Early Action On College Favorites

Early Action on College Favorites

If you've been following the betting lines in college football this week, you've noticed that some big name favorites have seen their lines move a few points.

I'll run a list of those for you in a moment. But, first, I want to explain some of what's happening here.

* The first thing to remember about the college football market is that sharps bet early (professional wagerers are on the ball), while squares bet late (the general public wait until game day). The public will hit the sportsbooks onSaturday excited about watching wall-to-wall college football, and they'll place their bets in the games they're most interested in. If you see lines move EARLY in the week, it's from smart money.  

*The second thing to remember is that squares bet favorites almost universally. They can't help it. They want to root for the superior team to win their money for them. They HATE having to root for what seems to be the inferior team to hang tough for them over 60 minutes of game action.

*The third thing to remember is that sharps know this! The Wise Guys know that money will be coming in on favorites on game day. That means they're going to bet any favorite they like early in the week to get the best possible number. That also gives them “position” they can exploit later in the week after the lines have moved.

I've talked about this often in the past. But, there are new readers coming along every day. And, it's important for everyone to review the key fundamentals before every new season anyway. Using the nature of line movements is a way to maximize the value you get from your football opinions.

Here's an easy example. Let's say YOU think that a 20-point favorite in college football is too low. Maybe your Power Ratings make the game -24. Maybe you've got some trends and angles suggesting a blowout. Maybe you think the inexperienced quarterback on the dog is going to have turnover troubles. Whatever, you have LEGITIMATE (non square) reasons to like a favorite.

Obviously, you should bet the game EARLY at -20, because that's the best line you're going to get. But, you should actually bet MORE than your normal betting units on that line if you think the line is going to move. That way you can buy back on the underdog later and set up a middle.

BETTOR A puts one unit on the favorite at -20, and congratulates himself all week on his smart play.

BETTOR B puts two units on the favorite at -20, then after a big line move up to -24 plays back one unit on the underdog. He also congratulates himself on a smart play…but his was smarter!

Both bettors are, in essence, risking one unit on the favorite. If the favorite wins by 30, they both cash and celebrate. If the favorite wins by 17, they both curse the coach. But, if the favorite wins by 21, 22, or 23 points…

BETTOR A wins one unit, and is glad he bet early because it got him a winner.

BETTOR B wins THREE units, and earned a bettor return on his risk.

Sharps bet smart. And, in actuality, sharps make a MAX bet on that early line, then come back for a smaller amount on the dog later. Maybe it's more like 3 units on the favorite and 2 units on the dog for a five unit middle. Some of you reading this are probably small recreational players. Maybe it's 20 units on the favorite and 10 units on the dog for 30 units on the middle in terms of your betting standards. This is how professional wagerers make their living. Smart bets AND market position.

I promised to run the list of favorite moves since the numbers first went up. Here's what we have as of Wednesday afternoon.

(All listed games are Saturday…no major moves yet Thursday or Friday)

OHIO STATE has gone up from 31.5 to 34 vs. Akron.

MISSOURI has gone up from 16 to 20 vs. Miami of Ohio.

ALABAMA has gone up from 33.5 to 38 vs. Kent State.

USC has gone up from 20 to 22.5 vs. Minnesota (I saw that an ESPN writer picked an upset for Minnesota here. Did he know that the Gophers were three-touchdown underdogs?).

STANFORD has gone up from 26 to 30 vs. San Jose State.

TEXAS has gone up from 20 to 24 vs. Rice (similar to our example above).

OKLAHOMA has gone up from 20 to 24.5 vs. Tulsa (also similar)

If you like those favorites but haven't bet yet, sharps have gobbled up most or all of your line value. You need to place those Las Vegas bets early! If you think some of those dogs might be live, you may see even better numbers on Saturday after the public starts betting. I can assure you that there aren't any squares who will be racing to their local sportsbook Saturday morning to invest in Akron, Kent State, or San Jose State.

Best of luck to you this weekend. Be sure you're always focused on thinking like a sharp, and betting like a sharp!

by Las Vegas linesmaker Nick Bogdanovich.


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