Rovell’s Saturday Betting Blog: Underdogs Helped Sportsbooks Clean Up

Rovell’s Saturday Betting Blog: Underdogs Helped Sportsbooks Clean Up article feature image
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Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: MTSU QB Asher O’Hara

  • Darren Rovell is working the phones with bookmakers across the country to find out what games are attracting big bets, sharp action and public love.
  • Sharps at Circa Sportsbook are getting down on FCS games, while the public is all over Ohio State, Illinois and Tennessee.

The first college football Saturday of the season is here — and with sports betting now live in 12 states across the country, we have more big bets flowing in than ever before.

We’ll track all of the action here, with the most recent nuggets at the top.


  • 11:09 p.m. ET: Two Middle Tennessee State bettors are getting paid big bucks tonight at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, as Middle Tennessee State covered as 36.5-point underdogs. One bettor, who plunked down $25K on MTSU, will net $22,727. Another put down $12K and will net $10,000.
  • 11:00 p.m. ET: Most popular favorites today at the 100+ William Hill SportsBooks: Ohio State, 28-point favorites, got 96% of the money and did not cover. Tennessee, 26-point favorites, got 95% of the money and lost outright. Michigan, 36.5-point favorites, got 95% of the money and did not cover. Illinois, 18-point favorites, got 95% of the money, did ACTUALLY cover. Nebraska, 35-point favorites, got 88% of the money, did not cover.
  • 8 p.m. ET: PointsBet CEO Johnny Aitken said they are returning all bets on Northwestern +6 in the form of bonus refunds (New Jersey only) as part of their Good Karma Payout promotion. “That ending was a genuine 0.1% chance to happen, the Kommittee can’t have bettors going home empty handed. It’s our duty to enact a Good Karma Payout,” Aitken said. A PointsBet USA spokesperson said the Northwestern refund, which will be credited to NJ customers who bet Northwestern +6 before the game, “will be well into the five figures.”
  • 7:45 p.m. ET: Northwestern (+6) bettors, I’m so sorry. It’s only Week 1 and we have a legitimate contender for “Bad Beat of the Season.” Just watch:

  • 7 p.m. ET: We have our first huge upset of the season as Georgia State (+26, +1160) defeated Tennessee on the road. Plenty of bettors across the country were on the Vols, our data tracked 76% of the bets on Tennessee -26, but there was this carnage:

Georgia State’s win also kept alive a ridiculous two-leg parlay at Circa Sports:

  • 2:20 p.m. ET: PointsBet took a $20,000 in-game bet on Toledo when it was tied with Kentucky at 14.
  • 1:54 p.m. ET: Cantor took two five-figure bets on some marquee afternoon/evening games: $11,000 to profit $10,000 on Alabama -33.5 over Duke and $11,000 to profit $10,000o on Texas -20.5 over Louisiana Tech.
  • 11 a.m. ET: The Illinois-Akron game continues to come up at every sportsbook. The people at PointsBet say they have a significant amount of parlays with the Illinois moneyline (-925) involved.
  • 10:35 a.m. ET:Apple CEO Tim Cook was just on “College Gameday.” Cook, who went to Auburn for his undergrad, said he would bet Nike chairman Phil Knight, whose Oregon team is playing Cook’s Tigers, a bottle of wine on the game. Cook, who is on Nike’s board, is worth more than $700 million. Knight is $34.6 billion, which is good for the 23rd richest person in the world, according to Forbes. Better be a good bottle of wine!
  • 10:15 a.m. ET: One of the biggest games of the week as far as major action goes is Illinois vs Akron. That’s because the famous “Duffle Bag Bettor” dropped $55,000 to net $50,000 on Illini covering a 17-point spread against the Zips at an MGM book earlier this week. Then two more bets, this time into Cantor Gaming in Vegas, a $55,000 bet at -17 on Illinois and another one the next day at $55,000 on -18. We don’t know if the final two are from the “Duffle Bag.” The game between the two teams, who were both 4-8 last year, is holding at -18. According to Tony DiTommasso at CG, they need Akron more than any other team so far this morning. Maybe those big bets made sense…According to data from William Hill, from their more than 100 sportsbooks in New Jersey, Nevada, West Virginia and Iowa, 95% of the money on the game is for Illinois to cover (-18). Only two other games have that type of confidence with the public — Ohio State to cover over FAU (96 percent of the money and Tennessee (-26 over Georgia State).
  • 10:05 a.m. ET: While the public focuses on the big FBS games and names, Circa’s Matt Lindeman sounded exhausted early on this morning before breakfast time in Vegas. “Battling the sharps on FCS games right now. The market just opened this morning for it and it’s incredibly immature so you see some big early season moves.” The biggest moves? Lehigh from +6 to +1 (vs St. Francis) and Furman -18.5 to -24 (against Charleston Southern) both in about a 20 minute span.
  • 10 a.m. ET: Here are the biggest point spreads as of 10 a.m. ET, via DraftKings:
    -42: Baylor over Stephen F. Austin
    -39: Marshall over VMI
    -35.5: Nebraska over South Alabama
    -35: Michigan over Middle Tennessee State
    -33: Washington State over New Mexico State
    -33: Alabama over Duke