Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 11:00 AM
Normally in this spot, I’d talk about the Thursday night NFL game and the marquee matchups coming up Saturday in college football. We’ll definitely look at Titans/Steelers momentarily. But, Saturday? There aren’t ANY truly great matchups. The closest thing to a huge game is Michigan at Wisconsin. Michigan’s been a disappointment this season, and Wisconsin is the least respected Final Four contender in terms of Las Vegas Power Ratings.
I did find a few matchups to talk about that feature some bowl-caliber teams going head-to-head. Let’s jump in, starting with tonight’s potential NFL playoff preview in Pittsburgh. Games are listed in the order they appear on the schedule. We’ll pick up with the rest of the NFL tomorrow.
Tennessee at Pittsburgh: The opener of Pittsburgh -7 is standing pat. That’s a key number, and it takes a lot of money to move off a key number. Though, Tennessee is getting more interest than the host in early money. Some stores are charging larger juice on the Titans, smaller juice on the Steelers as a result. Sharps would fade any move off the seven in either direction. I don’t expect to see such a move. The total has been bet up from 43 to 44, which tells you weather shouldn’t be a factor. We’ve seen so many garbage time points in recent TV games that people are afraid to bet Unders.
SATURDAY COLLEGE MATCHUPS
Texas at West Virginia: This line opened at West Virginia -3, one of the few major conference games with a spread this tight. Texas needs to win one of its last two games to reach a bowl. Both of these teams will be handfuls for opponents in the postseason. We have seen some stores test West Virginia -3.5 because the Mountaineers usually get a lot of betting respect on this tough home field. We may not see a tug-of-war here because Texas didn’t impress in its last road test at TCU.
TCU at Texas Tech: Another game near a key number. TCU opened at -6, and has been bet up to -7. It’s been sitting there since. Though, I have seen some 6.5’s out there. That tells me that we might see a tug-of-war on game day between TCU -6.5 from the public and Texas Tech as a home underdog at +7 from the sharps. This would have been a big letdown spot for TCU if they had played well vs. Oklahoma last week. They didn’t. So, many “fundamentals” handicappers see it as a bounce back spot for the Horned Frogs.
Virginia at Miami: This is a killer letdown spot for Miami after beating Virginia Tech and Notre Dame the past two weeks. But, Virginia hasn’t been as impressive lately as they were earlier this season. An opener of Miami -17 has been bet up to -19.5 as a correction from that Notre Dame result. Oddsmakers had significantly underrated Miami heading into those two huge contests. Have we gone too high now? I definitely expect to see sharps come in on Virginia if +20 comes into play. Dog lovers might settle for what they see now.
Utah at Washington: Utah is dealing with some injury issues, which is why we’ve seen Washington at -17.5 all week despite their loss last week to Stanford. This has been a strong home field under this head coach…so oddsmakers took a shot on a high line. Right now, not much interest from bettors. But, Utah’s defense is capable of making this one interesting if they have any energy left from the Washington State loss last week. I think the public would hit the Huskies at -17, while dog lovers are waiting to see what they can get.
Navy at Notre Dame: The game opened at -18.5. I’ve seen stores testing adjustments in both directions. Passion for the Irish dried up after the big loss at Miami. But, they will own a big point of attack advantage over a less-impressive than usual Navy side. I’ll be watching this one very closely on game day. It wouldn’t be surprising if we either have a move toward 17 one way, or 20 the other once the most important forces in the market make up their mind about Notre Dame.
Michigan at Wisconsin: Here’s the big one! The first number up was Wisconsin -10, which didn’t make much sense given how they’re a run-heavy offense and they’re facing a strong run defense. The Over/Under 39 (bet down from 43) tells you that points will be at a premium. We’re now seeing Michigan +7.5 almost everywhere…with some stores even going down to the key number of seven. Needless to say, sharps showed a lot of support for the Wolverines defense by pounding Michigan and the Under. Will the public take the Badgers at -7? Not a sure thing because Wisconsin soft schedule has kept them out of big TV games. Squares may not trust that offense either.
UCLA at USC: Too bad UCLA has been such a disappointment this season. Back during the summer, everyone was pointing to this as a big game matching future NFL quarterbacks. We still have some QB talent on the field…but even the stock of Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold isn’t quite what it used to be. The opening line of USC -15 has been bet up to -16. That may be where it settles because sharp dog money will take +16 rather than waiting around to see if the longshot of +17 comes into play.
It may not be a great weekend to WATCH college games on TV, but it’s certainly going to be a great weekend to BET football. You can purchase my BEST BETS in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure you ask about combination packages when you call. College basketball has been under way for a week now. You regulars know that’s my favorite sport to handicap and bet.
Thanks for reading. See you again tomorrow to run through the rest of the NFL card. Some big games this weekend like LA Rams/Minnesota, New England/Oakland (in Mexico City), Philadelphia/Dallas, and Atlanta/Seattle.