Early Bowl Moves
DIRECT FROM NEVADA
With Oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich
SHARPS HIT A FEW OPENERS AS BOWL LINES HIT THE BOARD
When we get closer to the bowl games, I'll provide expanded coverage of what the sharps (professional wagerers) think about each and every postseason college game (as we've done in recent seasons).
The games don't start until a week from Saturday though, so that coverage won't start until next week. Today, with the openers relatively fresh on the board, I wanted to run through some of the early moves we've seen already. Sharps bet EARLY. That's one of the key factors that separates them from squares (the general public). Any move you see right now represents sharp sentiment.
Many games haven't moved yet, so I won't list all 30-some-odd bowl games today. Here are the ones where we've seen early sharp interest:
- BYU opened at -13½ in the New Mexico Bowl over UTEP, but that line got bet right down to -12. Sharps liked the dog at that high number...and didn't expect the public to drive it any higher. That's very strong sentiment for the dog. Sharps didn't trust either other to wait for the public to act. They thought +13½ and +13 were already steals.
- Northern Illinois opened at -3½ over Fresno State in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. Fresno is now just +3 in places, and the money is still coming in on the dog so it might go lower. Fresno impressed sharps with their win over Illinois. Northern Illinois had a horrible game in the MAC Championship vs. Miami of Ohio, and then lot their head coach to Minnesota.
- We've flipped favorites in the New Orleans Bowl, with an opener of Ohio -1 moving to Troy -1.
- Early support on Louisville -3 over Southern Miss in the St. Petersburg Bowl. The line moved to -3½ and stayed there, meaning nobody liked the dog with the hook. That's a confident vote on Louisville from the market.
- Many sharps were interested in seeing what the line would be in the Utah/Boise State game set for Las Vegas. That's a game they try to attend in person if they can...and there was a lot of buzz about Boise State coming to town. Before the line went up, many were talking about Boise State winning big. That may have influenced oddsmakers on the opener. Because a line of 17½ went up on the board! That's begging for Utah money. And, Utah money came in. We're now seeing Utah +16½.
- Tulsa got early respect in the Hawaii Bowl, moving from an opener of +13½ down to +12½ versus Hawaii.
- We'll skip a few because of a lack of action. East Carolina +9 got hit in the Military Bowl against Maryland. That line is down to +7½.
- North Carolina was a popular bet in the Music City Bowl vs. Tennessee, moving from -1 to -2½. Note that the game is in Nashville. Oddsmakers are afraid to move to -3 because Volunteers money would come in and set up a middle. For now NC looks to be a sharp bet at anything below the field goal.
- Miami of Florida opened at -4 vs. Notre Dame, but Irish money brough the line down to -3. Notre Dame has been covering some spreads lately. Sharps were impressed that they could beat USC outright on the road...even if Southern Cal did a better job of "losing" that game than ND did of winning it. Miami's had a coaching change. Sharps generally bet against teams going through coaching transitions in bowls.
- Welcome to 2011! Early support for Texas Tech in the Ticket City Bowl in Dallas on New Year's Day. They opened at -8½ vs. Northwestern, and have been bet up to -9½ Sportsbooks are concerned about a move to -10 because Northwestern money could come in and set up a middle or a side at a key number.
- Mississippi State has won over many sharps this year. That's not a team you heard a lot about on TV. But, they've really improved under their new head coach. The Bulldogs opened at -5 vs. Michigan in the Gator Bowl, and are now -6.
- TCU opened at -1½ in the Rose Bowl over a Wisconsin team that's been obliterating people. That surprised many in the media. But, then money from sharps came in on the Frogs! TCU is at -3. And, we haven't seen a rush to Wisconsin at the full field goal. This one's going to be a lot of fun. And, it may be a very heavily bet game in Las Vegas because Wisconsin fans know their way around here. They'll fly to LA early for the game...make a side trip to Vegas to bet their favorite team. You watch. We're really looking forward to this one.
- The biggest move of any bowl so far has come in the Orange Bowl. Virginia Tech and Stanford opened at pick-em. Stanford is now -3...with little buy back on the Hokies to this point. That's EXTREME support for the Cardinal. Tech is a very physical team. Oregon didn't handle a physical Ohio State team in the Rose Bowl last year. Interesting move.
- Boston College opened at +10½ vs. Nevada in the game in San Francisco. That line is down to +9. Everyone remembers how badly Nevada played vs. SMU in their bowl last year. And, the BC defense gets respect.
- I'll finish with the BCS championship game. The "official" opener was Auburn -3, and it's stayed there. A prominent Vegas book went up early to get some attention. They opened Oregon as a favorite and got POUNDED by alert sharps. So, that one book is rooting heavily for Oregon already. But, action will be heavy by kickoff that the early investments won't seem all that big down the road. Sometimes even the most prominent books can misread market sentiment by a few points...even with teams that have been on TV almost every week all season.
That wraps up this look at what the sharps are thinking on the gridiron. My next report will look at Sunday and Monday NFL, and will run here at the website Friday morning. I can tell you that sharps liked Indianapolis and the Over at the openers in the Thursday Night game. The Colts opened -2, and are now -3 at Tennessee. The total of 44 is up to 46½, though it may come back down some if the weather is going to be cold. I'll talk about the rest of the card in that Friday report.
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