CFB Teams on the Move: The Biggest Shifts in Westgate’s Game of the Year Lines

Sep 12, 2019 08:00 PM EDT
Credit:

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Scott Frost

  • Every summer, Westgate SuperBook and other books release college football Game of the Year lines, which put odds on some of the most interesting contests that will be played that season.
  • Westgate releases updated lines each week throughout the fall, which gives us an indication of who is rising and falling in the eyes of oddsmakers and the market.
  • John Murray, the Director of Race & Sports at Westgate, weighed in with some of his thoughts on the changes they've made.

We’re two weeks into the college football season, and we know a few things. Just a few.

LSU’s offense looks great. Wisconsin can run all over bad teams. Michigan hasn’t taken the leaps forward we quite expected and Florida State is … well … the same Florida State we saw last year.

Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has reacted to those learnings and updated their Game of the Year lines, which are initially released in the summer.

These lines cover some of the best and most interesting games throughout the season and are available to bet throughout the year — everything from Ohio State-Michigan and Auburn-Alabama to UCF-Cincinnati and Army-Navy.

John Murray Director of Race & Sports at Westgate, said they take most of the action on these numbers in the summer from bettors trying to middle these games with Game of the Year lines posted at other books.

Throughout the season, these numbers take some action, but nothing significant, and any changes are a result of Westgate’s oddsmakers adjusting their power ratings, not money being bet into the market.

Here is the full list of Game of the Year lines and how they’ve moved, with some commentary below.

Notable Risers

A few teams Murray highlighted as his biggest risers:

  • LSU
  • Ohio State
  • Maryland
  • UNC
  • Colorado
  • Wisconsin

LSU

Who else would lead this list? The Tigers have always recruited at an elite level and consistently turn in 9-win seasons, but just haven’t been able to get over the hump against the class of the SEC in recent years.

Now, LSU appears to have an offense its opponents should fear and turned in an excellent performance in a marquee game against Texas.

Lines have moved at least 2 points in LSU’s direction in every game, and nearly 5 points against Alabama.

“They’re the third highest power rated team in the country behind Clemson and Alabama,” Murray said. “It’s a combination of how they’ve looked and how high-profile the matchups have been. People always bet on what they just saw, but I probably underrated them entering the season.”

Wisconsin

Unlike LSU, the Badgers haven’t actually played anyone. But you can only beat the teams that are scheduled, and boy has Wisconsin beaten those teams.

Wisconsin has outscored South Florida and Central Michigan a combined 110-0 and outgained them by 4.7 yards per play (1,034 total yards to 215).

As a result, the Badgers have gone from +7.5 to +1.5 at home against Michigan on Sept. 21 and become a favorite against some of the Big Ten West’s upstarts like Nebraska and Minnesota.

UCF

We continue to expect drop-offs from UCF after losing Scott Frost to Nebraska and quarterback McKenzie Milton to a gruesome leg injury, but this team just keeps rolling.

The Knights have been dynamic on offense, racking up 1,268 total yards and 110 points through two games against Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic.

UCF was originally listed as an underdog to Pitt and Cincinnati, but that’s flipped, and the Knights are now favored.

Not in Panic Mode Yet

By comparing current odds to the openers, we can tell who’s rising and falling. But there are a few notable teams that Murray isn’t wavering on just yet, despite their early-season struggles.

Michigan

Michigan hasn’t gotten much of a downgrade from Westgate, despite going to overtime with Army on Saturday.

“I still believe in their talent level. I think they’d be better off playing (Dylan) McCaffery at quarterback,” Murray said. “But I wouldn’t kill them just yet.”

Nebraska

The Nebraska hype train has come off the tracks, toppled over and caught on fire. But Murray still believes, and doesn’t think there is a huge fundamental flaw with this team like there is with Florida State or Syracuse, which have also gotten big downgrades.

“I thought Nebraska was going to win the Big Ten West and I still think they can,” Murray said. “I wouldn’t want to go too crazy on Nebraska, I think they’ll be OK.”

Murray also said where Nebraska is power rated now is more in line with his preseason expectations.

Nebraska went from nearly a touchdown favorite against Iowa and Purdue to a pick’em, and from a 3.5-point favorite over Wisconsin to a 5-point underdog.

Notable Fallers

A few teams stood out to Murray as the biggest losers through two weeks:

  • UCLA
  • Florida State
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

Florida State

Anyone expecting Florida State to take a step forward in Year 2 under Willie Taggart has been thoroughly disappointed.

It started with a blown lead to Boise State and a home loss, then the Seminoles needed overtime.

The biggest moves for the Noles are from +10.5 to +18.5 vs. Florida and from -3 to +5 vs. Miami (which hasn’t started all that hot in its own right).

Auburn

Auburn is 2-0 and still ranked in the AP Poll’s top 10, but an unconvincing win over Oregon has the market down on the Tigers.

Every line has moved against Auburn by at least 3.5 points.

UCLA

UCLA is 0-2 with losses to San Diego State and Cincinnati, which surprised Murray.

“I was pretty high on them coming into the season,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on there but you have to move them down.”

UCLA’s three posted lines have moved against the Bruins by an average of 6.5 points.

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