Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 1:00 PM
The “late-week” football schedule is quiet until the bowls. So, today’s report will focus on Thursday night NFL, Saturday’s Army/Navy game, and early betting in the most important bowl games that we’re all looking forward to. I’ll be back at the usual time Friday to run through the rest of this weekend’s NFL schedule.
JACKSONVILLE AT TENNESSEE: An opener of Tennessee -4 has been bet up to -5 or -5.5. depending on where you shop. We’re in the dead zone between the 3 and the 7, so there aren’t any “value” positions being taken in terms of key numbers. Sharps aren’t enthusiastic about Cody Kessler having an impact in place of Blake Bortles. Jacksonville couldn’t score a touchdown last week against Indianapolis. If the line keeps rising, some dog money would hit the Jags at +6 in what’s expected to be a defensive battle. The low opening total of 38 (very low for this season) has already come down to 37.5 from value bettors (38 is a relatively key number for totals, though nothing with Over/Unders is as strong as the 3 or 7). For now, sharps like Tennessee at -5 or less, and Under 38 (but not 37.5).
SATURDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL
ARMY VS. NAVY (in Philadelphia): Rare to see Army as the favorite here. Hasn’t happened since the beginning of the new century! Army enters with a two-game win streak in the rivalry, having scored upsets the past two seasons. The opener of Army -6.5 was bet up to the key number of -7, where it’s been painted all week. I would expect sharps to fade any move off the key number. Looks like more early interest on Army, so we might see a tug-of-war Saturday between Army -7 and Navy +7.5. Hard to know what the public will do here. Army’s not a team squares are used to laying points with! Big drop on the total from 44 to 40 because temperatures are supposed to be in the high 20’s.
ALABAMA VS. OKLAHOMA (Orange Bowl, Miami): Early support for Alabama and the Over, with quants in particular assuming the Crimson Tide will put up huge offensive numbers against the soft Sooner defense. An opener of Alabama -13.5 was bet up to the key number of -14. The Over/Under of 79 was bet up to 81! Most sharps will wait until much closer to game day to get involved. Nobody wants to get nailed with bad injury news. I do think old-school Wise Guys will come in on Oklahoma if they see +14.5 or better. We’ll have to see if the public drives the total any higher. That’s possible with so many Oklahoma games shooting past this mark.
CLEMSON VS. NOTRE DAME (Cotton Bowl, Arlington TX): An opener of Clemson -11 has largely stood pat. Some stores have tested -11.5. Both quarterbacks have excelled down the stretch. Sharps will like taking double digits with this dog, though many have cashed Clemson tickets since the quarterback change. Tough to predict late betting here…because Notre Dame is enough of a public team that squares might go that way instead of laying points. I’m very interested to see how this one plays out.
NEW YEAR’S BOWLS
MISSISSIPPI STATE VS. IOWA (Outback Bowl, Tampa): Nothing happening at all here, with the game still on the openers of Mississippi State -6 and 44.5. Weather or field conditions have been an issue in the past (game-day rain, sloppy turf). Sharps would rather wait to see what they’re dealing with, as the game went up in line with Wise Guy power ratings.
PENN STATE VS. KENTUCKY (Citrus Bowl, Orlando): A slight correction on the opener of Penn State -5.5. It’s now painted -6. Kentucky is one of only two SEC teams that are underdogs in the bowls (along with Florida against Michigan). Also a game where smart bettors will wait until late to monitor weather and field conditions. Current total is 48.
LSU VS. CENTRAL FLORIDA (Fiesta Bowl, Glendale AZ): Early interest on the dog, which is a big deal because lines usually rise rather than sink out of the gate. Dog lovers are prone to wait, while any sharp gradings toward the favorite should be bet early to get in before the public. Yet, this one dropped from LSU -8 down to LSU -7.5. Everyone remembers UCF upsetting Auburn last year. Similar dynamic with an undefeated, disrespected dog in position to make a statement against an SEC foe that might not be as motivated. So far, the UCF backup quarterback has played well. I think it’s important that dog lovers didn’t want to wait here. They took +8 in case there was a feeding frenzy from other sharps on this dog.
OHIO STATE VS. WASHINGTON (Rose Bowl, Pasadena): An opener of Ohio State -5 has been bet up to -6 or -6.5. Urban Meyer announced he was retiring after this game. Many bettors assume that will lead to an emotional performance from his players. This is a coach with a great ATS record with a lot of preparation time anyway. Washington has been a huge disappointment out West. It couldn’t even score an offensive touchdown vs. Utah in the Pac 12 Championship game. I’d expect “defensive dog” money at +7. Will the public drive the line even higher than seven?
GEORGIA VS. TEXAS (Sugar Bowl, New Orleans) Texas faded badly in the fourth quarter vs. Oklahoma, while Georgia looked GREAT for all but the final minutes vs. Alabama. That led to a high opener of Georgia -10.5 that was bet UP to Georgia -11. I think it will sit here for awhile, pending any news about injury or suspension news about key players. Old school sharps will have a lot of talented underdogs to look at in the big games this postseason.
I’ll update betting in those games at the end of the month. In the meantime, I’ll definitely have something for my clients this weekend in both football and college basketball. You can purchase my daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155.
I’lll see you at the usual time Friday afternoon to go through the rest of the NFL. There’s a lot of buzz about the Sunday night game matching the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears. This will likely be the most heavily bet NFL regular season game to this point in the season. A lot of “California” money showing up this season because the Rams are so good. Vegas is full of transplanted Chicagoans, including many in local media. Looking forward to talking about that and the rest of the ticket with you tomorrow afternoon.