Rovell’s College Football Notebook: Underdogs Northwestern, Indiana Attracting Most Money in Week 12
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald (center) huddles up with the team.
In what is the de facto Big Ten title game semifinals this weekend, Indiana is playing Ohio State and Wisconsin is playing Northwestern.
At the Circa sportsbook, which sets the odds first and tends to have more of a pro crowd, one game has had little action and the other bettors can’t get enough.
“We opened Ohio State at three touchdowns and the pros just didn’t see any value in that,” said Circa bookmaker Matt Metcalf. “I could see them being a lot more interested at 17.”
The game between Wisconsin (2-0) and Northwestern (4-0) is a completely different animal, he said.
“This is one of the best games, in terms of two way action, we’ve seen all year,” Metcalf said. “It hits 7.5, someone brings it down to 7. Then it’s bet back up to 7.5. Back and forth.”
Metcalf opened the game at Northwestern +8 and one of his most respected gamblers, who just bets on college football, max bet on the Wildcats.
“I haven’t taken a stance on this game, but I definitely have that bet in the back of my mind,” Metcalf said.
At more public books, both games are intriguing.
BetMGM spokesperson Elisa Richardson said the most money that has been bet on any college football team this week is Indiana (+20.5). Second most? Northwestern (+7.5).
At FanDuel, 76% of the money is on Indiana (+20.5) and 77% of the money is on Wisconsin.
Circa prides itself on opening up first and all the information isn’t out when the lines are made. Two games in particular changed by a touchdown.
Metcalf opened Florida State as a 29-point underdog to Clemson.
Then Florida State quarterback Chubba Purdy was ruled out for the season and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was ruled probable.
“I was overly optimistic on Florida State,” Metcalf said, who now has the Seminoles as 36-point underdogs. “It’s gonna be a name-your-score type of game for Clemson.”
The second game that featured a huge jump was Temple-ECU.
Metcalf had Temple as three-point favorites over ECU, based on the potential return of the Owls QB Anthony Russo. The news that broke? The Owls wouldn’t have their first, second or third option available at quarterback.
True freshman Matt Duncan will see his first action, which pushed ECU to four-point favorites before settling back at -3.5.
The two most challenging games for Metcalf this week might have been some of the other Big Ten games.
He opened Iowa-Penn State at pick ‘em, even though the Hawkeyes are 2-2 and the Nittany Lions are 0-4.
“My numbers actually had Penn State as 6-point favorites here,” Metcalf said. Iowa was bet up to -3 before falling down to -2.
The Rutgers-Michigan game was also a tough one for Metcalf.
“I had it at 10, but opened at 8.5,” he said.
It eventually got to double digits, even though Michigan is seen as being on the downturn and Rutgers and Schiano 2.0 are seemingly going up.
If there’s one game that could trick the public, Metcalf says its Liberty-NC State. Liberty is of course 8-0 and is ranked No. 21 in the country, NC State is 5-3. Metcalf’s models told him to put it at +5, but opened it at Liberty +3.5.
“I think many people think they were stealing at Liberty +3.5, but it’s still a Power 5 school they’re playing.”