Seventeen of 25 college football games feature double digit odds
We're on our way already into the college football season and one of its anticipated traditions has already taken place. No, it's not a Nick Saban temper tantrum or a triple overtime game. Last Saturday Stanford traveled half way around the world to bury Rice 62-7 in Australia. The line was anywhere from -30 to -32 at most top offshore sportsbooks. That's right -32. Another annual tradition for Week One in NCAA College Football.
The economics of college football mean one smaller university is more than glad to throw themselves in a sacrificial slaughter for a big payday and a chance for national television exposure. September and especially early September is way too early for conference play, meaning top conference teams from the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pacific Coast Conference, etc. need guaranteed wins to secure their early poll position for later in the season. Welcome Georgia Southern, Bethune Cookman, etc. to the arena. You would have to feel sorry for the "+32 players" and wonder what they are thinking not getting paid?
An observation from major sportsbook BetOnline lists SEVENTEEN out of the 25 games on the college football betting board this Saturday with double-digit spreads. Of those, four in the 20's and two in the 30's. Imagine if the NFL had similar circumstances? Despite Commissioner Goodell's insistence that gambling does not exist and only the integrity of the game matters, would anybody be reaching for their remote controls to watch? Surely, only the most hardcore fans would care and anyone within their right minds would still be enjoying precious remaining time on the beach before the Fall.
But don't be fooled, as we know these often can be excellent hand-picked wagering opportunities. The question is, "Do you like Penn State -30 or Akron with more than four TD's? How about Auburn -34.5 over Georgia Southern? If you like Auburn, you'd be wise to head over to Bovada, where Auburn is currently listed at only -34. That might make a huge difference on Saturday night.
The game that interests me is Clemson -39.5 over Kent University. The Over/Under Total is also listed at 51 at BetOnline. Why not bet a parlay to really hold wagering interest? I say Clemson and Under. Doing the math that would mean that Kent cannot score more than 10 points and Clemson cannot score more than 40 while shutting down Kent. As strange as this sounds, you would be shocked and amazed how often these dual circumstances occur. Look for Kent to not put up more than a TD at most. And Clemson to perhaps play all 95 players on their sidelines preparing for the season ahead.
The Game Plan
Speaking of the game strategy, if you are going to bet these non-competitive games, prepare for perhaps the most wagering excitement and potential heartbreak. Keep in mind, despite every college head coach very aware under oath they know the point spread, it is the last thing on their mind come the fourth quarter and especially the last five minutes of the game. In fact, visually these games can often resemble NFL pre-season action at times. As you may notice the close to 100 players occupying college team sidelines, for many this is their only opportunity to play. And often for coaches to evaluate their skills for the future. That could be at your nervous late moment of wagering spread action of one team up or down 45 points.
Oklahoma is at home at Norman this Saturday -42 vs. UTEP. New coach Lincoln Riley will be leading the Sooners for the first time in many years now that Bob Stoops has retired. Hot-shot QB Baker Mayfield will be looking to put up as many points as possible to help enforce their current #7 ranking and possibly impress pollsters up a notch or two.
That doesn't mean a 35 or 45-point victory would make a difference and substituting third-string players on defense late in the game could be a very viable option. But perhaps not for a bettor looking to cover a 43.5 spread. Wagering history has proven that is equally probable for the favorite to score a meaningless touchdown to pad a hopelessly out of touch victory. On the other hand, for the dog to score with their first team late in the game to kill your wager.
The one constant that remains the same is that potential half point or full point making a huge difference. Whether the game be -3 or -43, the rule stays the same: SHOP AROUND through the list of preferred sportsbooks to not second guess yourself later.
One special and unique opportunity to pay attention to this Saturday are the "halftime lines" offered by the list of top online sportsbooks. Many sharp bettors take advantage of this once a year chance to sample the large menu of mismatched opponents. Immediately as halftime ends, take note of the first click of action changing the halftime lines, indicating sharp bettors handpicking opportunities.
For example, USC-29 could be up 38-3 at halftime over Western Michigan this Saturday. That might indicate a good potential play on Western Michigan +7.5 in the second half with USC resting Heisman favorite QB Sam Darnold and the rest of their offense. Again, shopping around and paying attention to the flow of action is the best indicator. Plus, unlike NFL halftimes, you have a few extra minutes to prepare and get your wagers in.
Overall, this is NOT the week for the casual college football fan to watch for thrilling last-second endings. Unless you're wagering, best to get your last chance at the beach before preparing for the Fall and Winter football betting.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.