College football rolls into Week 12, with the most noteworthy game not on a college campus, but rather at an iconic baseball stadium. Covers checks in on the action and line movement for a few matchups, with insights from John Murray, director of The SuperBook at Westgate; Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US; and Chuck Esposito, sportsbook director at Sunset Station.
No. 12 Syracuse Orange vs. No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Open: -9; Move: -10; Move: -10.5. Move: -11; Move: -10.5; Move: -10
Notre Dame is right in the thick of the College Football Playoff conversation, with an unblemished record and two remaining games. The Fighting Irish (10-0 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) pasted Florida State 42-13 as 17-point home favorites in Week 11.
Quarterback Ian Book sat out that contest with a rib injury, but he’s expected back for this 2:30 p.m. ET neutral-site kickoff at Yankee Stadium.
Syracuse, which nearly beat Clemson on the road in September, has won its last four games SU and three in a row ATS. The Orange (8-2 SU, 7-2-1 ATS) thumped Louisville 54-23 as 20-point home faves in Week 11.
“This number went from Notre Dame -9 to Notre Dame -11 due to Book being back in at QB for the Irish,” Murray said. “Most of the tickets have actually been on the Orange plus the points, and we moved the number back down to 10. We also took a $30,000 bet from a house player on Over 65 Friday afternoon and moved the total up to 66.”
Sunset Station and other Station books around Las Vegas opened Notre Dame -9.5 and went to -10 on Thursday afternoon.
“Notre Dame sits at No. 3 in the polls, but this may be its toughest test to date,” Esposito said. “Syracuse has a talented D and one of the best pass-rush groups in the country. But is that enough to upset the Irish? The Irish have averaged almost 40 points per game over their last seven.
“Early ticket count favors the Orange. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this game come down a bit prior to kickoff.”
No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers at Oklahoma State Cowboys – Open: +5; Move: +5.5; Move: +5: Move: +4.5; Move: +5; Move: +5.5; Move: +6.5
With a good next couple of weeks and some misfortune from teams higher up in the rankings, West Virginia could play itself into CFP contention. The Mountaineers wiped out Texas Christian 47-10 laying 13.5 points at home last week.
Oklahoma State is sitting at just .500 with two games remaining, just trying to gain bowl eligibility. The Cowboys (5-5 SU and ATS) gave archrival Oklahoma all it could handle in Week 11, falling 48-47 despite as heavy 21.5-point underdogs.
“Public support for the Mountaineers has moved this number up from West Virginia -4.5 to -6.5,” Murray said of a 3:30 p.m. ET contest. “As a West Virginia alum, I’m nervous about this game. Classic lookahead spot, with Oklahoma looming next Friday night.”
William Hill US opened West Virginia -5.5, spent much of the week at -5, then shot to -6.5 Friday.
“It’s all West Virginia money, probably public and sharp,” Bogdanovich said.
No. 22 Iowa State Cyclones at No. 19 Texas Longhorns – Open: -3; Move: -2.5; Move: -3; Move: -2.5
Texas had a six-game winning streak that included a victory at Oklahoma, then hit a speed bump before recovering last week. The Longhorns (7-3 SU, 4-5-1 ATS) fended off Texas Tech 41-34 laying 2 points on the road.
Iowa State is having its second consecutive good year, certainly by the standards in Ames. The Cyclones (6-3 SU and ATS) dispatched Baylor 28-14 giving 17 points at home in Week 11.
“Most of the money and tickets are on Texas in this game, but the market moved the other way,” Murray said of a half-point dip in the line. “This could be the second-best game of the weekend behind Syracuse-Notre Dame. That says a lot about this weekend in college football.”
William Hill US opened Texas -2.5 and quickly went to -3 on Monday, but the number went back to -2.5 Thursday on some Iowa State cash for this 8 p.m. ET meeting.
“That could be a combination of both sharp and public money,” Bogdanovich said.
No. 18 Michigan State Spartans at Nebraska Cornhuskers – Open: +1; Move: +1.5; Move: +2; Move: +2.5; Move: +2: Move: +1.5; Move: +1; Move: Pick; Move: -1
Nebraska started this year in historically bad fashion, losing its first six games (1-4-1 ATS). However, the Huskers (3-7 SU, 4-5-1 ATS) are 3-1 SU and ATS since then, including last week’s 54-35 victory over Illinois as 17-point home favorites.
Michigan State has been up and down all season, with Week 11 marking another down week. The Spartans (6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS) got nothing going against Ohio State in a 26-6 loss as 3.5-point home pups.
“I’ve seen sharp money on both sides of this game, and the number has bounced around a little bit, getting as high as Michigan State -2.5,” Murray said, noting from there it went down to pick midday Friday, then jumped the fence to Huskers -1 Friday night. “I lean Nebraska here at home.”
William Hill US opened Michigan State -1.5 and rose to -2 early in the week, but the noon ET game was at pick by Friday afternoon.
“All the money’s for Nebraska,” Bogdanovich said. “I think it’s the public and sharps both on Nebraska.”
Other notable games on the Saturday slate:
• Southern California at UCLA, 3:30 p.m. ET: Both teams are having bad years, particularly UCLA (2-8 SU, 4-6 ATS), but this game is still getting attention in Las Vegas. “The money has all been on UCLA, and the number has come down from the Bruins +3.5 to +2.5,” Murray said. “Seems very cheap to me. I like USC at that number.” The line ticked back up to USC -3 late Friday night.
• Ohio State at Maryland, noon ET: William Hill US opened the Buckeyes -17 and was down to -14 by Friday afternoon. “We’re actually high on Maryland,” Bogdanovich said. “Sharps obviously on Maryland, and the public is on Ohio State.”
• Wisconsin at Purdue, 3:30 p.m. ET: “It looks like the sharps on are on Wisconsin,” Bogdanovich said. The Badgers opened as 5.5-point underdogs and tightened to +4 by Friday.
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.