Derek E. Hingle, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Joe Burrow
- The two biggest games in college football this weekend are LSU vs. Florida and Oklahoma vs. Texas.
- While those two games will likely attract the most bets, sharps are betting Syracuse at Pittsburgh and Auburn at Mississippi State.
There are two marquee college football games this weekend, LSU at Florida and the Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma. While those games will likely end up being the most popularly bet games of the day, each Vegas sportsbook seems to have interesting action on a variety of college football games.
For example, looking back at last week’s unusual bets, we all know our friend Duffel Bag Boy took a bath on taking Indiana -17 over Rutgers.
“There’s nothing like a 9 a.m. Saturday game being the biggest decision of the day. We felt like we were free-rolling the rest of Saturday!” Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill, said.
The South Point’s biggest loser last week, according to sportsbook supervisor Tim Fitzgerald, was the Georgia St.-Louisiana-Monroe game.
“Monroe opened as an 8-point favorite,” Fitzgerald said. “And we didn’t get an ounce of action on them. It was all Georgia State money. It wasn’t a huge hit, but it was still enough for us to notice. You just never know.”
This week’s betting picture is starting to take shape, although there’s been no Duffel Bag Boy sighting yet.
Syracuse, fresh off giving Clemson a real scare in Death Valley, travels to Pittsburgh as a road favorite. You’d think people would be backing ‘Cuse after a great showing in a high-profile game, but bettors are expecting a letdown.
“People appear to be thinking Syracuse could have a bit of a letdown here coming off their heartbreaking loss last week,” Jason Simbal, sportsbook director at CG Technologies, explained. “The game opened at Syracuse -5, and now it’s down to -3 here (it’s still -3.5 at most other books around town currently).
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“Bettors were all over Pitt early. They took the +5 right out of the gate, then they hit +4 then +3.5. We’ve taken six big limit bets on Pitt so far. Nobody seems even to want Syracuse at -3. We currently have a pretty big liability on the Orangemen and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this number goes down even further,” Simbal said.
Interestingly, William Hill reports that the majority of the money bet there is on Syracuse.
Some of the other games that may fly under the radar in the national scene but are attracting big money bets are: Western Michigan -3.5 over Eastern Michigan, San Diego State +14.5 at Boise St., Fresno St. -11.5 at Nevada, Kansas +28.5 at West Virginia and Texas State +3.5 at home vs Louisiana-Lafayatte.
As for the big games, the Westgate saw professional money come in fast on the Florida-LSU game, but there’s been some Tigers money, too.
“The line opened at LSU -3, and we immediately got a large wager on Florida at +3 from someone whose opinion we respect,” SuperBook supervisor Derek Wilkinson said. “We’ve since taken some wagers on the other side and we currently need the Gators. I think the line could be -2 or even -1.5 by kickoff. The smart money definitely seems to be leaning toward Florida.”
Similar betting patterns are popping up at CG for that game.
“Even though it’s a low total at (43.5 currently), it looks like our Game of the Week,” Simbal said. “We’re getting good two-way action. We have LSU at -2.5 but it’s as low as -1.5 around town already and we’re seeing Florida money line bets currently at +115 too. That puts us in a great spot with a nice middle for us. We expect to see both sides getting heavy betting all day Friday and Saturday.”
At William Hill, they say that while 75% of the tickets written are on LSU, 67% of the money being bet is on Florida.
Another SEC showdown could also be a make-or-break result for the CG books. Simbal expects to have a pretty clear sharps vs. squares game when Mississippi State hosts Auburn.
“After what happened to Mississippi State last week versus Florida, people seem to be steering clear of them. We opened Auburn -4, and while the line is holding here (It’s currently at -3.5 all over town), we’re getting four times more tickets and five times more money on Auburn,” Simbal said. “This is one where I think the public will primarily come in on Auburn because of the Bulldogs’ weak loss to Florida. And with Auburn only laying a small number, it’s going to be very appealing to the bettors. I wouldn’t be shocked if this was one of our bigger decisions of the day.”
While the Westgate is seeing two-way action on that game and has a little bit of liability on Mississippi State, William Hill sees it more like CG does. Auburn is currently getting 75% of the money bet on that game.
Finally, the biggest money discrepancy for CG Technologies is on the Pac-12 battle between Cal and Arizona. For the second week in a row, a lot of professional money has come down on the Golden Bears and could make this the outfit’s biggest decision.
“This has been a big mover with all the sharp money on Cal,” Simbal said. “The ticket count actually isn’t that big of a discrepancy. But the money has been huge here. We’re at something like 400-1 on the money wagered here.”