There’s a Big Ten instate battle highlighting Week 8 in college football, but it’s another Big Ten matchup that seems more intriguing to bettors. Covers checks in on the action and line movement for a handful of Saturday’s contests, with insights from John Murray, sportsbook manager at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, and Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill US.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes at Purdue Boilermakers – Open: +14; Move: +13.5; Move: +13; Move: +12.5; Move: +12
Ohio State remains among the ranks of the unbeaten, though it has struggled to beat the oddsmakers. The Buckeyes (7-0 SU, 2-5 ATS) topped Minnesota 30-14 in Week 7, but fell well short of covering the 30.5-point spread, failing to cash for the third straight week and fourth time in five weeks.
Purdue dumped its first three, but rebounded with three consecutive wins and has cashed in its last four outings. The Boilermakers (3-3 SU, 4-2 ATS) had no trouble at Illinois in Week 7, rolling 46-7 as 10.5-point favorites.
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“A lot of sharp action on Purdue, both in town and offshore, has pushed this number down to Purdue +12,” Murray said of this 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff. “Based on what I’ve seen from the Buckeyes’ defense, I can’t blame those backing the Boilermakers.”
William Hill US books in Nevada and New Jersey opened Ohio State -13.5, briefly hit 14 early in the week, then fell back to 12.5 by Friday afternoon.
“Sharps are definitely on the ‘dog,” Bogdanovich said. “The public will be on the favorite, so we’ll probably need the sharp side in Purdue.”
No. 7 Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans – Open: +7; Move: +6.5; Move: +7; Move: +7.5
Michigan looks to run its winning streak to seven games in a battle for Great Lakes State bragging rights. The Wolverines (6-1 SU, 4-3 ATS) blasted Wisconsin 38-10 as 10-point home faves in Week 7.
Michigan State is coming off a sizable upset, going to Penn State as a 13.5-point pup and leaving with a 21-17 victory on a last-minute touchdown. The Spartans (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS) have also owned their rivalry against the Wolverines, going 8-2 SU and 10-0 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
The Superbook’s line spent literally a couple minutes at 6.5 midweek and has since made its way to 7.5.
“Sharp groups laying the Wolverines as the road favorite in this game,” Murray said of action on the noon ET matchup.
William Hill US opened Michigan -7 and also went to 7.5.
“We’re still pretty even to it,” Bogdanovich said. “It might be sharps on Michigan, and I’m assuming the public will be on Michigan today.”
No. 11 Oregon Ducks at No. 23 Washington State Cougars – Open: Pick; Move: -1.5; Move: -2; Move: -2.5; Move: -3
Oregon bounced back nicely after fouling up late against Stanford, turning an all-but-certain win into an overtime loss. The Ducks (5-1 SU, 2-4 ATS) won and cashed the next two games, including a 30-27 Week 7 overtime victory against Washington catching 3.5 points at home.
Washington State, coming off a bye week, also has just one blemish on its record. The Cougars (6-1 SU) lead the nation with a perfect 7-0 ATS mark, though they narrowly cashed as 18.5-point faves in a 56-37 win at Oregon State in Week 6.
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“I don’t understand the move up from pick, but we’re pretty even to the game,” Bogdanovich said of another 7:30 p.m. ET start. “It’s good two-way action, we’re up to 3, but it’ll probably close lower.”
The Superbook also opened the game pick and saw the line surge toward the Cougars.
“We had one sharp player take Wazzu -2.5 and the number pushed up to -3,” Murray said. “Most of the public bettors are on the Ducks.”
No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners at Texas Christian Horned Frogs – Open: +7.5; Move: +8; Move: +7.5
Oklahoma is coming off a bye week after losing its annual neutral-site clash with Texas in Week 6. The Sooners (5-1 SU, 2-4 ATS) were in constant rally mode against the Longhorns, trailing 45-24 in the fourth quarter and ultimately falling just short 48-45 giving 7 points at the Cotton Bowl.
The 2018-19 campaign has been a bumpy one so far for TCU, which has regularly been a top-20 outfit during Gary Patterson’s tenure. The Horned Frogs (3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS) lost to Texas Tech in a Week 7 Thursday nighter, 17-14 as 7.5-point home favorites.
“Not much in there on this game yet, and the action is pretty even,” Murray said of a noon ET meeting in which the line went back to 7.5 Friday night.
William Hill US also opened the Sooners -7.5 and moved to 8.
“So far, all Oklahoma money,” Bogdanovich said. “It looks like the public will be on Oklahoma, too.”
Mississippi State Bulldogs at Louisiana State Tigers – Open: -6.5; Move: None
Louisiana State rebounded from its first loss of the season with an eye-opening victory. The Tigers (6-1 SU, 4-3 ATS) were 7-point home underdogs to Georgia in Week 7, but showed up big in a 36-16 rout.
Mississippi State, which started quickly at 3-0 SU and ATS, enters this 7 p.m. ET clash off a bye week. Prior to that, the Bulldogs (4-2 SU and ATS) halted a two-game skid by dropping Auburn 23-9 as 3-point home ‘dogs.
“It’s decent action, but pretty much two-way,” Bogdanovich said. “We haven’t been off of 6.5.”
The Superbook also held strong on its opening number.
“Most of the money is on LSU so far, but the line has stayed put at 6.5,” Murray said.
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Other matchups seeing noteworthy action:
• North Carolina State at Clemson, 3:30 p.m. ET: “The public loves the ‘dog here, with tickets about 4/1 on the Wolf Pack,” Murray said. “Despite the public support for North Carolina State, this line has gone from -17 to -17.5, a good sign for Clemson.”
• Maryland at Iowa, noon ET: The Hawkeyes opened -12.5 at William Hill US shops, but Terrapins cash took the number down to 9 by Friday evening. “There’s been some sharp money for Maryland, but the public is on the other side," Bogdanovich said.
• Arizona at UCLA, 10:30 p.m. ET: The Pac-12 After Dark matchup saw a sizable move at William Hill US, from Bruins -7 to -10. Arizona will be without quarterback Khalil Tate (ankle). “The sharps were laying 7, 7.5 early in the week, and Tate’s not playing,” Bogdanovich said in explaining the line movement. “It’s the combination of a little money and a little information.”
• Buffalo at Toledo, noon ET: The Bulls opened 1.5-point underdogs and were bet to 1-point favorites. “Not a lot to it, but a little bit of Buffalo money,” Bogdanovich said.
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.