Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 1:00 PM
The late-week (Thursday/Friday) college football schedule is starting to pick up. So, my Thursday reports will now feature all Thursday and Friday board games (including the NFL). Then, I’ll come back at the usual time on Fridays to run through how sharps are betting Sunday and Monday action in pro football.
NY JETS AT CLEVELAND: Clear tug-of-war here between Cleveland -3 and the NY Jets +3.5. Most stores are settling at Cleveland -3 with -120 vigorish (you have to lay 12 to win 10 instead of the standard 11/10). The Jets +3 is even money at that price. A lot of sharps still respect the Browns even in this tough schedule spot (after two down-to-the-wire finishes). But, dog lovers can’t resist the hook on the improving Jets against an unproven favorite. I do know some guys who will be looking to bet the Jets as underdogs this season. 1-0 so far in that role.
TULSA AT TEMPLE: Important drop here through a key number. Temple opened at -7.5, which represents oddsmakers “expecting” sharp interest on the favorite. Instead, money has come in on underdog Tulsa hard enough to move through the key number down to +6.5. Even though that’s only a point, that’s a BIG move because it blew through the seven and froze below it. Let’s see what happens between now and kickoff. Wouldn’t be surprised if square (public) money on the favorite came in because the game is on TV. For now, we know that the Wise Guys love Tulsa at +7.5 and +7. Big drop on the total from an opener of 57 down to 53.5 worth mentioning too.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC AT CENTRAL FLORIDA: A tug-o-war so far between UCF -13.5 and Florida Atlanta +14. You know that 14 is a key number (two touchdowns). Squares can’t resist a favorite known for blowouts at just below that. Sharps like betting for value with a decent dog getting the full +14. Old school dog lovers especially like FAU +14 here. Over/Under has soared from a soft opener around 70 up to 76 or 77 based on quant action. Shootouts look to be more common this season at both the college and pro levels. Quants are on top of that.
PENN STATE AT ILLINOIS: Penn State opened at -29 after two huge blowouts the past couple of weeks. Public shies away from prices that high. Sharps have taken Illinois at +29, +28.5, and +28 (the latter a soft key number at four touchdowns). Many stores are testing Penn State -27.5 to see if that drives any action to balance out early money. Over/Under is up two points from 58 to 60.
WASHINGTON STATE AT USC: Before the season started, many were excited to see an “important” Pac 12 game scheduled for TV on a Friday night. Now, sharps and fans have soured on USC. Trojans couldn’t score a touchdown at Stanford, then fell apart in the second half last week at Texas. With all that, USC is still -4.5 vs. Washington State! That tells you what sharps think of the Cougars this year. Early Wise Guy money was on USC at -3.5…pulling the line up to -4.5. Not a lot of passion for either team this season based on the sharps I’ve talked to.
SATURDAY MARQUEE MATCHUPS
STANFORD AT OREGON: Another disappointing week in terms of TV blockbusters. You know it’s bad if Stanford/Oregon is the prime-time game on ABC! I’ve picked out six games for us to look at. Stanford has largely stayed at -2 all week. You’ll see some lines at -1.5 out there. Oregon looked awful last week against San Jose State. Only “home dog” lovers are interested in taking a shot. Of course, Bryce Love’s status is up in the air. You can’t bet Stanford until you know he’s playing.
TCU AT TEXAS: An opener of TCU -3.5 was bet down to -3. Both teams were in big games last week. Texas impressed against USC. TCU was great in the stats, but allowed a couple of non-offensive touchdowns to lose by a dozen to Ohio State. Sharps do like the home dog with the hook…but not so much that the line has fallen below the field goal. We might see that before kickoff. With the Wise Guys I’ve talked to, there’s more interest in Texas than TCU here. Quants bet the Over/Under down from 51.5 to 47.5.
GEORGIA AT MISSOURI: Georgia is in the easier half of the SEC, and doesn’t have many real tests during the regular season. Bulldogs impressed as a road favorite at South Carolina awhile back. Here, an opener of -14.5 has held firm all week. Important, because 14 is a key number. No interest yet from sharp dog lovers! We’ll see how the public bets it on game day. Squares have lost some big money backing too many ranked college favorites lately. Over/Under is up from 61 to 65. Tells you the weather should be nice.
TEXAS A&M AT ALABAMA: Wow, it’s not often that a battle of ranked teams sees a point spread open as high as 27! Alabama has been crushing people. A&M hung tough with Clemson, but that was at home against a team figuring out who its quarterback is going to be. Alabama may be the best college team EVER in terms of overall team quality and scoreboard explosiveness. Market is certainly pricing them that way right now. Line has come down to Alabama -26 or -26.5 depending on where you shop.
WISCONSIN AT IOWA: Exactly like TCU/Texas in that a road favorite of -3.5 in a conference game was bet down to -3 because of interest in a competitive underdog. Vegas oddsmakers didn’t have Wisconsin as high in the national rankings as the optimistic pollsters did. But, EVERYONE misread last week’s BYU game to some degree. Wisconsin was exposed…and the line of -22 was way too high.
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Thanks for reading. Back with you Friday afternoon to talk about the rest of the NFL.