Week 4 of the college football season is a mixed bag, with some heavyweights taking on one more Glass Joe before delving into conference play, and other big-name programs swinging into league play. Covers checks in on the action for several games, with insights from Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology in Las Vegas; Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US, also in Vegas; and an oddsmaker for offshore sportsbook BetNow.eu.
Oklahoma State is racking up points in prodigious fashion, and speaking of prodigious fashion, how about Mike Gundy’s hair? But we digress. The Cowboys (3-0 SU and ATS) are averaging a whopping 54 points per game, twice scoring 59, including in last week’s 59-21 wipeout of Pittsburgh on the road as a 10.5-point favorite.
Texas Christian is also 3-0 SU (1-2 ATS) and lighting up the scoreboard (49 ppg). But the Horned Frogs got much more than they expected last week from Southern Methodist. TCU trailed 19-7 in the second quarter and led 35-29 after three quarters before pulling away for a 56-36 victory as a 22-point home chalk.
“Oklahoma State seems to be a legit national title contender, with the way they’ve played, beating some good teams on the way,” Simbal said. “This game, not one we like to see as a bookmaker, because you have Oklahoma State, who’s been one of the favorite teams for the public to bet the last two weeks, considering how they’ve looked. This line opened at 11, and actually sharp action bet this game up to 13. And we know that the public is gonna come in behind that, so certainly not an enviable position in this game for the books.”
Some of that public follow-through may have come Thursday, when the line went to 14, though it backed down to 13 by Friday night for this 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff.
William Hill US opened the Cowboys -11 and saw that rise to 13.5 by midweek, though it ticked down to 13 late Friday.
“The public is all over Oklahoma State,” Bogdanovich said. “I’d imagine the wiseguys jump in (on TCU) at some point, probably waiting for 14.”
At BetNow.eu, the Pokes opened -11.5 and went to 13 by Friday afternoon, though bettors took that number back to 12.5 by Friday night. The total opened at 64 and shot up to 71.
No one was surprised by Mississippi State getting out of the gate 2-0 SU and ATS, with easy victories over Charleston Southern and at Louisiana Tech. But dominating LSU in Week 3? That was unexpected. Mississippi State rumbled over the Tigers 37-7 as a 7.5-point home underdog and aims to continue its run against another solid SEC opponent.
Georgia’s highlight so far is a 20-19 win at Notre Dame catching 5.5 points in Week 2. That victory was sandwiched between a 31-10 home win over Appalachian State as a 12.5-point fave and last week’s 42-14 victory over Samford laying a hefty 33 points at home.
“All the money is on Mississippi State,” Bogdanovich said of activity for this 7 p.m. ET clash in the SEC. “Everyone saw Mississippi State destroy LSU last week.
At CG books, including The Cosmopolitan and Venetian on the Vegas Strip, Mississippi State opened -6.5, was bet to 5.5 by midweek, then a big run took it down to 3 Friday evening.
“It’s early in the season, but Mississippi State has certainly impressed so far, coming in against Georgia, also with an impressive win against Notre Dame. So these are two pretty hot teams here,” Simbal said. “But so far, the backing of the public has been with the underdog Mississippi State team. The price on Georgia is shortening by the day.”
Georgia opened -6 at BetNow.eu, but heavier action on Mississippi State drew that down to 4 by Friday night.
West Virginia lost its opener to Virginia Tech, but bounced back by winning and cashing twice, heading into this noon ET Big 12 opener. The Mountaineers ripped Delaware State 59-16 last week as a ridiculous 62-point favorite.
Kansas (1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS) enters this game off back-to-back losses to Mid-American Conference teams Central Michigan and Ohio. Last week, the Jayhawks were 7.5-point pups at Ohio and fell 42-30.
“The sharps backed West Virginia. Not something we like to see as a book, because you know the public is never gonna bet on Kansas,” Simbal said.
Michigan got an impressive neutral-site win and cover over Florida in Week 1, but wasn’t nearly as impressive in failing to cover at home against Cincinnati and Air Force in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively. Last week, the Wolverines (3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS) led the Falcons just 16-13 well into the third quarter before pulling away to a 29-13 victory as a 23-point chalk.
Purdue (2-1 SU) has cashed in all three of its starts this season, entering this 4 p.m. ET Big Ten opener off blowout victories over Ohio and Missouri. The Boilermakers went on the road in Week 3 and bashed SEC foe Mizzou 35-3 as a 6-point underdog. Purdue’s lone loss was a 35-28 Week 1 setback to Louisville as a hefty 25.5-point underdog in Indianapolis.
“Believe it or not, we’re high on Purdue money,” Bogdanovich said, though he noted it’s not high enough to move the line yet. “There’s good action on this game, and it should be one of the better games of the day. I haven’t seen sharps on either side.”
BetNow.eu opened the Wolverines -10.5 and was still there Friday, but pointspread action favored the Boilermakers, and Purdue was also drawing moneyline action.
Notre Dame (2-1 SU and ATS) bounced back from its home loss to Georgia by beating up on Boston College in Week 3. The Fighting Irish won 49-20, easily cashing as a 14-point road fave.
Michigan State is out of the gate 2-0 SU and ATS, and coming off a bye week. Both of the Spartans’ wins were at home against MAC competition, 35-10 over Bowling Green giving 17.5 points in Week 1, and 28-14 against Western Michigan as a 7-point chalk.
“The professionals are on Michigan State for sure. Definitely on the ‘dog there,” Bogdanovich said of action for this 8 p.m. ET matchup.
Other games seeing noteworthy action and line movement:
• Rutgers at Nebraska: The Huskers lost at home to MAC foe Northern Illinois last week, then the school fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst on Thursday. Coach Mike Riley might not be far behind Eichorst if Nebraska doesn’t get things figured out. The Huskers opened -14 at William Hill books and dropped to -12 for this 3:30 p.m. ET start. “That might be more on information than money,” Bogdanovich said of the line move. “There’s all sorts of turmoil at Nebraska.”
• Syracuse at Louisiana State: The Tigers are smarting from last week’s stunning blowout loss at Mississippi State. Bettors have been on the Orange in this 7 p.m. ET game so far, taking LSU from -23.5 to -21.5. “Probably some sharp play for Syracuse at other books, but I didn’t see it,” Bogdanovich said.
• Duke at North Carolina: The Blue Devils go to Chapel Hill as chalk for this 3:30 p.m. clash, but the number is on the way down, with Duke bet from -3 to -1.5 by Friday evening at William Hill. “I think the professionals are on North Carolina, but we don’t have a lot on it,” Bogdanovich said.
• Georgia State at North Carolina-Charlotte: The line jumped the fence at William Hill, from Georgia State -3 to UNCC -1 in a 6 p.m. ET meeting of winless teams. “We’ve got some money on Charlotte, but not a lot. It’s a complete garbage game,” Bogdanovich said.
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.