Week 12 Action Report: Pros and Joes Backing the Mountaineers vs. Oklahoma State
Rob Ferguson, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Pistol Pete
It’s been a great college football season for the Vegas sportsbooks but last Saturday was a different story.
“This Saturday was the first time this year the bettors got the best of us in College Football,” Tim Fitzgerald, a supervisor at the South Point Sportsbook said. “It was the highest handle Saturday of the year partially because of the bettors are coming off two strong week’s the last few weeks and there were some higher profile games.”
Nick Bogdanovich, the director of trading and sport at William Hill, concurred with Fitzgerald. “Our Saturday was definitely the worst college football day of the year but Sunday more than made up for it.”
Covers by public teams like Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame all hurt the bottom lines on the strip.
With that being said, last weekend is now firmly in the rear-view mirror and all eyes on the board for Week 12, which features few notable games but plenty of intriguing ones.
Notre Dame (-10) vs. Syracuse | Over/Under: 65.5
This is definitely the game getting the most attention around town this weekend. That isn’t really saying much, though, as the money seems pretty spread out so far.
“You know, I looked at this game on Wednesday and we already had money on Notre Dame at our opening line of -9 and then money on them at -10 and even at -10.5,” John Murray, director of the Westgate SuperBook said. “I was a little surprised about that. I’m a big fan of the Syracuse Coach Dino Babers. He’s done a remarkable job with this program and the QB Dungey has really impressed me. This seems like a big number and this could be a dangerous spot for the Irish. They’re right on the cusp on a Playoff bid and with this being a neutral field I think this could be a scary spot for them where it wouldn’t shock me if they trip up.”
Jason Simbal, sportsbook director at CG Technologies also was quick to move the Irish off of the opener and has seen a lot of money come in on the over/under as this game features two prolific offenses.
“Notre Dame opened -9 here and went up quickly to -10.5 but we really didn’t get much action at -10.5,” he explained. “At CG, we thought that number was a little too high so we went back to -10 and nobody has laid the 10 yet so that was probably the right number but now the action has gone a little cold. Syracuse bettors may be waiting for more public money to come in on the Irish to push the line back up again. But I can tell you that we’ll have just as much action on this total as we will the line.”
West Virginia (-5.5) at Oklahoma State | Over/Under: 74
West Virginia had a decisive win last week over TCU but there is concern that the Mountaineers will be looking ahead to the massive home game against Oklahoma next Friday. Some feel the line could be a little low considering the poor season Oklahoma State has had with recent bad losses to Baylor and Kansas State.
Even with the concerns over this being a potential trap game, both sharp and square bettors at CG Technologies’ properties are backing the Mountaineers.
“This is the game we talk about each week where the pros and joes are on the same side,” Simbal said. “The number here opened at -5 and dropped early to -4.5 and then shot all the way up to -6. I know a lot of people are looking at the spot here with Oklahoma State’s heartbreaker last week and now, seven days later having to play an equally as good West Virginia team is going to be tough.
“The public will see this as a solid spot since it’s less than a touchdown on a hot West Virginia team. They may feel like they have no choice but to take it. I definitely see this game as being our potentially biggest liability game of the day,” Simbal added.
Northwestern-Minnesota (-2) | Over/Under: 47.5
This game has seen some big line movement and Minnesota, which opened as a 3-point underdog, is now the favorite. The public doesn’t seem sure which way to go on this game. Northwestern is in the driver’s seat in the Big 10 West but it has nothing to really play for the next two weeks since they’ve locked up their side of the conference. Meanwhile, after firing its defensive coordinator a few weeks ago, Minnesota has responded with a solid defensive effort against Purdue.
“This is becoming a pros vs joes game.” Simbal said. “The sharps took +2.5 and +1.5 and PK with Minnesota which is why we flipped them to -1. I expect to see the public jump on Northwestern as an underdog especially because they’ve had such a strong record as a dog this season. Plus, I think the underdog has covered every Northwestern game so far.”
Cincinnati at UCF (-7) | Over/Under: 61
This is quietly one of the more important games of the day Saturday. With a win, Central Florida is in a position to run the table for a second year in a row.
The Knights do have a huge rivalry game next week at South Florida but they should have their hands full with a Cincinnati team that’s racked up an outstanding record this season at 9-1 with only a tough OT loss to a surprisingly good Temple team. If UCF isn’t careful, this game could unravel another perfect season.
“The number here is -7 and it opened at UCF -7.5,” Simbal noted. “We took two sharp bets on Cincinnati which pushed the line down to -7. It’s another pros vs joes game for sure. The ticket count was highly in favor of Central Florida. We wrote 65% of the tickets on UCF but more money is coming in on Cincinnati. I’m a little surprised that nobody has chimed in at 7 yet either way. But as we get closer to kickoff I expect to get more public action on the favorite.”
Other Key Liabilities
As far as key liabilities, Murray said the Westgate has taken big bets on Maryland +17 vs. Ohio State, UMass +44 and +43 at Georgia, Kansas +36.5 at Oklahoma and San Diego State +14.5 at Fresno State.