Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, November 27, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Our busy holiday week continues with a look at sharp betting in Saturday’s marquee matchups. Some great rivalry showdowns as well as games that loom very large over the national championship race. Going to be a busy afternoon and evening! Games are listed in rotation order so you can make notes in your schedules…
SELECT SATURDAY MARQUEE MATCHUPS
OHIO STATE AT MICHIGAN (on ABC): Very interesting developments here. Pretty much everyone in the world decided last Saturday night that they wanted to bet against Ohio State in this game. The loss to Michigan State was awful, and players were complaining in the media. Early offshore testers were pounded with Wolverine money. The formal opener saw Michigan go up as a 1-point favorite (unthinkable just a week ago). That was driven higher temporarily…but now Ohio State money has started to hit the board. As I write this, the Buckeyes are favored at -1. The quants are still going to get Ohio State in their math. But “eye test” handicappers, situational handicappers (rivalry revenge + Harbaugh in this case) and “matchup” handicappers (strong Michigan defense vs. inconsistent OSU offense) may still talk themselves into the hosts. Who will the public take on game day? The Over/Under is up from 45 to 46.5, suggesting some of that Ohio State “bounce back” money is expecting the offense to make adjustments. Weather should be fine. (I’ll only mention totals today that have moved at least a point.)
PENN STATE AT MICHIGAN STATE (on ESPN): This one has been time changed to 3:30 p.m. ET. Huge spot for Sparty because they need to win to clinch a berth in the Big 10 Championship game…but they’re in a huge letdown spot after the upset at Ohio State. An opener of MSU -11 has been bet down to -10.5. But, that’s the limit of support for the dog. The public likes taking favorites in “must win” spots. So, we may have a tug-of-war on game day between Penn State +11 and MSU -10.5.
NORTH CAROLINA AT NC STATE (on ABC): North Carolina has been prominent in “spoiler” discussions because they’ll play Clemson in the ACC Championship game. Sharps are looking at NC State as the spoiler here. The opener of NC -7 is down to just -5.5. Big sandwich spot because Carolina clinched their division with an overtime win at Virginia Tech last week, and now has Clemson on deck. Huge move to the Over…as an opener of 61.5 is all the way up to 66. You can deduce beautiful weather from that! Quants expect a fast-paced shootout.
FLORIDA STATE AT FLORIDA (on ESPN): This one has been time changed to 7:30 p.m. ET for the prime time spot on ESPN. Florida gets Alabama next week in the SEC Championship. That, plus the Gators lethargic play of late has put sharps firmly on Florida State. An opener of pick-em has been bet up to -2.5. It’s assumed home dog money would come in on the key number of three. But, last week’s poor effort vs. Florida Atlantic might inhibit that possibility. For now, sharps are happy with their positions on more motivated FSU at anything below the three.
TEXAS A&M AT LSU (on the SEC Network): This one has been time changed to 7:30 p.m. ET. Another game where the total is being hit much heavier than either team side. The opener of 50.5 is up to 55. Weather’s supposed to be nice. And, the Aggies fast tempo could inspire a high scoring shootout. LSU’s defense has started to fade of late too…so handicappers emphasizing recent form really jumped in here. On the team side, sliding LSU opened at -5, and was bet up to -5.5. I expect Aggies money to hit the board if +6 comes into play.
ALABAMA AT AUBURN (on CBS): Alabama continues to cover spreads, so money continues to come in on them! Here the opener of -13 has been bet up to -14.5. That’s important because it crosses the key number of 14. Not much buyback yet. Though, anyone interested in Auburn is smart to wait to see if the public drives this line higher. Position takers were happy at -14 or less, and may come back in for a shot at a middle if the line keeps rising from public action before kickoff.
CLEMSON AT SOUTH CAROLINA (on ESPN): This one has been time changed to noon ET. Not a lot of betting interest because Carolina’s been such a disappointment this season. How can you bet on a team that just lost to Citadel?! Tough to love Clemson with the ACC title tilt coming up next week. For now, a light tug-of-war between Clemson -17 and South Carolina +17.5.
OKLAHOMA AT OKLAHOMA STATE (on ABC): Huge game in the Big 12. Oklahoma opened at -7. Some dog money came in early…bringing the line below the key number. But, the game was bet right back up to the seven. Math guys get Oklahoma because they have such great stats when things are going well. Sharps who emphasize situations more are looking at the dangerous home underdog in a bounce-back spot against a historically unreliable favorite. This may end up being a very heavily bet game that sticks close to the seven all day. There is a chance for rain on what’s expected to be the second straight cold Saturday night in the state. Clearer conditions might have inspired more support for Oklahoma State’s pass-heavy attack.
MISSISSIPPI AT MISSISSIPPI STATE (on ESPN2): This one has been time changed to 7:15 p.m. ET. Quants expect a high scoring Egg Bowl, as the opening total of 60 has been bet up to 64. Think of the Texas/Louisiana line as the “weather” border this week. It’s expected to be rainy and cool just West of that…but great weather for football almost anywhere East of that. So, cold in OU/OSU, but nice in Texas A&M/LSU and here. Not much happening on the team side with Ole Miss fairly stable at -1.
NOTRE DAME AT STANFORD (on FOX): This should be a heavily bet game because Notre Dame always brings in money. We’ve been around Stanford -4 all week. Some stores are testing -3.5. I’d be very surprised if the key number of three was brought into play, even if the public lines up on the Irish. Stanford is respected in the markets, and Notre Dame has a very difficult travel sequence after playing on the East Coast last Saturday night. Tough to play in California right after that.
UCLA AT USC (on ABC): This one has been time changed to 3:30 p.m. ET, and will determine who wins the Pac 12 South. Great throwback doubleheader with so much interest in Ohio State/Michigan and UCLA/USC. Many of us long timers grew up with that Thanksgiving Week doubleheader in the days before cable. We’ve been painted on the key number of three all week for the home favorite. Remember that this is NOT a neutral site game even though both teams play in Los Angeles. USC plays in the Coliseum, UCLA in the Rose Bowl. I would expect sharps to fade any moves off the three…though USC gets more support when the game is sitting on the key number. Will take squares and sharps to push this to a sustained -3.5 or higher. The Over/Under has dropped from 63 to 62. That’s not weather related because the forecast is for great weather here as well.
I’m really looking forward to the full football weekend after Detroit and Carolina cashed so easily for me Thanksgiving afternoon. My BEST BETS in Saturday college football 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 Friday afternoon or before first kick Saturday.
Thanks for reading. Back with you around dinner time Friday with our weekly NFL report.
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