Where the action is: Bowl season's biggest line moves

Dec 11, 2012 |
College football bowl odds have been out for just over a week now and action has steadily come in, forcing oddsmakers to tinker with the spreads heading into the first slate of games.

We talk to Aaron Kessler, sportsbooks supervisor at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, about the biggest line moves on the bowl board so far:

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl:  – Toledo Rockets vs. Utah State Aggies - Open: -8, Move: -10

This game is one of two matchups ringing in the bowl season Saturday. Utah State, which lost just two games and went 10-1-1 ATS this season, has jumped from -8 to -10 versus the Rockets, who finished 9-3 SU.

“Right now, we have a little more on Utah State,” says Kessler, who opened the Aggies as 10-point favorites. “I think the move you saw (at online books) was early money hitting a rouge number.”

Las Vegas Bowl: Washington Huskies vs. Boise State Broncos – Open: -7.5, Move: -5

This game will see a ton of action in Las Vegas on Dec. 22, with fans from both sides hitting the sportsbook before making the trip to Sam Boyd Stadium. Boise State, known for its bowl game antics, has been bet down by early action after opening as high as -7.5.

“Boise State has had a silent year. People kind of forgot about them,” says Kessler. “This one could come down to which teams fans bring the most money with them (to Las Vegas).”

Belk Bowl: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Duke Blue Devils – Open: +10.5, Move: +7

Money has faded the Bearcats since the announcement that head coach Butch Jones would be leaving for Tennessee. Cincinnati has since hired Tommy Tuberville as his replacement but will hand the keys over to the remaining coaching staff for the Belk Bowl.

“Duke’s going to be really hungry in this one because it’s been so long between bowl games,” says Kessler, referring to the Blue Devils’ 17-year bowl absence since playing in the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl. “Duke is going to be jacked up.”

Russell Athletic Bowl: Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Virginia Tech Hokies – Open: Pick, Move: -2.5

Early money has leaned towards the Hokies in this ACC/Big East battle on Dec. 28. Kessler, who opened Virginia Tech -1.5, took some big wagers on the Hokies this past week.

“We got hit on Virginia Tech and moved to -2.5,” he says. “It’s been really hard to bet on Virginia Tech this season, but they are clearly the better of the two teams.”

Armed Forces Bowl: Rice Owls vs. Air Force Falcons – Open: +1, Move: -1

This spread jumped the fence after opening with the Falcons as 1-point underdogs at some online shops. The Golden Nugget opened Air Force -1 and has taken a little bit of action on this Dec. 29 contest, with a slight lean towards Rice.

“They’re pretty much at home. It’s just a short drive across the state,” Kessler says of the Owls’ proximity to Fort Worth.

Liberty Bowl: Iowa State Cyclones vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane – Open: -3, Move: Pick

The Golden Hurricane opened as high as field-goal favorites for this New Year’s Eve bowl but money has jumped on the Cyclones and current has most shops dealing a pick’em.

“This looks like a conference power play, with the Big 12 going against the C-USA,” says Kessler. “Tulsa can be pretty exciting though. If they solve that defense this game could be over in a hurry.”

Sugar Bowl: Louisville Cardinals vs. Florida Gators – Open: -15.5, Move: -13

Some books opened Florida as a monster favorite but drew early UL money and have since come down to -13. Kessler opened at -13 and has taken nothing but Gators bets but could see the line shrink even more.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t go higher,” he says. “I think the wise guys will take back on Louisville.”

GoDaddy.com Bowl: Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Arkansas State Redwolves – Open: Pick, Move: -4

Both teams have watched their head coaches run to bigger schools this postseason, leaving Kent State and Arkansas State in the hands of assistants for this Jan. 6 bowl game.

The early money flooded in on ASU when rumors started about KSU’s Darrell Hazell departure to Purdue. Now, bets are coming back on the Golden Flashes with Gus Malzahn taking the open job at Auburn.

“I think it hurts Arkansas State more,” Kessler says of the two coaching changes. “Malzahn is a genius and I don’t know how much of his system his assistants were able to absorb.”

Check out all the bowl season line moves on our NCAAF live odds page.

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