College Football Sharp Report: How Pros Are Betting Pitt vs. Virginia
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Bryce Perkins and Rashad Weaver
- Sharp bettors have had plenty of time to shape lines for Saturday's college football Week 1 games.
- Among the games they've hit hardest: Alabama vs. Duke (3:30, ABC), Virginia vs. Pitt (7:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network) and Ole Miss vs. Memphis (12 p.m. ET, ABC).
After easing into the 2019 college football season over the past week, we’ve finally got a full Saturday slate in front of us. Bettors — specifically sharp ones — have been eyeing the slate for weeks (if not months) at this point.
That makes dissecting Week 1’s line moves all the more interesting.
Six games in particular have been targeted by wiseguys, drawing professional action throughout the summer and as recently as Friday.
Odds below are as of 5 p.m. ET on Friday.
Toledo @ Kentucky
12 p.m. ET | SEC Network
With 75% of bettors taking the Toledo-Kentucky under, it’s on pace to be the second-most popular under of Saturday’s slate, trailing only South Carolina-UNC. And as you probably already know, bettors tend to prefer taking overs to unders, so this level of under support is somewhat unusual.
Oddsmakers are also well aware of the public’s love for overs, so when they set a line that draws so much under action, it’s certainly possible that they intended for it — meaning there might be value on the over.
Well, if the professional action on this total is any indication, that seems to be exactly the case.
After opening at 58/59, oddsmakers have brought this number past the 60-point mark up to 62 despite the over’s lack of popularity. Sports Insights’ Bet Signals — which track and record instances of market moves based on sharp action — have triggered three steam moves and one reverse line move on the over, revealing sharp money hitting it at lines ranging from 58.5 to 62.
Also pointing toward the over being the sharp side has been the discrepancy between bets and actual money. The over’s 25% backing has accounted for 62% of actual money, meaning it’s drawing much bigger bettors — ones more likely to be sharps.
Sharp angle: Over (moved from 58 to 62)
Ole Miss @ Memphis
12 p.m. ET | ABC
This over/under betting split is a little more like the norm. Seventy-eight percent of bettors are taking the over in Ole Miss-Memphis on a total that opened at 68. Now, however, that total is down to 65.
The quarter of bets that have landed on the under have made up for an impressive 74% of actual money being wagered on the total, which, again, is a pretty good indication of sharp action.
Seven SI Bet Signals confirm that indication, as they’ve tracked sharps hitting the under throughout the entire line fall, most recently at 66.
Sharp angle: Under (moved from 68 to 65)
Mississippi State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
12 p.m. ET | ESPNU
For the time being, this doesn’t have the looks of a classic pros-vs.-Joes matchup, as 60% of bettors are backing the Ragin’ Cajuns. My gut tells me that Mississippi State will take over that majority by kickoff, but even if it doesn’t, there’s no rule that says sharps can’t agree with the public.
Louisiana has gone from +22.5 to +19 — a move that probably wouldn’t come simply as a result of a 60% backing. Of course, it’s a different story if sharps are in the mix.
Those bettors have generated 70% of actual money, and more importantly, five Bet Signals have been triggered on Louisiana, meaning the line moves were a result of more than just a monetary liability.
Wiseguys hit the Cajuns at lines ranging from +22.5 to +20.5 to get the market to the current number.
Sharp angle: Louisiana-Lafayette (moved from +22.5 to +19)
East Carolina @ NC State
12 p.m. ET | ACC Network
A similar story is unfolding on this ECU-NC State total. While 62% of bettors are taking this under, they’ve generated a whopping 96% of money being wagered.
Once again, on top of creating the obvious monetary liability, that discrepancy has helped point out the sharp side, shedding light onto the line’s significant fall from 57.5 to 52.
Eight Bet Signals in total have been triggered on this under — three of which came on Friday alone. There’s been only one conflicting move on the over.
Sharp angle: Under (moved from 57.5 to 52)
Duke vs. Alabama
3:30 p.m. ET | ABC
Alabama’s opening point spread varied across the market as books opened this line anywhere from early June to early July. The earliest shops listed the Tide at -30.5, while later openers were already up at -32.5 — which is where the line currently sits.
But while the spread is being offered at the same number that was listed almost two months ago, don’t be fooled into thinking that the line has remained steady. A look at the full line history paired with The Action Network’s tools reveals that sharps have had plenty to do with shaping this number.
Heavy Alabama support got this line up to five full touchdowns (-35) as recently as early this week, but that was too high according to sharps. Five of the seven Duke Bet Signals we’ve tracked have come since Tuesday, with pros hitting the Blue Devils at lines down to +33.5.
Sharp angle: Duke (moved from +35 to +32.5)
Virginia @ Pittsburgh
7:30 p.m. ET | ACC Network
If you’ve been betting football for some time, you’re probably familiar with the importance of key numbers already. Because numbers like 3 and 7 are the most common margins of victory, a team at +3 is far more valuable than what it would be at +2.5.
As it relates to sharp betting, it’s not uncommon for pros to find value on a team at +3, but not at any lower numbers.
The Panthers opened as 2-point dogs against Virginia, but with 70% of bets and dollars on the Cavs, UVA was moved to a field-goal favorite. That’s when sharps decided there was value on Pitt.
Twelve SI Bet Signals have hit Pittsburgh, every single one of which came at +3. The Panthers now sit at +2.5 and don’t seem to be attracting any more professional action.
Of course, if books are forced to respond to the majority of the action they’re taking by moving back to UVA -3, don’t be surprised to see sharps pounce once again.
Sharp angle: Pittsburgh (moved from +3 to +2.5)