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Rovell’s Bookmaker Roundup: Bettors Are Fading the Defending Champions, but Alabama Remain Public Darlings

Rovell’s Bookmaker Roundup: Bettors Are Fading the Defending Champions, but Alabama Remain Public Darlings article feature image

John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every year, especially among the best SEC teams, turnover is the operative word. Bookmakers book and bettors bet on the jerseys, the coaches and the program — often on blind faith that it’s never rebuilding and always reloading.

But today’s LSU-Mississippi State game isn’t an easy one for bettors.


Because LSU wasn’t “LSU” last year.

On the way to the national title, their Heisman Trophy winner quarterback and their offensive coordinator changed who the purple and gold were.

They became an offensive team, a pass-happy scheme that Death Valley hadn’t seen since Jeff Wickersham lit up the skies in Baton Rouge in the early 80s.

Last year, LSU led the nation with 47.2 points per game. In the previous five years, they scored an average of 28.8 points and didn’t make the top-80 teams in points scored twice.

In fact, in the last 15 years, they only scored more than 35 points per game once — in 2011-12 when they had Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.

So today, bettors and bookmakers alike are forced to wonder: Who are the LSU Tigers that walk out onto the field today?

That Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Joe Burrow, is in Cincinnati. His replacement is a red-shirt junior in Myles Brennan who hasn’t started a game.

Gone too to the NFL is basically the entire team of stars from last year — Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Justin Jefferson on offense and the stout defenders — K’Lavon Chaisson, Patrick Queen, Jacob Phillips, Grant Delpit and Kristian Fulton. There’s four additional players who have opted out including Ja’Marr Chase, the nation’s top wideout.

Joe Brady, the mastermind behind LSU’s passing attack, also moved on to the NFL.

“If you are trying to put a face on this LSU team, you certainly don’t know who it is yet,” said BetMGM’s vice president of trading Jason Scott.

The line is also a little bit more difficult to handicap because Mississippi State is now coached by Mike Leach, who is trying to change the Bulldogs into last year’s version of LSU.

The line, which opened at LSU -16.5, hasn’t budged much. But there’s plenty of action on this game. In fact, the sportsbooks we talked to told us it’s at the top of the list as far as the most-bet games of the day.

You’d think that bettors would be happy to lay the points with the defending champions, right?

Well, not so fast.

PointsBet’s Patrick Eichner pointed out that most of their LSU support is coming on the moneyline, which currently sits at -720, and not the spread.

“There’s more action on the moneyline than the spread, with 95% of the bets and the handle on LSU [in that market],” Eichner said.

Around the industry, it seems like the public is actually fading the reigning champs. In fact, BetMGM reports that only one team is more popular than Mississippi State on Saturday — Alabama.

Even with the support for the underdogs Against the Spread, sportsbooks would love an upset because of all the money tied up in the moneyline, both straight up and parlays.

As for the total, bettors are flocking towards the Over, and who can blame them with Mike Leach in town. PointsBet reports that 77% of the money has come in on the Over at 57.

Other Notable Action:

New season, same story. Bettors are backing Alabama. According to our bet-tracking data, the Crimson Tide are on pace to be the most popular bet in the SEC as 28.5-point favorites against Missouri. Bama is getting 81% of the bets so far.

Buy low on the Pokes? Oklahoma State struggled to get anything going in their curtain-raising win over Tulsa. The Cowboys were three-score favorites but eked out a 16-7 victory over the Golden Hurricanes. That performance is weighing heavily on bettors’ minds as the Pokes are getting just 35% of the bets and 23% of the dollars against West Virginia.

The public is fading Lane Kiffin in his Ole Miss debut. Mississippi opened as a 12-point underdog against Florida but has moved to +14.5 at some sportsbooks thanks to 64% of the bets landing on the Gators.

Tennessee was a trendy sleeper pick in the SEC and the public is buying the Vols as 3.5-point favorites over South Carolina. Tennessee has attracted 63% of the tickets against the Gamecocks.

Arkansas seems to be getting some sharp money in its matchup against Georgia. The Razorbacks are only getting 42% of the bets, but 58% of the money as 28-point underdogs against the Bulldogs.

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