Winning in college football isn’t just about being ahead on the scoreboard when the final seconds tick off the clock. If that were the case, the LSU Tigers would still be ranked the No. 1 team in the country.
Louisiana State, which opened the 2012 campaign as the preseason No. 1, is undefeated heading into Week 6’s SEC showdown with the Florida Gators but has slid back to the No. 3 spot in the Top 25 due to unimpressive victories over Auburn and FCS Towson.
In fact, the Tigers have fallen short of expectations - oddsmakers’ expectations - in three of their five games so far, going 2-3 ATS. Last year, LSU had the reverse of that ATS record at this point in the schedule and finished the regular season 10-3 ATS – one of six teams with double-figure paydays.
Online books opened LSU as a 3-point road favorite heading into the Swamp this Saturday and that number has dropped below the field goal to -2.5 with money on the home side. However, some oddsmakers thought the line should be higher, recommending the Tigers as big as 6-point chalk in Gainesville.
Peter Korner, founder of the Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club, says all five of his college football oddsmakers had LSU higher than a 2.5-point favorite when they crunched the numbers Sunday. Korner says LSU’s slide in the polls and Florida’s 4-0 record have books trimming the opening spread.
“It’s a combo of everything,” he says. “We were obviously a little high with the number but those early moves are sharp money moves – not the betting public. And the fact that it has slipped below the key number of three, we’ll see this go back up."
“If you’re betting the favorite, you want to wait this one out. It’s all Florida money right now, there hasn't been any on LSU. But they have their following and their money.”
Here are the opening odds for some of Week 6’s biggest games:
Oklahoma Sooners at Texas Tech Red Raiders (+5)
The Sooners have had two weeks to put the upset loss to Kansas State behind them and focus on Texas Tech. Oklahoma opened as a 4-point road favorite and early money on OU has bumped the spread to -5 as of Monday morning.
There is an aura of revenge for this Saturday’s Big 12 battle as well. The Red Raiders defeated the Sooners 41-38 as 29-point underdogs last October, snapping Oklahoma’s 39-game home winning streak and dousing OU’s national title hopes.
Georgia Bulldogs at South Carolina Gamecocks (-2.5)
The Sports Club sent out South Carolina as a field-goal favorite for this SEC showdown. Books agreed and opened the Gamecocks -3, taking early money on the Bulldogs to shrink the spread to -2.5 as of Monday morning.
The winner of this battle of unbeaten programs will have the inside track in the SEC East, especially if Florida falls to LSU. The Gamecocks have won the last two meetings with the Bulldogs SU and ATS, and are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five encounters.
Nebraska Cornhuskers at Ohio State Buckeyes (-4.5)
Without the promise of a postseason, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer may struggle for motivation at times this season. But, Week 6 isn’t one of those times. The undefeated Buckeyes welcome No. 20 Nebraska to Columbus and books have tabbed them as 4.5-point favorites. The Huskers topped OSU, 34-27, at home last October, coming back from a 27-6 third-quarter deficit.
The Sports Club sent out a suggested spread of OSU -3.5 and it seems bettors agree with that number, taking the opening spread of -5 down to -4.5 as of Monday morning. The Cornhuskers escaped with a three-point win over Wisconsin at home last weekend and head to Ohio for just their second road game of season so far. Nebraska fell 36-30 to UCLA the last time they left Lincoln.
Check out the rest of the opening odds for Week 6 of the college football season.