Marvin Gentry, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa
- Most Saturdays, sportsbooks in Las Vegas are rooting against Alabama, considering how popular the Crimson Tide are with bettors.
- This week, bettors seem to be backing Missouri (+28) against 'Bama, putting bookmakers in a peculiar spot.
LAS VEGAS — After a fairly unimpressive week last week in college football that was overshadowed by baseball playoffs and a huge UFC card here in Vegas, most of this Saturday’s action will be focused on some very interesting College Football Week 7 matchups.
A few key games with national-championship implications are on the schedule, and that has a created a little buzz around the Vegas sports books. Here are a few key games attracting some sharp and public action.
Wisconsin at Michigan (-9.5)
7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
According to supervisor Cameron Coombs, the Westgate Sportsbook is seeing some of the biggest action on the Wisconsin-Michigan game, which has seen a huge jump in the line from an opening of Michigan -6.5 up to -9.5 in most spots around town.
“This is the game we’re seeing the most action on as of now here. It looks like we’re going to need Wisconsin the way the money has come in on Michigan,” Coombs explained. “The line has really steamed up over the last few days. We have heavy bets ranging from Michigan -7 up to -9.5. This line might go even higher with very little Badger money coming in at the moment.”
After the Badgers’ fairly decisive win over Nebraska last week and Michigan’s walkover victory against Maryland, it shouldn’t surprise you to see more balanced betting on this game.
CG Technologies’ Jason Simbal is seeing that play out a little more at its properties. “We opened Michigan -7.5 and had to go to -8 right away after a big limit bet,” Simbal said.
“And then the line even went to -8.5 with another big limit bet, then we even had to go to -9 with another big bet. But what’s most interesting on this game is that while the big money is coming on Michigan, the number of tickets written is fairly even; in fact there’s a few more towards Wisconsin last I checked.
Simbal said he interprets that to mean that the public believes these two teams should not be separated by nine points.
“I foresee the public being heavy on Wisconsin as we get closer to kickoff,” Simbal added. “I can also see people taking Wisconsin on the money line at +300. This is one of those unique scenarios where the public will be on the dog and the sharps [will be] on the favorite. This isn’t something you see often in a given season.”
A very interesting betting pattern is developing at William Hill as well. According to current numbers there, 55% of the money wagered is coming in on Wisconsin. However, a whopping 83% of the tickets written have been on Michigan. Very difficult to interpret that.
Missouri at Alabama (-28)
7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Believe it or not, the action is coming in on Missouri at the Westgate, but the bookmakers there aren’t worried — yet.
“We have tried to stay on the high side of this game,” Coombs said. “As of now we actually need ‘Bama to cover the 28-point spread. But I’m sure as we get closer to kickoff we’ll see nothing but Alabama in the next couple of days. This will likely balance out. Just not yet.”
Alabama has been covered twice the past two weeks after building up huge leads heading into the fourth quarter, so that may be keeping the usual flock of ‘Bama backers off another big spread.
“I don’t know how you can bet these games,” Simbal explained. “I would never be comfortable putting my hard earned-money against Alabama. They’re just so good and so talented. Realistically they are capable of covering any number you set. But the fact is they don’t need to.
“So if they’ve run the score up to 42-0 in the third quarter, how can you be comfortable you’re going to cash a ticket here? Alabama will then put in all the backups and then the score ends up at 42-21 and you don’t cover the game. So I wouldn’t comfortable betting either side, but it opened at -28 and went to -28.5 for a bit and then dropped back down to -28. There’s a little bit more action on Missouri than Alabama, but it’s still too tough to bet in my opinion,” Simbal added.
Another interesting scenario is arising at William Hill on this game as well. While 81% of the money wagered on the game is on Alabama, 62% of the tickets are on Missouri.
Nebraska at Northwestern (-3)
12 p.m. ET, ABC
Talk about games that have no rhyme or reason regarding why the lines are moving so much, check out the Nebraska- Northwestern game.
This game has seen some enormous line movement, and while there is at least a little speculation as to why, Nebraska continues to attract sharp money every week.
At the Westgate, supervisor Eric Osterman is really scratching his head here.
“Nebraska is the 2017 Cleveland Browns of college football,” Osterman said. “Everyone piles on them every week. I have no idea why. Last week the sharps pounded the Cornhuskers from -21 to -18 against Wisconsin and were rewarded for it, but the previous weeks they were blown out. This week we opened at Northwestern -8 and got bet heavily down to -3.5. It has since gone back up a bit to -4.5, but it’s absolutely crazy. The sharps take Nebraska every week no matter who they play. And honestly we expect to only see more Nebraska money as we approach game time.”
CG Technologies is seeing the same rush to the window from early Nebraska bettors. Simbal has no answers, either.
“Maybe there are people out there that understand this, but I don’t think I’m one of them,” he said. “This line got bet down here to -3.5 as well. But maybe it was a set-up, because at least at our location the sharps immediately laid the 3.5 and then 4 and pushed the line back to -4.5 now. But what’s interesting is as soon as we open these lines, they bet Nebraska right away, but I just don’t get it.
“I don’t think they have a shot here. I do see that the raw stats lead you to believe there’s something hidden inside the numbers here, and that’s why the sharps continue to go back to the well with Nebraska. But things happen during the games with the Huskers that you might not see when doing the math, and that would keep me off of them forever at this point,” Simbal concluded.
At William Hill, things are a bit more straightforward on this game. 74% of the money wagered is on Northwestern along with 58% of the tickets bet.
Georgia (-7.5) at LSU
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
In another game that could have major ramifications, the market seems to have settled in to the right number after opening at Georgia -7.
“Bettors laid -7 right away to push the line to -7.5. After that, the action kind of dried up on this game, which really surprised us,” Simbal said. “You’d have figured if the sharps were at all interested in LSU they’d have waited for that hook to get there and taken the +7.5. They have not at all. You know the public will most likely be on Georgia, so it wouldn’t shock me if this game creeps up a bit higher.”
At William Hill, 68% of the money bet thus far is coming in on LSU while 64% of the tickets written have been on Georgia. It certainly sets up for an interesting outcome.