Where the action is: College football line moves

Nov 28, 2012 |
There may only be a handful of games on the college football slate but with conference championships highlighting the schedule, Week 14 is one of the most heavily-bet boards of the season.

We talk to Jay Rood, sportsbook director at the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas, about the biggest adjustments to the Week 14 odds and where those lines will end up come kickoff.

UCLA Bruins at Stanford Cardinal – Open: -10.5, Move: -8

It’s Round 2 between UCLA and Stanford after the two Pac-12 programs met last week. This time, however, the conference championship and a spot in the Rose Bowl are on the line.

The Cardinal crushed the Bruins 35-17 as 2.5-point road favorites last week, but many believe UCLA was holding back, knowing it would face Stanford the following week. Those believers are the ones moving this line, expecting a more spirited effort from the Bruins Friday night.

“There are some people who thought UCLA looked a little vanilla last week,” Rood told Covers. “They got to pick their poison – Oregon or Stanford – and maybe they were holding back. It seems like a lot of points to give a team that’s having a pretty good season.”

Central Florida Knights at Tulsa Golden Hurricane
– Open: +1, Move: -2

Tulsa made headlines in the betting community Tuesday when athletic director Ross M. Parmley was placed on leave after admitting he gambled on pro and college football until he quit in 2010.

That controversy hasn’t scared off early money, which is all over the Golden Hurricane at home. Early bettors moved them from slight underdogs to favorites at some books. Some believe the move is just a ploy to beef up the spread before buying back on UCF, however, Rood says the betting trends don’t quite fit the usual practice by sharp bettors.

“Usually you get the half-hearted plays if they’re going to dummy up a line. So far it’s been all full-limit plays on Tulsa,” he says. “Tulsa is a lot like the (Seattle) Seahawks and play much better at home (6-0 SU, 3-2 ATS).”

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs – Open: +8.5, Move: +7

The SEC Championship not only carries conference bragging rights but also a trip to the national title game, to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Jan. 7. This line has been bet down to an even touchdown, with early money on UGA. Since then, action has been steady on Alabama and books expect it to stay that way.

“We are getting more Alabama money now that we knocked the hook off,” says Rood, who went from +7.5 to +7. “I think we’ll get OK two-way action, but somewhere in the range of 60/40 in favor of Alabama. If it comes in too heavy we’ll make the move back to +7.5 but don’t want to have this thing land on seven.”

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Wisconsin Badgers – Open: +2.5, Move: +3

The early action on the Big Ten title game has been relatively split, with a slight lean towards Nebraska. Rood says it’s been pretty quick in terms of action but expects that to change as Saturday draws near.

“I would imagine Nebraska being the public side and wouldn’t be surprised to see this (spread) go up a little before or on game day,” he says.

South Alabama Jaguars at Hawaii Warriors
– Open: -3.5, Move: -6

This Sun Belt versus Mountain West matchup is the late night degenerate special in Week 14, with its 11 p.m. ET kickoff making it the last bet on the board. These games usually don’t see moves like this until after all others have kicked off, but early sharp money is on Hawaii with South Alabama dealing with an injured rushing attack and a long trip to paradise.

“It is what it is – the get-out game. You either get out even or get even deeper,” says Rood. “Everything is on Hawaii right now. Sharps have bet this as much as they can and it will probably go to -7. It has the look of a 'runaway' game.”

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