College Football Week 1 Money Moves
It’s Week 1 of the college football season and while most of the numbers have been posted since July, the rush from the masses to bet the games hasn’t been seen until this week.
“We can already see a much bigger difference from last week as far as activity in the book and ticket counts,” said Las Vegas SuperBook manager Randy Blum who is expecting a big crowd for Saturday’s games.
Last week’s mini-opening weekend turned out to be horrendous results for the house with most sportsbooks losing all five games and paying out five-teamers at 20-to-1 odds. Right out of the gate, a punch to the gut for the sportsbooks. Bettors strike first and now they’ve got extra cash and confidence to go strong after a few games and they’ve shown their hand already.
“We’ve got two games that stand out the most among ticket counts and parlay bettors and that’s Alabama and Georgia,” Blum said. “With Alabama, we’ve seen 70% of the tickets on them, and the cash count is similar. Georgia has a weird mix where the tickets are split evenly between Clemson and them, but the cash edge is on Georgia.”
Alabama comes into this neutral-site opener in Atlanta as a 19.5-point favorite after opening -18.5. The Tide always comes loaded with talent and the guy up next always seems to eventually find his way into the NFL. But if trying to find a soft spot, this might be it with only three offensive starters returning and sophomore QB Bryce Drew making his Alabama debut. Miami brings 11 starters back on an offense that averaged 34 ppg and finished 8-3 last season.
Clemson has dropped from -4 for this neutral site game at Charlotte, NC to -3 for this opener against Georgia. An SEC/ACC Clash. Clemson lost a bunch on offense but brings back sophomore QB D.J. Uiagalelei who won the first two games for Clemson last season as Trevor Lawrence had COVID-19. The defense is still stacked with 10 starters returning. Georgia is a bit green on defense with seven new starters, but the offense has junior QB J.T. Daniels back. By the betting patterns seen so far, the public feels good about Georgia in the opener.
But the big star of Saturday’s card remains with LSU visiting the Rose Bowl and UCLA where the Tigers have dropped from -4.5 down to -2.5.
“We had a house player lay -3 with LSU for $50,000, but then we had some of our sharp bettors take UCLA +3 a few times,” Blum said.
UCLA comes off an impressive opener last week when they beat up Hawaii 44-10 easily covering -17.5. Chip Kelly has gone 10-21 in three seasons at UCLA, but Saturday they finally looked like a Chip Kelly team, and the sharp crews out there knew they would and were hammering UCLA even before the Hawaii game. The Bruins have 19 starters returning while LSU has 16 starters returning.
“We also had a bettor lay -14 with Rutgers for $20,000, and it’s still considered action even after the date moved from Thursday to Saturday because we changed our house rules to say the game must be played within eight days of the original date for action,” Blum said. “We’re at -14.5 now.”
Masks are again required by Nevada for employees and guests at all sportsbooks and the SuperBook is looking to be more proactive than state law requires by giving bettors lined up to be more space. Maybe not exactly the 6-foot rule mandated last season, but enough to show they care about the safety of their guests.
Here’s a look at some of the SuperBook’s biggest moves over the last two weeks of booking Week 1 college football action.
STANFORD VS. KANSAS STATE (12:00 P.M. ET)
Kansas State has moved from pick’em to -3 for their neutral site game at Arlington, TX against Stanford. Kansas State comes off a 4-6 season but brings back nine starters on offense while Stanford will be starting a new QB among the five newcomers starting on offense.
OKLAHOMA VS. TULANE (12:00 P.M. ET)
Oklahoma is expected to be double-digit favorites in all 12 of their games and due to Hurricane Isa, the site has been changed from Tulane (New Orleans) to Norman. The Sooners had moved from -23 to -26 and the move tacked on an extra 5.5-points to make Oklahoma -31.5 at home. And the Sooners come stacked with 15 offensive players having 350 snaps or more and the defense comes with 13 of those types led by QB, and Heisman favorite, Spencer Rattler.
INDIANA AT IOWA (3:30 P.M. ET)
Indiana was shown some love at the bet windows at Iowa where the Hawkeyes dropped from 4.5-point home favorites down to -3.5. Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen brings back 17 starters from last season's 6-2 surprise team, which includes a healthy Michael Penix back at QB. Iowa went 6-2 after starting unraveled at 0-2
CENTRAL MICHIGAN AT MISSOURI (4:00 P.M. ET)
Bettors are seeing a mismatch with the SEC’s Missouri getting the MAC’s Central Michigan to visit Columbia, MO for the opener. The SuperBook opened Missouri -12 and it’s been bet up to -14.5. But Central Michigan isn’t a cupcake as they return 10 starters on each side of the ball.
LOUISIANA TECH AT MISSISSIPPI STATE (4:00 P.M. ET)
Mississippi State opened as 26.5-point home favorites against Louisiana Tech but the line has dropped all the way to -23. Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach brings back 16 starters from a roller coaster 4-7 debut season, which includes sophomore QB Will Rogers. Louisiana Tech brings back almost everyone on defense.
SAN JOSE STATE AT USC (5:00 P.M. ET)
USC went 5-1 last season and bring back junior QB Kedon Slovis, but they better not overlook the Spartans of San Jose State who went 7-1 last season and bring back the same coaching staff with 20 of the starters also returning, which includes senior QB Nick Starkel. Bettors have pushed USC from -15.5 down to -14. Spartan respect.
TEXAS TECH VS. HOUSTON (7:00 P.M. ET)
Texas Tech has dropped from -2.5 at Houston to -1. This game will be played on the neutral site at NRG Stadium -- in Houston. The Cougars bring back junior QB Cayton Tune.
UTSA AT ILLINOIS (7:30 P.M. ET)
Bettors think Illinois is partying too much off their big win last week against Nebraska and have bet Texas-San Antonio +6.5 down to +5. It’s a possible letdown spot with UTSA bringing back almost everyone from a 7-5 team last season.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS AT GEORGIA TECH (7:30 P.M. ET)
Georgia Tech has been bumped up from -16 to -18 over the MAC’s Northern Illinois who went winless last season and don’t have many starters returning. Tech is still trying to find an identity under third-year head coach Geoff Collins who has gone 6-16 in his first two seasons.
SOUTHERN MISS AT SOUTH ALABAMA (8:00 P.M. ET)
South Alabama is now the 1-point home favorite after Southern Miss opened as a 1.5-point road favorite. Southern Miss returns almost everyone from last season's 3-7 team except the QB.
That's all for this week. Be sure to watch the screen on Saturday morning when the final waves of big bets will be made.
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