Rovell’s Week 9 Betting Blog: Oklahoma’s Loss a Massive Win for Sportsbooks
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Lincoln Riley
- Darren Rovell will keep you updated on all the biggest storylines in college football betting for Week 9, including the games bookmakers will be eyeing the most this Saturday.
3:30 p.m. ET: Oklahoma, which entered the week as one of the favorites to make the College Football Playoff, lost outright to Kansas State as 23.5-point favorites. It’s the fourth-biggest Big 12 upset since 2005.
Kansas State’s victory was a boon for sportsbooks, who needed the Wildcats to cover. PointsBet told me that 14 of their 15 biggest wagers of the day were on Oklahoma. And William Hill, the largest retail sportsbook in the country, said K-State was one of its two biggest needs of the day.
The biggest moneyline wager William Hill took on Oklahoma was for $5,040 at -2400 odds. The bet would’ve profited just $210 if the Sooners had prevailed.
11:29 a.m. ET: The week started out with money coming in heavy on Ohio State as two-TD favorites over Wisconsin. But the action has balanced out as the week has gone on. Our Action Network data shows that tickets are split 50-50 on this game. Some books now actually have lopsided money on Wisconsin, including PointsBet, which reports to us this morning that 85% of the spread money (+14.5) is on the Badgers, with 75% of the moneyline money on the boys from Madison.
Wisconsin is coming off a straight-up loss to Illinois. The Badgers were 28.5-point favorites in that game.
10:40 a.m. ET: Along with Michigan, which I touch on below, other teams that Circa Sportsbook will be cheering for today: Clemson -34.5 vs. Boston College, Toledo -3 vs. Eastern Michigan, Arizona +2 at Stanford, Penn State -4.5 at Michigan State, TCU pick’em vs. Texas and UCLA +3 vs. Arizona.
10:27 a.m. ET: Michigan opened as a consensus 2.5-point home favorite against rival Notre Dame, but with the way the line and the betting percentages are trending, the Wolverines could very well end up as a dog. Circa Sportsbook’s Matt Lindeman told me Michigan is its biggest need today. Circa opened the game at Michigan -4 and it’s currently a pick’em there at the time of writing.
Michigan has closed as a home underdog only once in its past 26 games in Ann Arbor (Nov. 25, 2017 vs. Ohio State -12.5). According to our Bet Labs data, Michigan hasn’t been a great bet as a home team (48-53-2 against the spread since 2005) or as a home underdog (6-8 ATS).
9:45 a.m. ET: At the Action Network, I love our coverage of weather. Our Danny Donahue has a great piece on windy games this morning thanks to the “windy under” philosophy (when the wind is at least 13 mph during a game, the under has hit 57 percent of the time on the closing number).
An interesting game to watch here is Illinois-Purdue, which will feature sustained 15 mph winds throughout the game. (Subscribers to our amazing Sports Insights product get the wind/stadium diagram you see below for every game.)
The over/under for this game has dropped from as high as 58.5 down to its current number of 54 due to the windy forecast. What makes this matchup even more interesting is that it will be played in Indiana, which recently became one of eight states to have mobile sports betting.
FanDuel — the sportsbook that does the most handle in New Jersey and launched its product in Indiana this week — told me its seeing 98% of the money hit the over in this matchup. So while the market at large is causing this over/under to drop, Purdue fans aren’t buying it, preferring to cheer for its team to score points.
9:35 a.m. ET: Alabama is 32-point favorites against Arkansas at PointsBet, even without Tua Tagovailoa today.
There’s general thought that Alabama tends to blow out its opponents, but the Tide actually haven’t been great against the spread. In the last five seasons, Alabama is 11-13 as favorites of at least 28 or more.
What could have been.
A few days ago, the Week 9 slate was looking for all the world like it would be one of the most important Saturdays of the college football season.
But after Wisconsin’s capitulation against Illinois the 2019 College Football landscape shifted and the Badgers’ trip to Columbus to take on the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes took on a different narrative.
Instead of being a game with layers of College Football Playoff implications, this matchup now looks like another walkover for the Buckeyes on their way to the dance.
That’s how people are betting it, at least.
According to our bet-tracking data, 69% of the bets (as of Thursday evening) are on Ohio State as 14-point favorites over the Badgers. Wise gamblers will always warn of getting caught up in recency bias, but the truth is that sports bettors are all about “what have you done for me lately?” And for Wisconsin the answer to that question is suffer a season-ruining loss in one of the biggest upsets in this era.
With Wisconsin-Ohio State losing some of its luster, Auburn at LSU has become the biggest game for the playoff picture and, along with Notre Dame at Michigan, is one of the two biggest decisions at Circa Sportsbook, per Matt Lindeman.
Auburn has one loss, on the road at Florida, so War Eagle still has an outside shot at making a run to the final four. LSU is firmly involved in the race to the playoff and a win over Auburn would be another huge addition to an already impressive resume.
Lindeman opened this line at LSU -12.5 but since its come down to -10 and Circa will be rooting on Ed Orgeron’s team to cover this number.
“That was probably a little too high,” Lindeman said of the opener. “Florida was banged up so this is probably the best defense LSU has seen all year. Last year, LSU won this game outright as a dog, I could see Auburn potentially doing that this year.”
If you ask Notre Dame fans, the Irish still are alive. A lot of things would have to go their way, but weirder things have happened.
Michigan’s faint hopes of making it into the playoff were extinguished by Penn State last weekend and Jim Harbaugh would like nothing more than to do the same thing to Notre Dame at the Big House this weekend.
The betting public is not interested in the Wolverines as 74% of the bets have come in on the Irish and this line has flipped from Michigan -4 to a pick ’em at Circa, where they will be big Michigan fans on Saturday.
Woo Pig Sooie
Another week, another huge Alabama spread. But what’s different this week is that bettors need to take a guess on how good Tua Tagovailoa’s replacement, Mac Jones, will be for the Tide. Our Collin Wilson thinks Tua is worth about seven points to the spread.
After opening at Alabama -35, this line has come down to -32 and bettors seem to think that’s a fair line. Forty-seven percent of the money at DraftKings is on the Razorbacks.
For the third time this year, there is an Over/Under on the board at 38 or lower. As of Thursday evening, the total for the Northwestern-Iowa game is sitting at 37.5 points.
“I opened it at 39 and couldn’t believe we couldn’t even get that,” Lindeman said. “But these two teams rank in my bottom 20 in terms of their value to a total.”
This is the second instance that Northwestern is involved in a game with a total this low. Northwestern’s game against Michigan State was the lowest total of the year at 35 (41 points were scored). The other game in this range was Wyoming-San Diego State, which had an Over/Under of 37.5 points. That contest also went past the number, landing on 48.
Rutgers Watch, 2019
We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about our favorite college football team, the fabulous Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Currently one of six teams who are 1-6 Against the Spread (Akron is the only team worse at 0-7), the Scarlet Knights are only adding to their accolades this weekend. They are the first team in history to pay at least $1 million to play another team and be an underdog!
The Power 5 teams pay other teams to avoid having to play them at their place. Because they don’t get ticket sales on their end for a home game not played, there’s a payment for the one-way arrangement.
Power 5 teams have lost these “million-dollar games” before, but they have never been an underdog, let alone a touchdown underdog that Rutgers is against Liberty this week.
For what it’s worth, there have been five teams in the last two seasons who have lost outright to teams who they paid at least $1 million to:
- $1.5M — Arkansas lost to San Jose State (2019)
- $1.2M — Northwestern lost to Akron (2018)
- $1.15M — Nebraska lost to Troy (2018)
- $1M — Arkansas lost to North Texas (2018)
- $1M — Illinois lost to Eastern Michigan (2019)
In 2017, Rutgers lost to Eastern Michigan. They paid them $860,000.