I don’t know about you, but after re-watching last year’s national championship game for the ninth time, I’ve finally started to get a little bored by it.
Thankfully, this weekend we actually have live college football on our TVs (yes, I know it started last week but let’s be honest, Week 0 was an absolute dud).
Of course, if you’re watching college football on Saturday, there’s a good chance you’re betting on it. And if you’re betting on it, you might also be curious to know which bets sharps are making.
“Sharps” are bettors with long track records of consistent success. And when I say long, I’m talking several years — decades even.
When a sharp places a bet, books take notice, and often adjust their lines as a result.
By tracking those line moves, we can determine which bets sharps are making, assuming we have a few more bits of information — which we do.
The tools at Sports Insights and The Action Network allow us to track each time a wager comes in that changes the market price of a given bet (this is called a steam move). We also track the percentage of tickets being placed on each side of a bet, as well as the percentage of actual dollars.
Comparing those figures to the line movement is one of the easiest and most effective ways to locate sharp action.
All right, enough of my blabbering. Let’s dive into the best sharps are making for Week 1 of the college football season.
All games Saturday, Sept. 1
>> All odds as of Friday at 9 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAF odds and track your bets.
Washington State at Wyoming
3:30 p.m. ET
Sharp angle: Wyoming +1
When this game opened, Washington State was as much as a four-point favorite at BetOnline. Now some books have this line at a pick’em as a result of all the sharp money that’s come in on Wyoming, although the consensus line seems to be Washington State -1.
Our software has picked up on five steam moves on the Cowboys, which explains the drastic line movement.
They’ve also received 73% of the money wagered on this game despite only 58% of total bets, which means that bigger-money bets are coming on Wyoming.
Since sharps bet more than the large majority of casual bettors, it’s safe to assume that the higher money percentage is another indication of sharp action.
UNLV at USC
4 p.m ET
Sharp angle: Over 63.5
Only 45% of bettors have taken the over in this one, yet the total has risen from 60 to 63.5. Why would that be? You guessed it: Because respected bettors (sharps) are part of that 45%.
Sure enough, a look at the money percentages helps to confirm just that.
Those 45% of bets on the over make up 66% of the total money being wagered on this total, indicating that bigger — likely sharper — bets are taking the over.
We’ve also tracked two steam moves on the over, meaning that on at least two occasions, a single bet caused the line to rise across the entire market.
Boise State at Troy
6 p.m. ET
Sharp angle: Troy +10
Similar to the UNLV-USC total, this line has moved away the side getting the majority of betting tickets — this is called reverse line movement — making it easy to locate the sharp side.
Troy opened at +10.5, and has received only 46% of bets to this point. If anything, you’d think this line would move to +11, but the opposite has happened.
The Trojans have received 65% of the money wagered on this game, drawn three steam moves and are now listed at +10.
Louisiana Tech at South Alabama
7 p.m. ET
Sharp angle: South Alabama +10
Generally, when a team gets more than 80% of bets in one of the least-bet games on a Saturday slate, books will adjust the line simply to decrease their liability on that team. But that hasn’t been the case with this game.
Louisiana Tech has attracted 83% of bets to this point, but this line won’t budge from -10 … because sharps are keeping it there.
Despite the fact that only 17% of bets have landed on South Alabama, the Jags have drawn 53% of dollars wagered on this game — not to mention the four steam moves that also have come in on them.
Louisville vs. Alabama
8 p.m. ET
Sharp angle: Over 62
This total opened all the way down at 53.5 at some books. Clearly it’s come up quite a bit from that number, and sharp bettors are to thank for that.
Like in the case of the WSU-Wyoming matchup, the sharp play is the more popular bet in this game — 64% of bettors are behind the over. The reason we can definitively call it the sharp side has to do with the actual dollar percentage, as well as the number of steam moves it’s drawn.
Seventy-five percent of dollars are on the over, which again means that bigger, likely sharper, wagers are behind it.
We’ve also tracked five steam moves on the over, meaning there were at least five times that wagers moved this line across the entire market.
And I promise bookmakers aren’t adjusting the over/under just for the hell of it. These market-wide line moves are coming from sharp bettors.