Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, November 20, 2015 at 12:00 PM
We’re winding through the final weeks of the college football season. Some very important games on tap that could have a big influence on which teams make the Final Four at the end of the season. There are also some very good matchups that will produce some exciting football as they impact conference and divisional races.
I’ve picked out nine games to look at. I’ll present them in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes in your schedules. A few time changes in the mix…I’ll mention those when they pop up.
LSU AT OLE MISS (on CBS): This one has been time changed to 3:30 p.m. ET. It looked like it was going to be a HUGE game in the SEC West race much of the year. But, Alabama has taken care of business since losing to Ole Miss…while Ole Miss hasn’t! There’s a chance of rain, with winds expected to be a factor. Normally that would favor the run-heavy LSU Tigers. But, the market is betting hard the other way. Ole Miss opened at -4.5, and has been bet up to -6. Many stores have tested 6.5 and seen LSU money come in with the hook. That could set up a tug-of-war on game day between Ole Miss -6 and LSU +6.5. Amazing how far LSU has fallen in market perceptions since kickoff of their game with ‘Bama. The Over/Under has dropped a lot from 59.5 to 56. That’s a combination of quant and weather influences. The opener was too high for the matchup…and weather is likely to be an issue.
MEMPHIS AT TEMPLE (on ESPNU): Want to keep the American Athletic Conference on your radar because the league’s best games have been entertaining…and the AAC is likely to be important in your bowl handicapping. This is a TV game in the early noon ET window. Big moves here on Temple and the Under, as sharps support the run-based host over the pass-happy visitor with the soft defense. Openers of Memphis -2 and 65.5 are down to 1 and 58. Weather isn’t likely to be an issue…so that’s a very strong quant move Under on the assumption Temple will impose its style on proceedings.
NORTH CAROLINA AT VIRGINIA TECH (on ESPN): Also at noon in the early window, North Carolina is getting a lot of attention as a potential spoiler for Clemson. They’ll likely meet in the ACC Championship game. Carolina opened at -6 because of that respect. But, home dog money has been coming in on Virginia Tech at that price. We’re now seeing 5 or 5.5 in most stores. The total is up from 58.5 to 61.5. Carolina’s style often creates shootouts even when they play plodders like the Hokies. Good test for NC in terms of their ability to derail Clemson in a few weeks.
BAYLOR AT OKLAHOMA STATE (on FOX): This one has been time changed to 7:30 p.m for TV. That’s going to create a chilly experience because a cold front will be influencing that part of the country. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid 30’s…which is something neither team has much experience with. That may be part of why the Over/Under dropped from 81 to 77. Though, Baylor’s offensive inconsistency (relatively speaking) last week in a big game vs. Oklahoma is also an influence. Not much happening on the team side. Okie State opened at -1 and is still there at most shops. The Wise Guys have been much more active on Over/Unders to this point.
MICHIGAN STATE AT OHIO STATE (on ABC): One of the biggest games this season but it’s not in prime time. The 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff will put the game in rainy and windy conditions. This game will be warmer than those played in Oklahoma Saturday night! Look for temps in the mid 40’s. Ohio State opened at -13…was bet up for awhile to -14…but has mostly settled now around -13.5. Sharps are trying to pin down the injury status of MSU quarterback Connor Cook. Sparty needs him to have a good passing game…which is tough given last week’s shoulder injury and the weather conditions. Interestingly, the total is up from 51 to 53. I’m hearing from quants that’s because OSU’s offense has been better with J.T. Barrett at quarterback.
TCU AT OKLAHOMA (on ABC): This has been time changed to 8 p.m. ET. ABC is hoping that TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin can play. There’s still no line on the game because of his unknown status after last week’s injury vs. Kansas. Temperatures will be in the high 30’s across the Sooner state. Once a number goes up…you should assume that first action is from the Wise Guys, while any line moves in the hours just before kickoff would be triggered by the general public wanting to bet the TV game. I will tell you that sharps are looking for a way to invest in Oklahoma at a reasonable price given TCU’s reliance on a healthy Boykin to succeed.
UCLA AT UTAH (on FOX): this one has been time changed to 3:30 p.m. ET for the midday TV window. Big one in the Pac 12 South because Utah and USC are both 5-2, while UCLA is 4-3. USC owns the tie-breaker over Utah because of a head-to-head win…so the Utes have to win here and hope UCLA can take out the Trojans in their upcoming rivalry game. Might be a weather boost to the host because the SoCal kids aren’t used to playing in the 30’s. The market doesn’t see it that way, as the line is still a low -2 for the Utes. The total has moved (common for the day), with an opener of 59.5 coming all the way down to 55. The loss of star running back Devontae Booker for Utah is one of the key influences there.
NOTRE DAME VS. BOSTON COLLEGE (on NBC Sports Network from Fenway Park): This one goes at 7:30 p.m. It will be fun to see a football game played at Fenway Park. Though, football on baseball fields often gets sloppy because the turf isn’t ideal. Rare game here where the team side has moved a couple points but the total hasn’t budged. Notre Dame has dropped from -17.5 to -15.5 because the offense may have trouble putting up points vs. this great BC defense on a poor field. The Over/Under opened very low at 42.5 and is still there.
USC AT OREGON (on ESPN): Also part of the very strong 3:30 p.m. ET TV window this week. All those Saturday’s with poor schedules…now this week we have so many great games going head to head! Oregon is back in the Pac 12 North race after upsetting Stanford last week…but they’ll need some help from California. USC is in the thick of the South race…but it gets messy if they lose here. Oregon opened at -3.5 and has been bet up to -4. Clearly sharps have no longer thrown in the towel on the Ducks. And, USC looked so shaky at Colorado that it was hard to trust them here. The total is up from 70 to 72 because weather isn’t expected to be an influence. Many projected these teams to meet in the Pac 12 Championship game. Might have that kind of big game feel anyway.
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Back with you later today with our weekly NFL report. See you then.
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