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Rovell’s College Football Week 1 Vegas Report: Duffle Bag Boy Is Smashing Illinois

Rovell’s College Football Week 1 Vegas Report: Duffle Bag Boy Is Smashing Illinois article feature image

Tommy Gilligan, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Lovie Smith

  • Darren Rovell spoke with bookmakers around the country about Week 1 of the College Football season.
  • A deep-pocketed bettor who goes by the moniker "Duffle Bag Boy" bet $50,000 on Illinois to cover against Akron three separate times.

Happy Week 1 everybody. Although the college football season officially started last weekend with a pair of games, the 2019 campaign starts in earnest starting on Thursday night.

Plenty of people will be talking up Thursday’s Utah-BYU game or Clemson’s season opener against Georgia Tech, but the game that is actually drawing the most attention from bookmakers in Vegas is not what you’d call a marquee matchup.

What Is The Deal?

Believe it or not, but the most intriguing game this weekend, from a betting market perspective at least, is Akron at Illinois (-18) on Saturday afternoon. The famous “Duffle Bag” bettor was reported by Covers to have dropped $55,000 to net $50,000 on Illinois to cover the 17-point spread against the Zips. Then, we heard from Cantor Gaming that the same bet was placed at their shop twice (once at -17 and once at -18).

Were Cantor’s two also from the infamous bettor? Cantor’s Tony DiTommaso said he couldn’t say whether the two bets his sportsbook took were from the same bettor or if it was related to a “Duffle Bag,” but he was willing to say “he’s a regular with us.”

From a public standpoint, the thought is: Why would anyone throw that type of dough down on Lovie Smith, whose teams have won 9 of 36 games in three seasons?

Phil Steele tells us that the Illini have actually won 21 straight home openers by an average of 24 points and in their four wins last year, they actually put up a ton of points (39.5 point per game average). But they’ve also only been favorites in 12 out of the last 50 games (24%) and covered 7 out of 12 (58%).

Their most impressive cover was as a 33-point favorite over Murray State in the 2016 season opener. They won by 49 (52-3).

Last year, the two teams had one common opponent: Northwestern. Illinois lost to the Wildcats by 8. Akron bested Northwestern by 5.

Action Or No Action?

If you bet on Florida State to cover the 4.5-point spread, do you still get that bet now that Hurricane Dorian is changing the game versus Boise State from a night game in Jacksonville to a day game at home in Tallahassee? Well, it depends on what the fine print is at the sportsbook that you bet.

At Circa in Vegas, for example, there’s no action based on mileage, of all things. Oddsmaker Matt Lindeman tells us that, in order for there to be action, a change in location for a game has to be within 100 miles of the original location. Jacksonville to Tallahassee? 164 miles. Lindeman said the policy was made last year after the Virginia-Ohio game, which was moved from Charlottesville to Nashville.

A DraftKings representative said that because of policy, all FSU game bets made prior to the location change will be voided. PointsBet’s Matt Chaprales says all bets will stand. As a result of taking away a home game, oddsmakers gave the Bobcats 3.5 fewer points on the spread. Florida State was a 4.5-point favorite when the game was in Jacksonville. They are now at -6.5 in most places.

Biggest Spreads Of The Week

The two biggest spreads for Week 1, at the time of writing, are Buffalo (-48.5) over Robert Morris and UCF (-48.5) over Florida A&M.

UCF is 15-5-1 as a double-digit favorite over the last three seasons, but in games where they are 35+ point favorites, they are 1-3.

How bad is Robert Morris? Well, they return the bulk of their offense and defense coming off a 2-9 season. But this is also the first FBS game in their history. On the flip side? Sure, Buffalo was 10-4 last season, but gone is their QB Tyree Jackson and their two top receivers, Anthony Johnson and KJ Osborn. Saving the day is Jared Patterson and Kevin Marks, their top two rushers who combined for nearly 2,000 yards last season.

But are big favorites, in general, a good bet?

Favorites of 42 points or more are just 30-57-1 (34.5%) ATS since 2016, according to our BetLabs database.

Hot Game Of The Week

Having “The Holy War” in Week 1 is like having Daytona 500 in NASCAR’s first week. The public wants to get invested in this early high-profile game. The game opened with Utah, who has been the winner of the last eight installments of this in-state rivalry, as a 4.5-point favorite on the road in Provo.

It’s now up to 6 or 6.5, depending on where you get it. Per Sports Insights, the Utes are attracting 66% of the bets as of Thursday afternoon, which comes as no surprise as they came into the season with plenty of hype and were picked by many college insiders to win the Pac-12.

PointsBet is interested in an outright loss by BYU on Thursday night. It took a $200 bet at 500-1 for the Cougars to win the National Championship.

Most Valuable Player

What player accounts for the most points for his this year? Circa’s Lindeman thinks it’s the quarterbacks — Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama, Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez, Michigan’s Shea Patterson and Justin Herbert of Oregon.

Who’s Getting Paid?

Home opener cupcakes are always a theme. So who is paying whom the most money?

  • $1.9 million: Auburn paying Tulane
  • $1.6 Million: Michigan paying Middle Tennessee State
  • $1.45 Million: Penn State paying Idaho
  • $1.2 Million: Nebraska paying South Alabama
  • $1.2 Million: Iowa paying Miami U (Ohio)
  • $1.1 Million: Illinois paying Akron

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