Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, September 6, 2018 at 2:00 PM
Before we take a look at the biggest TV games on Saturday, let’s start with the important line movement in Thursday night’s NFL season opener matching the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. I delayed release of this report on Thursday because some stores had made the Falcons a favorite!
ATLANTA AT PHILADELPHIA: This game sat on Philadelphia -4 or -3.5. all summer. When it was confirmed Carson Wentz wouldn’t be able to return…on the heels of a dismal preseason performance for the Eagles…the line dropped through the key number of three all the way to Philly -2. That’s a HUGE move in the NFL because the three is so important. Late Wednesday we started seeing Philly -1 painted. Thursday morning pick-em was more common, with even the occasional Atlanta -1 popping up. Obviously sharps (professional bettors) like Atlanta getting two or better. The public has also jumped on this bandwagon. Hard to find real enthusiasm for Philadelphia at pick-em. Some shows at +1. The Over/Under is down from 46.5 to 44.5. Quants apparently like Under 45 or higher. No buyback yet on the Over.
Now to Saturday’s most high-profile college games. These go in rotation order.
MISSISSIPPI STATE AT KANSAS STATE: An early opener of Mississippi State -7 was bet up to as high as -9 or 9.5. Kansas State interest has started to show late in the week, causing some stores to drop to -8. The Wildcats looked awful last week in a close home win over South Dakota. Mississippi State was one of many SEC teams to win a blowout over a doormat. Old school sharps couldn’t resist a home dog with a respected coach after it became clear +10 wasn’t going to come into play.
ARIZONA AT HOUSTON: Respect for Arizona has fallen a lot. Sharps bet against them hard last week with BYU, and won outright easily. Here, Houston opened at -3.5…and was bet away from the key number of three up to -4. That’s what I’m seeing now. A big indictment of Arizona. But, not any support for the Cougars at the four.
GEORGIA AT SOUTH CAROLINA: An opener of Georgia -9 was bet up to the key number of -10. We didn’t see dog interest at that line, which is telling. Looks like most sharps made the game ten and were happy to get a great team like Georgia just below that. We probably won’t see old school dog lovers come in until +10.5 or +11 becomes available (if it does). Squares (the public) usually love highly ranked favorites. That could push this line higher on game day. Early sharp money wanted to get in before the public.
COLORADO AT NEBRASKA: I decided to take UCLA/Oklahoma off my list because that point spread is higher than four touchdowns. I put this one on the list because so many sharps are interested to see what impact new head coach Scott Frost has at Nebraska this season. They’re not supporting him yet. This opener of Nebraska -4 is down to -3.5 in some spots. Looks like some sharps like the dog at +4, and the public is leaving the game alone for the time being. I would expect the public and many sharps to take Nebraska -3 if that becomes available.
CLEMSON AT TEXAS A&M: An opener of Clemson -11 is up to -12 or -12.5, which is something because Texas A&M is from the SEC, and that conference is coming off a fantastic week. Sharps liked Clemson at -11 on the road at a loud site vs. a talented home dog! That’s a lot of important respect for Clemson. Home dog lovers have a lot of options this week. They’re hoping for +13, but may settle for +12.5 if that’s going to be the apex.
KENTUCKY AT FLORIDA: Not much happening off the opener of Florida -14. Some stores are testing -13.5…which tells you only Kentucky money was hitting the board at two touchdowns. Public doesn’t trust the Gators at high prices yet given woes of the past few seasons. Sharp dog lovers decided +14.5 wasn’t going to be, and started coming in at +14.
PENN STATE AT PITTSBURGH: An opener of Penn State -9 has come down to -8.5. Notice the difference between this and Clemson. Sharps loved Clemson at -11 even against a dangerous home dog. They didn’t like Penn State at a lower price. Nittany Lions didn’t impress vs. Appalachian State last week.
USC AT STANFORD: A lot of love from sharps for Stanford. An opener of -4 has been bet all the way up to -6. That’s a secondary key number (two field goals), and serious USC interest hasn’t been showing up yet when the six is on the board. Maybe that will change. As of right now, sharps like Stanford at -5.5 or lower. Los Angeles-based money may not hit the board until Friday and Saturday when visitors arrive.
CALIFORNIA AT BYU: Looks like a tug-of-war developing between BYU -2.5 and California +3. Bettors who won with BYU at Arizona last week like laying less than a field goal at home. But, when the line is sitting on a field goal, important money hits Cal. Not a big game in the rankings…but could be a great battle to watch. BYU always gets up for Pac 12 teams.
MICHIGAN STATE AT ARIZONA STATE: Michigan State has been bet up from -4 to -6. There is an extra day of rest here. Though, MSU didn’t impress in a late, close win over Utah State as a big favorite last week. Arizona State blasted UTSA, which might not mean much. The quants in particular are betting Sparty. There should be some upsets this week. It’s the job of bettors to figure out who those live dogs are going to be.
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Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with you Friday afternoon to look at how sharps have been betting Sunday and Monday NFL.