Week 10 Vegas Roundup: Will the Sportsbooks Need Texas to Cover vs. West Virginia?
Ben Queen, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Will Grier
- Week 10 of the college football season has plenty of marquee games leading up to Alabama at LSU on Saturday night.
- Bookmakers in Las Vegas are paying special attention to West Virginia at Texas, Michigan State at Maryland and Georgia at Kentucky.
LAS VEGAS — While the Alabama-LSU game is the clear headliner for Week 10 of the college football season, there are plenty of great games on the undercard.
Georgia (-8.5) at Kentucky | Over/Under: 44.5
Even though Georgia lost to LSU a few weeks ago, this game has huge ramifications in the SEC. The Bulldogs rebounded well to beat Florida last week and have set themselves up well in their portion of the SEC to potentially have a shot at the SEC Championship, and maybe even the playoff.
Kentucky, meanwhile, has been playing surprisingly well and have won some big games against Mississippi State, Missouri and South Carolina. The Wildcats are actually tied with Georgia atop the SEC East.
I spoke with Will Bernanke of CG Technologies and Derek Wilkinson at the Westgate SuperBook about this game and each of them are getting different action at their houses at the moment.
“We’re mostly getting split action here,” Bernanke said. “It’s a slight edge to Kentucky so far but I expect this to shift by Saturday as Georgia is simply a bigger public team. Kentucky did well to win last week but Missouri bettors had to feel like they had their chances to win that game.”
Even though Georgia is definitely a more public team than Kentucky, but the Wildcats are in the midst of one of those magical seasons and that has caught the attention of bettors.
“It’s been a great ride and I suspect some bettors will want to continue on that ride and think the Wildcats could cover,” Bernanke added. “But this is an enormous game for Georgia, it’s essentially a playoff game for them. So I certainly think, come Saturday the money will lean back towards Georgia.”
The action at the Westgate SuperBook has followed a more predicatable pattern.
“The public has been betting Georgia so far and we haven’t seen any sharp action on it yet,” Wilkinson explained. “We’re going to need Kentucky for sure and I like that position. I think Kentucky is going to cover, but not win.”
At William Hill, Georgia has a slight edge in the wagering as they are currently receiving 66% of the tickets written and 60% of the money wagered at the time of writing.
Penn State at Michigan (-12) | Over/Under: 53.5
Penn State is not having its best season with key losses to Ohio State and Michigan State and with Michigan still in the mix for the College Football Playoff, one would have to expect the Wolverines to be very ready for this game, especially since Penn State beat up on the Wolverines last season in Ann Arbor.
John Murray, the director of the Westgate SuperBook, believes Michigan is in desperate need to score style points and the betting traffic follows that notion.
“If Michigan is able to, I expect them to run up the score on Penn State. They’re right in the mix with the playoffs and could easily jump over the Alabama-LSU loser after this week with a big effort,” Murray said. “We’re not seeing much Penn State money at this point and I don’t expect that to change by Saturday.”
It’s a similar situation at the CG properties but Bernanke has a feeling it could change. “We’re not seeing much faith from the bettors on Penn State. Thus far we have over 80% of the cash on the Wolverines. Our ticket count is 60-40 to Michigan right now,” he said.
“But I still think the public will show more interest on Penn State as we get closer to Saturday. If anything, I think the sharps will stick with Michigan. Penn State is 6-0 as an underdog and if they’ve made money for the public before they usually stick with them. As long as this line stays at double digits, and I don’t see why it won’t, that line is going to look awfully appealing to stick with the dog here.”
At William Hill they are seeing a bit of a split, Penn State has 57% of the tickets written but Michigan has 68% of the money wagered suggesting the sharps are on the Wolverines at the time of writing.
Michigan State (-2.5) at Maryland | Over/Under: 45
This game is strangely getting a decent amount of attention. It doesn’t have much significance other than the intriguing angle of the head coach finally being fired after a long suspension.
It’s hard to figure out if that’s the appeal here (morbid as it may seem), but this game is taking 5% of both the total money wagered AND tickets written at William Hill. Bernanke thinks the public might be trying to take advantage of a difficult situation in Maryland.
“It’s hard not to be fascinated by this game,” he commented. “With Maryland it’s definitely a ‘wait and see’ approach. It’s a unique situation for sure and I couldn’t tell you how we think this team is going to react with all that’s going on in Maryland.
“We definitely had a clearer impression before things went down the way they did there, but now? Who knows? All we are sure of is it’s been mostly Michigan State money so far but not to the level I expected. Right now it’s about 60% on Michigan State and I think a lot of bettors are giving things a little more time for the dust to settle before they decide which way to go.”
At William Hill, bettors there are nowhere near as hesitant. They’re clearly piling on with Michigan State with 91% of the tickets written and a whopping 97% of the money wagered.
West Virginia at Texas (-1.5) | Over/Under: 58
After an ugly road loss to Oklahoma State, Texas returns home to take on West Virginia with the hopes of righting the ship and staying in the hunt for a Big 12 title.
This is the last tough game remaining on the Longhorns’ schedule but it’s also a huge game for West Virginia, which can climb back into the playoff picture with a win here and then against Oklahoma in Morgantown at the end of the season.
Bernanke thinks recency bias may play a role here with Texas falling to Oklahoma State and West Virginia impressing against Baylor last week.
“The game is still running fairly even behind the counter and I honestly expect we’re going to need Texas come Saturday,” Bernanke said. “Based on looks and short memory, I’d have to think there will be more interest from the public on West Virginia as we get closer to kickoff. But if the line stays where it is or goes up, I’d have to think that’s going to be sharp money driving the action.”
At William Hill, West Virginia is getting a slight edge with 52% of the tickets written and 64% of the money wagered.