It’s a solid Saturday of college football, with several appealing matchups, none bigger than a battle on the Bayou tonight. Covers checks in on the action and line movement for a handful of Week 10 games, with insights from John Murray, director of The SuperBook at Westgate; Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US; and Scott Shelton, sportsbook supervisor at The Mirage on the Vegas Strip.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 4 Louisiana State Tigers – Open: +15; Move: +14.5; Move: +14; Move: +14.5; Move: +15; Move: +14.5
Alabama is again a monster favorite, even though a top-five team awaits in a night game at Death Valley. The Crimson Tide (8-0 SU, 5-3 ATS) haven’t had a result closer than three touchdowns, including a 58-21 pummeling of Tennessee as 29.5-point road favorites in Week 8, before a bye last week.
Louisiana State is also coming off a bye and hoping to keep itself firmly in the College Football Playoff conversation. The Tigers (7-1 SU, 5-3 ATS) fell at Florida in Week 6, rebounded with a home upset of Georgia in Week 7, then topped Mississippi State 19-3 as 5-point home faves in Week 8.
“Most of the tickets are on LSU. A lot of public support for the ‘dog,” Murray said of action for this 8 p.m. ET showdown. “Money is pretty even, a little more on Alabama because all the pointspread parlays and moneyline parlays are on Alabama.”
Bogdanovich sang a similar tune at William Hill US, where ‘Bama opened -14 and ticked up to -14.5 midweek.
“Right now, we’re pretty even on straight bets, but all the parlays are on Alabama,” he said. “We’ll need LSU for sure.”
No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs at No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats – Open: +9.5; Move: +9
Georgia, which reached the CFP championship game last season before losing to Alabama, aims to stay in the playoff picture in another key Southeastern Conference game. The Bulldogs (7-1 SU, 4-4 ATS) bounced back from an upset loss to LSU by beating Florida 36-17 laying 7 points last week, in a neutral-site contest in Jacksonville.
Kentucky will get an opportunity to prove it’s the real deal in this 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff. The Wildcats (7-1 SU, 4-4 ATS) narrowly dodged defeat last week, getting a TD on the game’s final play for a 15-14 victory at Missouri catching 7.5 points.
“Same scenario as Alabama-LSU, dead even, and all the parlays are to Georgia,” Bogdanovich said, noting he expects William Hill US to need the home ‘dog.
The SuperBook also opened Georgia -9.5, spent most of the week at 9 and dipped to 8.5 Friday night.
“Not that much money, and it’s pretty much 50/50,” Murray said. “People are maybe not realizing how good Kentucky is, and they’re just distracted by the other high-profile games.”
No. 13 Penn State Nittany Lions at No. 5 Michigan Wolverines – Open: -10; Move: -10.5; Move: -11; Move: -11.5
Michigan fell at Notre Dame in Week 1, but hasn’t lost a game since then. The Wolverines (7-1 SU, 5-3 ATS) had a bye in Week 9, after besting Michigan State 21-7 laying 7.5 points on the road in Week 8.
Penn State dropped two big games at home that it could’ve won, against Ohio State and Michigan State, then got back on track with a couple of close victories. In Week 9, the Nittany Lions (6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS) held off Iowa 30-24 as 5.5-point home favorites.
“We’re not in too bad of shape,” Bogdanovich said of this 3:45 p.m. ET start. “Sharps were on Michigan early, they laid it. But that game will be decided by what comes in (today).”
The SuperBook opened Michigan -10 and reached 12.5 before ticking back to 12.
“There’s a lot of money on the game, but it’s pretty split here,” Murray said. “We’re mostly moving with the market.”
No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Northwestern Wildcats – Open: +8; Move: +9.5; Move: +10; Move: +10.5; Move: +10
Notre Dame brings its perfect record and CFP hopes into this 7:15 p.m. ET clash. The Fighting Irish (8-0 SU, 5-3 ATS) plowed past Navy 44-22 in Week 9, narrowly cashing as 21.5-point faves in a neutral-site game in San Diego.
Northwestern is on a four-game winning streak, after losing three in a row. In Week 9, the Wildcats (5-3 SU, 4-3-1 ATS) built a 31-10 lead against visiting Wisconsin and coasted to a 31-17 victory as 3.5-point home pups.
“Some sharp groups laying points with the Irish,” Murray said of mostly early-week action that bumped this line up. “We haven’t seen buyback yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it came.”
William Hill US opened Notre Dame -8 and was up to -10 by Thursday afternoon.
“Straight bets are dead even, but the parlays, teasers and moneyline parlays are all to Notre Dame,” Bogdanovich said.
Louisville Cardinals at No. 2 Clemson Tigers – Open: -38; Move: -39; Move: -39.5; Move: -40
This matchup would normally be a footnote, except that unbeaten Clemson is creating large liability for The Mirage and other MGM Resorts sportsbooks. The Tigers (8-0 SU, 4-4 ATS) enter this noon ET meeting after a 59-10 boatracing of Florida State as 18-point road favorites last week.
Louisville is finding the terrain quite rough in the post-Lamar Jackson era. The star quarterback moved on to the NFL after last season, and the Cardinals are a dismal 2-6 SU and 1-7 ATS. Louisville went off as 2.5-point home chalk to Wake Forest last week and lost 56-35.
“By far, this is the biggest game I’ve seen for us,” Shelton said. “We’ve got the Duffel Bag Bettor on it, another big player on it, the public is on it. It’s all Clemson.”
The Duffel Bag Bettor has the Tigers on two parlays: a $50,000 two-teamer of Clemson (-39) and Toledo (-19.5), already halfway in after the Rockets easily covered Wednesday against Ball State; and a $20,000 three-teamer of Toledo, Clemson (-39) and Minnesota laying 9.5 at Illinois.
In other noteworthy games today:
• West Virginia at Texas, 3:30 p.m. ET: “The public definitely is on Texas, ticket count 3/1,” Murray said. “I heard some sharper groups were taking West Virginia. To me, it’s a tossup.” The Longhorns opened -1 at The SuperBook and have spent the past couple of days at -2.
• Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET: MGM books opened the Sooners -10 and saw bettors push the number to -13.5. “That one’s shaping up to be a big decision,” Shelton said. “It’s a one-sided ticket count of 5/1 on Oklahoma. We’re gonna need the ‘dog.”
• Utah at Arizona State, 4 p.m. ET: William Hill US had the Utes at -7 all week, but Bogdanovich figured 7.5 was coming, and it did late Friday night. “A lot of money for Utah. We’ll definitely need ASU for a pretty good decision.”
• Nebraska at Ohio State, noon ET: MGM books opened the Buckeyes -21 and dipped to -17.5, but the line rebounded to -19 by Friday night. “We’re starting to see some Ohio State money, sharp play and over-the-counter public play,” Shelton said. “Ticket count is 8/1 on Ohio State.”
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.