What Sharps Think About Championships


There are normally too many college games each week for me to write up a full report on what the sharps (professional wagerers) are thinking about in that sport. But, I can do it for the conference championship games because there are only five of them. And, you longtimers know I also put together reports for the bowl games because those are spread apart in convenient hunks.

So, from this point forward, I'll be looking each week at what the sharps are thinking in both college and pro action. Today, I'll discuss the Thursday Night game in the NFL matching Houston and Philadelphia, along with the FIVE conference championship games scheduled for Friday and Saturday. When we're together again Saturday morning, I'll run through the rest of the NFL card for you.

: The opener of Philly -7 jumped up to -8. Sharps think Michael Vick is likely to have a field day against that soft Houston defense. Plus, we've seen many Southern teams have trouble in recent years when travelling up North in December. I do think some of this was 'position-taking' however. Sharps believe that squares (the general public) will want the TV home favorite (which they usually do), so laying 7 points set up a possible middle bet should the line move to -8.5 or -9. So, don't assume this is 100% love for the Eagles. Sharps who liked he Eagles AND position-takers bet early. Those who prefer Houston will wait until game day to see how high the line goes so they can maximize their win potential. The total is up a tick from 50.5 to 51. Should the weather forecast help defenses, it might come down before kickoff.


NORTHERN ILLINOIS VS. MIAMI OF OHIO (MAC-Friday): Sharps absolutely LOVED Northern Illinois at the opener of -14. It's all the way up to -18 now...which tells you it was a horrible opener from oddsmakers. Northern's been playing very well this year. Oddsmakers clearly underestimated how much sharps had been paying attention! The total is up from an opener of 51.5 to 54.5. Clearly very strong support for Northern and the Over. If you liked those options yourself, the value may be gone given the big moves that have already taken place. You've got to act EARLY if you're going to bet favorites! We may see some buy back before kickoff for a huge middle. But, many sharps I've talked to are happy with their early positions at -14, -15, etc... When you have a big edge and deep pockets, standing pat can be the best thing.

CENTRAL FLORIDA VS. SMU (CUSA-Saturday): Some support for Central Florida at the opener of -8. We're seeing -9 now. That's probably not position-taking because eight isn't a key number. I will tell you that many sharps like June Jones as an underdog. They won with him over Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl last year. They're waiting to see if they can get +10 after public action before stepping in here. The sharps who like Central bet the opener. Those who like SMU are waiting.

AUBURN VS. SOUTH CAROLINA (SEC-Saturday): Auburn is up to -6 from -5 on the news that Cam Newton has been cleared to play for the favorite. Sharps who liked Auburn didn't want to bet right away then find out Newton was going to be scratched from the game because of his off-field issues. I'm not getting a strong read here from my discussions with sharps. There's a lot of respect for both sides...and a consensus that Auburn is the better team. I do think some South Carolina money would come in should the number move to seven. Maybe very heavily.

VIRGINIA TECH VS. FLORIDA STATE (ACC-Saturday): We saw interest in Florida State at the opener of +4.5, but that only brought the line down to +4. I believe most sharps had the number at four. They didn't expect the public to come in heavy on Virginia Tech because FSU looked so good on TV last week against Florida. Might as well take the +4.5 if it's not going to +5. To this point, this isn't a game being isolated by sharps for big action as best I can tell. That may change by kickoff, particularly if any news breaks.

OKLAHOMA VS. NEBRASKA (BIG 12-Saturday): We saw another big move here, as sharps believe Taylor Martinez won't be a big contributor for Nebraska because of injuries. Oklahoma opened at -2.5, and is all the way up to -6.5 as I write this. Sportsbooks will be rooting for Nebraska! The Huskers have struggled to do much when Martinez is unable to break long runs. If they fall behind OU's potent attack, things could get ugly. Also...there's some chat about how the Big 12 kept calling penalties on Nebraska in the Texas A&M game a couple of weeks ago. Nebraska is leaving for the Big 10 after this season. Conspiracy theorists bet early figuring there was no way the Big 12 would let Nebraska win this game. Between that and the injuries to Martinez, this line made a huge jump. I do think sharps would start taking the dog at +7 though, because of respect for the Nebraska defense...and the awareness that Bob Stoops of Oklahoma has trouble playing to pointspread expectations in big games.

by Las Vegas linesmaker Nick Bogdanovich


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