Each week during the college football season, renowned Las Vegas wiseguy and Covers Expert Bruce Marshall looks at the NCAAF odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later, and which total to watch as the week plays out.
Spread to bet now
Northern Illinois Huskies at Kent State Golden Flashes (+9)
Through the first five weeks of the season, no price in games involving NIU has moved against the Huskies. If anything, numbers have tended to trend slightly in NIU’s direction, including last week at Purdue when the Huskies were modestly bet up from 3 to 4 at most Las Vegas wagering outlets.
Although there was not much reaction to the earliest posted -9 for the Huskies this Saturday at Kent State, NIU’s support base has acted more like a growing groundswell each week. Perhaps because it mostly flies under the national radar in the MAC, price adjustments in Huskies games have tended to move slowly and inexorably, rather than in the quick bursts we see associated with many other well-supported “public” sides.
After QB Jordan Lynch and the explosive offense triggered last week’s 55-24 demolition of Big Ten rep Purdue, however, expect appetite for NIU to appear a bit more quickly in the marketplace, likely pushing this price up to the next key number at 10 against the Golden Flashes.
Whether 10 acts as a resistance point or not remains to be seen.
At least by jumping on the Huskies ASAP, those NIU backers are not going to have to worry about laying a double-digit price.
This number is very unlikely to drop, so Huskies supporters might as well get their positions now while the price remains in single digits.
Spread to wait on
Penn State Nittany Lions at Indiana Hoosiers (+3.5)
After home losses to Navy and Missouri in September, Indiana backers are laying low at the moment. So low, in fact, that they offered very little resistance when the price for this Saturday’s game versus Penn State was bet up from an opening 2.5 and right through a key number resistance point at 3 in early wagering action.
As of Monday afternoon, most Las Vegas wagering outlets were posting the Hoosiers at +3.5 or 4 for Saturday’s Big Ten clash at Bloomington.
We suspect that there is more run left in this price move toward the Nittany Lions, who have mostly offered good spread value for second-year coach Bill O’Brien; Penn State is now 11-5 its last 16 on the board.
Moreover, the marketplace will also begin to digest some of the hard-to-believe series trends that are so lopsided in the direction of the Nittany Lions, who have not lost straight up to the Hoosiers since entering the Big Ten in 1993 and have a spotless 16-0 straight up record all-time versus IU.
Don’t be surprised for this number to eventually test the next key numbers up the scale, perhaps all of the way up to the “big” 7, as buy pressure for Penn State doesn’t figure to abate anytime soon.
Later in the week, IU likely attracts some investors, but we advise Hoosier backers to sit tight for a few days to see how high this number inflates. No surprise if the Nittany Lions will be forced to lay near a full TD at sometime before kickoff, at which time we expect some IU money to materialize at the Nevada sports books.
Total to watch
West Virginia Mountaineers at Baylor Bears
Like those who like to see how many hot dogs Joey Chestnut can devour at the annual Nathan’s Contest each 4th of July at Coney Island, there is a similar curiosity in the wagering marketplace regarding the most-extreme “totals” each week. And along with Oregon, no team generates that sort of interest like high-octane Baylor, which hosts West Virginia on Saturday.
“Totals” devotees certainly recall the Bears-Mountaineers shootout last season in Morgantown, when Geno Smith tossed a whopping 8 TD passes for WVU in its wild 70-63 win.
Geno has graduated to the NFL, and the Mounties aren’t quite spinning the scoreboards as they were the past couple of seasons, but Baylor has definitely picked up the slack as it scores better than point-per-minute in the early going this season for HC Art Briles.
Baylor’s early schedule has been mostly flown under the national radar against the likes of Wofford, Buffalo and UL-Monroe, so this is the first time we’ll get to see how the marketplace reacts to a “total” on a featured Bears game. And after scoring 69, 70, and 70 in the first three, we anticipate some “over” pressure no matter where oddsmakers post the “total” for Saturday’s game vs. WVU.
With thin markets in earlier games, “totals” on Bear games to date still moved upward 2-3 points in the first three contests. Oddsmakers are also not expected to fool around any longer with “totals” involving teams like Baylor or Oregon; the books had no hesitation posting the Ducks’ “total” vs. Cal in the low 80s last week, though the knowledge of upcoming monsoon-like conditions in Eugene prevented excessive buy pressure on the “over” for Ducks-Bears.
We’re very curious to see how the marketplace reacts to the next “total” involving Baylor...especially if weather forecasts are for a fast track in Waco.