Rovell: UNC Cover Provides Huge Boost for Vegas, Sportsbooks Rooting for Nebraska

Rovell: UNC Cover Provides Huge Boost for Vegas, Sportsbooks Rooting for Nebraska article feature image
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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and quarterback Trevor Lawrence

We’ve got a contender for Sweat of the Year.

A bettor at the Westgate in Las Vegas bet $50,000 on the Clemson moneyline against North Carolina. The No. 1-ranked Tigers were -5000 to win the game, meaning that a winning wager paid out $1,000.

The bet was anything but “easy money.”

After hanging with Clemson all game, UNC got in the endzone with 1:19 left in the game. That made the score, 21-20, in favor of Clemson and North Carolina head coach Mack Brown elected to go for two and take the lead.

Brown’s bet didn’t pay off. But the 50K bettor’s did.

Let’s dive into the rest of the betting action from Saturday:


Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET

The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas reports that it just took a $23,000 play on Washington State to cover as 5.5-point underdogs against Utah.

According to our data, 59% of bettors are backing the Cougars as road underdogs.

Saturday, 7:20 p.m. ET

Ohio State at Nebraska is easily going to be the most-bet game of Week 5. According to our data, 24,000 bets have come in on the Big Ten showdown, with 66% of bettors taking the Buckeyes as 17-point favorites.

Saturday, 7:05 p.m. ET

Clemson (-27) escaped with a 21-20 win over UNC after the Tar Heels failed to make good on a 2-point conversion with a minute left.

Had the Heels won outright it would have been a gigantic result for sportsbooks, but UNC’s full-game and second-half cover was a big win for the bookmakers.

“It was a big swing,” John Murray of the Westgate SuperBook said. “We won on the game, but would have won considerably more if UNC pulled off the upset.”

Murray called the game the biggest decision of the day at the Westgate.

We tracked 10,782 bets on Clemson-UNC and 77% of the tickets and 83% of the money came in on the Tigers.

Saturday 3:17 p.m. ET

Just got word of a massive moneyline wager at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. A bettor threw down $50,000 on Clemson to beat North Carolina straight-up at -5000 odds. The wager would profit $1,000.

Saturday, 11:55 a.m. ET

Here are a few of the most lopsided markets at DraftKings:

  • 90% of the money is on Clemson to cover as 27-point favorites over UNC.
  • 90% of the bets are on Auburn (-9.5) against Mississippi State.
  • 89% of the money is on Iowa State to cover as 3-point favorites against Baylor.
  • 81% of the money is on Michigan State (-14) against Indiana.
  • 77% of the money is on Oklahoma to cover as 27-point favorites against Texas Tech.

Saturday, 11:45 a.m. ET

Here are the top-five games in terms of total bet volume according to William Hill:

  • Ohio State (-17) at Nebraska
  • Iowa State (-3) at Baylor
  • Northwestern at Wisconsin (-23.5)
  • Virginia at Notre Dame (-10.5)
  • Middle Tennessee State at Iowa (-24)

Saturday, 11:35 a.m. ET

Oklahoma has yet to be tested this season and bettors don’t think that the Sooners will have their hands full with Texas Tech this afternoon. Oklahoma is attracting 73% of the bets as 27-point favorites over the Red Raiders.

Saturday, 11:30 a.m. ET

The Westgate reports that its biggest bet this morning is on…Kansas. That’s right. A bettor will net $15,000 if the Jayhawks can cover as 16.5-point underdogs against TCU this morning.

Saturday, 10:25 a.m. ET

Northwestern (+24) is the biggest need for Circa Sports in Las Vegas, as they took a sizable wager on Wisconsin. The book says their second-biggest need is Miami of Ohio, who flipped from a 2.5-point favorite to 2.5-point home underdog against Buffalo. Western Kentucky is Circa’s No. 3 on the list as the Hilltoppers opened -3.5 but moved to +3 at home against UAB.

Saturday, 10:20 a.m. ET

One of the biggest in-game wagers we’ve seen this season came in at PointsBet last night. A bettor played $33,000 on Maryland +17.5 when the Terps went down, 14-0, to Penn State. The Nittany Lions won, 59-0.

Saturday, 10:15 a.m. ET

Betting is all about what have you done for me lately and if you need any proof of that, just look at UCLA. Chip Kelly’s team was down in the dumps after starting the season 0-3, but the Bruins came out of the woodwork last weekend, beating Washington State 67-63.

That game has seemingly flipped the public perception of the Bruins as 77% of the money at William Hill has come in on UCLA.

Saturday, 10 a.m. ET

The Big Ten is the story at the betting window so far. Ohio State at Nebraska and Northwestern at Wisconsin are the two most-bet games on the slate and you could probably guess which teams the sportsbooks will need to cover.

According to our data, 68% of the bets are on Ohio State (-17) to cover in Lincoln. Wisconsin is slightly less popular than the Buckeyes, but the Badgers are still getting 65% of the tickets as 24-point favorites against Northwestern.

And how about this. The three most lopsided games on the board as of 10 a.m. ET are:

  • Vanderbilt (-7) vs. Northern Illinois: The 0-3 Commodores are receiving 81% of the bets against the Huskies.
  • Clemson (-27.5) at UNC: Clemson has barely broken a sweat to start the season, so it’s no surprise the Tigers are getting 80% of the tickets, but UNC quarterback Sam Howell has the makings of a back-door cover artist.
  • Hawaii at Nevada (-2.5): Yep, the 10:30 p.m. showdown between Hawaii and Nevada is already generating a decent handle and it’s clear the Wolfpack will be the public side. Nevada is getting 80% of the bets as a short home favorite.

Thursday, 10:18 p.m. ET

Sides getting the highest percentage of the money at the 100+ William Hill US Sportsbooks as of Thursday evening:

  • 99% on Old Dominion (-3) vs East Carolina
  • 97% on Fresno State (-17) vs New Mexico State
  • 97% on Alabama (-38) vs Ole Miss
  • 95% on Vanderbilt (-6.5) vs NIU
  • 95% on UCF (-43) vs UConn
  • 95% on Texas A&M (-23) vs Arkansas
  • 94% on Michigan (-27.5) vs Rutgers

Thursday quick-hitters, 5:10 p.m. ET

Penn State at Maryland (Friday, 8 p.m. ET)

“We opened Penn State as an 8-point favorite and some sharp money brought us down to 6.5, so we actually need Penn State as one of our bigger decisions on Saturday,” said Circa’s Matt Lindeman. “I like Penn State here. The victory over Pitt is less ugly after we saw how Pitt took care of UCF and I think the Temple game proved that Maryland isn’t the team we saw for the first two weeks of the season.”

Iowa State at Baylor (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

I love the models our own Collin Wilson does, so I’ve made a practice of looking at areas where there’s a big discrepancy between his projections and the marketplace. So the Iowa State-Baylor over/under this week caught me off guard. The market is at 55.5. Collin’s model makes the total 70.4.

I called him up and asked why. While it’s early in season, Collin says it’s because both teams average more than 7.5 yards per offensive play. Is it a hole in the model? “No, I like the over here,” Wilson said.

Speaking of the Cyclones-Bears matchup, Iowa State-Baylor is the most lopsided game of the week for DraftKings, with 98 percent of the handle on the Cyclones. One of the reasons? They took a $53,500 on Iowa State (-2.5).

Houston at North Texas (Saturday, 8 p.m.) 

The biggest move of the week is undoubtedly Houston-North Texas. The Cougars opened as 3-point favorites. That was until Houston QB D’Eriq King decided to sit, which leaves Houston coach Dana Holgerson with one guy on his roster who has thrown a pass in a game … his son Logan.

The spread now? North Texas -7.

Rutgers at Michigan (Saturday, noon ET)

Michigan is a 28-point favorite against Rutgers, which has changed its ways against huge spreads. From 2014-16, Rutgers was 1-8 as an underdog against spreads of more than 20 or more. Since then? 8-3.

One serious note: The overall national handle for this game will be down because the Scarlet Knights are not allowed to be on the board in Vegas East, otherwise known as New Jersey.

One not-so-serious note: I’m happy to report that Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is still open for business in Ann Arbor. It was nearly three years ago that the steak establishment offered to discount its food based on how badly Michigan beat Rutgers. If the Wolverines won by 20, it would be 20%. Well, Michigan won 78-0. Luckily for the restaurant, it set the max discount at 50%. The promotion ran from that Sunday through Thursday. Reservations, of course, were completely booked in hours.


Tuesday, 8:25 p.m. ET

The New Jersey sportsbook PointsBet took a $5,000 bet on Michigan to win the Big Ten Championship at 10-1 odds. The wager, which would profit $50,000, comes on the heels of the Wolverines’ embarrassing performance at Wisconsin, in which they lost 35-14.

Michigan has failed to cover the spread in seven straight games. The game against Wisconsin was the Wolverines’ second-worst loss against the spread as an underdog in the last five years, failing to cover by 17.5 points. (It only ranks behind a 2017 loss at Penn State, when Michigan was 9-point underdogs and lost by 29.)

Michigan is currently the fourth-favorite to win the conference at PointsBet, behind Ohio State (+110), Wisconsin (+250) and Penn State (8-1).

The Wolverines’ upcoming schedule features home games against Iowa, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State, along with a road challenge at Penn State.

Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. ET

The early returns suggest that Ohio State-Nebraska will be a big decision for the sportsbooks. Not only is it the game with the most tickets, per Sports Insights, but the action is lopsided.

Considering the hype they came into the season with, you’d have guessed that the Cornhuskers would be a trendy, short underdog in this game. In fact, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas had this matchup lined at Ohio State -6 in their Game of the Year odds back on July 14. Not so fast.


All odds below as of Tuesday morning and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).


Nebraska has failed to live up to expectations through the first four weeks, losing to Colorado, struggling to put away South Alabama and barely getting by Illinois. The Huskers are 1-3 Against the Spread (ATS) in 2019.

Ohio State was ranked No. 5 in the preseason AP Poll but there were plenty of questions surrounding the Buckeyes heading into 2019 without Urban Meyer in charge. The Buckeyes haven’t missed a beat under Ryan Day, going 4-0 straight up and 3-1 ATS while averaging 53.5 points per game.

The narrative surrounding these two teams has completely flipped and that has driven this line to Ohio State -17.5 and bettors are still flocking to the Buckeyes. According to our data, 79% of the nearly 3,000 bets on this game across the market have come in on Ohio State.

That likely means sportsbooks will be rooting on the Cornhuskers to cover the 17.5-point spread on Saturday.

History isn’t on their side. This is only the fourth time Nebraska has been a double-digit home underdog since 2005, the Huskers are 0-4 ATS in those games, failing to cover by 14.8 points per contest.

Here are some other Week 5 games with lopsided action that have caught our eye (data current as of 4:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday):

  • 99% on UCF covering an enormous 43-point spread against UConn
  • 97% on Over on total of 60 for Penn State-Maryland
  • 97% on Over on total of 46 for Wisconsin-Northwestern
  • 97% on Iowa State covering as 3-point favorites over Baylor
  • 97% on SMU covering 8.5-point favorites over USF
  • 95% on Oklahoma covering as 27-point favorites over Texas Tech
  • 94% on Iowa as 24-point favorites over Middle Tennessee State
  • 93% on Clemson as 23-point favorites over UNC
  • 92% on Over on total of 72 on Texas Tech-Oklahoma

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