Prior to the start of each season, college football fans and bookmakers alike circle certain games. Alabama-Auburn, Ohio State-Michigan, Texas-Oklahoma and, of course, Southern Utah at Oregon State.
“We took a very large bet from one of our well-known house players on Oregon State to go under 2.5 -130,” said John Murray, Manager at the Westgate Superbook. “Oregon State hosts Southern Utah on Sept. 8. We really need them to win that game or getting to three wins could be tough considering they have nine conference games and a trip to Ohio State in Week 1.”
That’s the nature of the beast for bookmakers. Before the start of every season, sportsbooks have to deal with a curveball. Out of nowhere they’ll take a bet they just didn’t see coming.
“We had one guy fly in just to drop $40,000 on West Virginia over 7,” said Tim Fitzgerald, longtime South Point Sports Book Supervisor.
Why West Virginia?
“Because that’s their team.”
That is the most common answer and is one that books can’t prepare for. Seriously, who would have guessed that the Oregon State and Kansas State win totals would attract so much action?
“Those are our two biggest decisions right now,” Murray added.
It’s worth noting that no other significant sportsbook in town even listed Oregon State’s total, and this particular wager pushed the juice all the way to -180.
Once he took a closer look at the play, Murray admitted that the book is in a vulnerable spot.
So, just like that, thanks to one specific bettor, the Oregon State-Southern Utah game — one that will likely be overlooked by almost everybody else — could end up being one of the most important games for the Westgate this season.
Another huge game for the Westgate? Mississippi State at Kansas State in Week 2.
“We took some big money on the K-State over 6.5 wins,” Murray said. “They face a very difficult conference road schedule with trips to West Virginia, Oklahoma and TCU. The Big 12 is always very competitive top to bottom, and that Week 2 home game against Mississippi State should be a big swing for the Wildcats.”
Murray also noted that the South Carolina over 7 (-150 at the time of writing) is seeing heavy action.
It’s easy to know that perennial powers like Alabama and Ohio State along with trendy teams like Michigan State — which is the it team in the Big Ten this season — will attract bettors.
But the fact that Oregon State vs. Southern Utah will end up being one of the biggest games of the season? Nobody — not even the wiseguys — could have seen that coming.