemson opened at -12, very high for this series. That’s how impressive the Tigers have been in recent weeks. Sharps thought that was too high, and have been making value bets at +12, +11.5, and even +11. Most shops are showing +10.5 as I write this. The fact that rain is in the forecast may be driving some of that too. Tougher for Clemson to light up the scoreboard if conditions aren’t ideal. This game and TCU/Oklahoma State are in the 3:30 p.m. ET TV window (12:30 p.m. out here in Las Vegas).

NAVY AT MEMPHIS (on ESPN2): This one has been time changed to 7 p.m. ET. You might be surprised at first glance that a game like Navy/Memphis is in prime time on ESPN2. Well…don’t be! Memphis beat Ole Miss and is getting respect in the rankings. The American Athletic Conference on the whole has been getting some good results this season. You need to pay attention when the best teams are playing each other. Similar scenario here to Duke/NC in that an opener of -8 is mostly seeing light support for the road dog. The total has come down though, from an opener of 66 to 64. Quants believe that Navy’s ball-control offense will help slow down the pace of what we usually see from Memphis.

LSU AT ALABAMA (on CBS): This is the one everyone’s been waiting for. It’s been time changed to 8 p.m. ET for prime time on CBS. The initial opener of Alabama -7 was bet down fairly quickly to a solid 6.5. But, here late in the week we’re starting to see some Crimson Tide money hitting the board. That suggests a tug-of-war on game day between ‘Bama backers at -6.5 and LSU lovers at +7. It’s possible that the public will come in harder on Alabama because the Tide keeps winning big on TV. Sharps who were happy to take LSU at +7 will be even happier if they can get something higher due to public betting. Huge move on the Under, as an opening total of 54 has been bet all the way down to 47.5. Sources tell me that’s based on the combination of rain in the forecast and a smash mouth series history showing conservative play. Also, anyone who liked LSU initially probably liked Under anything in the 50’s because the Tigers run clock.

NOTRE DAME AT PITTSBURGH (on ABC): This one has been time changed to noon ET to highlight the early TV slate. Notre Dame is very much in the championship picture because losing at Clemson in horrible weather isn’t a big strike against them at the moment. An opener of Notre Dame -7.5 moved away from the key number pretty emphatically. Stores are at ND -8.5 or -9 at the moment. Very telling that a road favorite moved away from the seven. Sharps like the Irish, and wanted to get in before the public did. The opening total of 52 is up to 54 in what’s expected to be good football weather.

ARKANSAS AT MISSISSIPPI (on CBS): This one has been time changed to the 3:30 p.m. ET TV window. Ole Miss still has a chance to win the SEC West, the SEC, and possibly crash the Final Four thanks to that win at ‘Bama. They opened at -11 vs. what should be a fresh Arkansas team. Dog money hit the opener, leading to a widely available +10.5 as I write this. A few stores are testing the ten.

MINNESOTA AT OHIO STATE (on ABC): This one has been time changed to 8 p.m. ET. ABC loves having Ohio State in prime time no matter who they’re playing! I included this one, even with the high spread, because OSU is very much in the championship picture and people will be checking out the telecast if it stays close. Ohio State opened at -23, and has been bet up to -24. Note that the Buckeyes are coming off a bye week (that saw J.T. Barrett suspended!) while Minnesota is coming off a grueling battle with Michigan. The total has been bet up by the quants from 49.5 to 53.5.

MICHIGAN STATE AT NEBRASKA (on ESPN): Weird to have the bottom game on a Saturday football schedule coming from the Big Ten. This one has been time changed to 7 p.m. ET for ESPN. Michigan State opened at -4.5, and has been bet up to -6 from sharps who think that Michigan State’s pounding offense is well-suited to exploit Nebraska’s iffy defense. Will the public drive it higher through the day? It might take the full seven for home dog money to hit the board.

My top plays for Friday and Saturday (football and the NBA) can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about long term packages, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155. I expect sportsbooks to be jam-packed all day Saturday because there are important high profile matchups in every TV window. Should be the heaviest bet college football Saturday of the year so far with Notre Dame anchoring early action and LSU/Alabama providing such a big prime time showcase. I’ll make sure my clients get the best information from the markets Saturday morning.

Thanks for reading. See you late Friday afternoon with my weekly NFL rundown of sharp betting.

 

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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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