Week 10 of the college football season is the biggest, baddest slate of games bettors will get until bowl season.
With so much attention on the numerous marquee matchups this Saturday, we seek the wise words John Avello, sportsbook director at the Wynn Las Vegas, to find out how bettors are treating those games and where the odds could end up at kickoff.
Texas Longhorns at Texas Tech Red Raiders – Open: Texas Tech -6.5, Move: -7.5, Move: -7
The Red Raiders are giving a near touchdown to their state rivals in Lubbock Saturday and are favorites versus Texas for the first time since 2004.
Avello says bettors are losing faith in the Longhorns, normally a very popular play, after some less-than-impressive showings in recent games.
“Texas usually gets a lot of respect,” Avello, who sees the spread staying at -7, told Covers. “But you go to Kansas and struggle, you go to Oklahoma and get beat up, you lose to West Virginia. There is starting to be a lack of respect for Texas.”
Oregon Ducks at USC Trojans – Open: USC +5.5, Move: +8
This game was supposed to decide who was going to play in the national championship, but USC has stumbled along the way, taking the shine off this premier Pac-12 contest.
Avello, who is currently dealing Oregon -7, is surprised that the spread has climbed so quickly. He thought the public bettors, who love USC week to week, would be jumping at the chance to play the Trojans as a rare dog against a Ducks squad that may not be as good as its record suggests.
“Oregon is playing great, but they’re not playing anybody,” says Avello. “They haven’t had a tough game all year.”
Alabama Crimson Tide at LSU Tigers – Open: LSU +6.5, Move: +9.5 (Wednesday), Move to +8.5 and 8 (Thursday)
The rematch of last year’s national title game has also lost some of its luster after LSU fell to Florida and posted some disappointing efforts this season.
Avello is shocked by how high this spread has gone and says that while Alabama is clearly the best team in the country, bettors are discounting just how good the Tigers’ home-field advantage at Death Valley really is. They have the longest home winning streak in the nation at 22 games.
“(Alabama is) going to a home field that rarely loses,” he says. “It’s a big number for down there. (LSU’s) home field is worth about four or five points. So, what you’re saying is that on a neutral field Alabama would be two-touchdown favorites? I don’t know about that.”
Sharp action moved this line down to +8.5 and +8 at several books on Thursday.
Oklahoma State Cowboys at Kansas State Wildcats – Open: KSU -7, Move: -9.5
The Wildcats have been a popular pick with public and sharp bettors in recent weeks, moving off the key number and near another heading into what looks like a shootout with Oklahoma State – the top offensive team in the land.
However, Avello thinks Big 12 bettors will see more defense than expected in this game. The Cowboys have proven they can hold down opponents, limiting their last three foes to a total of just 38 points, an average of 12.6 a game. Online books have posted a total of 66 points for this contest.
“Last year, they had a shootout and combined for close to 100 points (OSU won 52-45) and the history has been a lot of ‘fire ‘em up, shoot ‘em out’ games,” says Avello. “But there might be more defense than you expect Saturday.”
Texas A&M Aggies at Mississippi State Bulldogs – Open: +1.5, Move: +6.5
Of all the line moves on the Week 10 board, this one stumps Avello the most. The Bulldogs, coming off a hard-fought loss at Alabama, have moved from slight home dogs to near-touchdown pups when they welcome Texas A&M to Davis Wade Stadium.
“I don’t agree with this move at all,” says Avello, who opened MSU as 1.5-point home underdogs.
The Aggies have yet to be tested on the road, picking up wins at SMU, Ole Miss and, most recently, Auburn in a 63-21 thrashing last weekend. Avello has been very impressed with Mississippi State and expects a closer game than what the line moves indicates.
“You can’t hold a loss to Alabama against them,” he says. “(Mississippi State) is going to test this Texas A&M team for sure. Texas A&M is a good team year in and year out, and they’re OK on the road. But they don’t always go on the road and dominate and they’ve only had a few weak road games this year.”