College Football Betting: Week 3 Point Spread Moves
With two weeks worth of games in the books, the college football betting markets are starting to formulate stronger opinions. Some of those opinions have clashed with those of oddsmakers. Let’s take a look at some of the more noteworthy early week point spread moves for Week 3.
Washington State at Houston
CRIS Opener: Washington State -6
CRIS Current: Washington State -9.5
Analysis: Bettors feeling confident Washington State is once again the real deal despite wins over New Mexico State and Northern Colorado and the 194th SOS according to Sagarin. And it’s not like oddsmakers haven’t continued to bump up the Cougs. Late last season, Wazzu closed -5.5 at Colorado and -10 vs. Arizona. Both teams finished with losing records. Houston was outgained by Oklahoma 686-408 though trailed by only 11 with two minutes to go. Tough opponent to draw Week 1 with a new head coach.
Ohio State at Indiana
CRIS Opener: Ohio State -13.5
CRIS Current: Ohio State -15.5
Analysis: The betting markets work in mysterious ways. A week ago, the Buckeyes opened -17 vs. Cincinnati and closed -14.5. They of course went on to win 42-0. Now we see the Buckeyes taking money, almost as if they needed to hammer the Bearcats in order for bettors to get on board with this team actually being pretty damn good. Given the cosmic nature of sports betting, it’s almost a lock the Buckeyes don’t cover this week. Jokes aside, the opener was a big adjustment from last year. Ohio State closed -27 at home vs. the Hoosiers, won but didn’t cover, 49-26.
Maryland at Temple
CRIS Opener: Maryland -5.5
CRIS Current: Maryland -7
Analysis: It was Howard and a disinterested and flat Syracuse squad but the Terps have no doubt looked the part. Amazing what happens when you go from a freshman quarterback who failed to complete 50% of his passes to a season vet in Josh Jackson who looks very comfortable running Mike Locksley’s offense. Note that this line shot up to as high as Maryland -8 before being bought back. The most fascinating angle in this game is how first-year Temple head coach Rod Carey decides to play it. Carey’s Northern Illinois teams were notoriously plodding yet reports say the Owls are determined to play fast and score points. Does he risk getting into a shootout against a team that has essentially begged its first two opponents to get into a shootout?
Iowa at Iowa State
CRIS Opener: Iowa State -1
CRIS Current: Iowa -2
Analysis: Never forget! Iowa State was perhaps a bit fortunate in their overtime win over Northern Iowa in Week 1 but a closer look at the box score shows the Cyclones held a 463-262 total yardage advantage. NIU helped its cause with a 53-yard fumble return touchdown. Note too that Iowa State comes in off of a bye week. Early season bye weeks generally don’t have all that much of an impact but Matt Campbell should be able to maximize its potential. A number of offshore sportsbooks have Iowa at -2.5. Given the likelihood of plenty of punts and field goals, any +3’s will be gladly eaten up.
Arizona State at Michigan State
CRIS Opener: Michigan State -11
CRIS Current: Michigan State -13.5
Analysis: It typically takes a lot for bettors to support Michigan State as a double-digit favorite. But they have two things working in their favor; one, they netted 582 yards and 51 points vs. Western Michigan last week and two, Arizona State is close to fielding an all underclassmen team. And the Sun Devils don’t appear all that attractive after limping past Sacramento State 19-7. There was a brief moment where this one looked headed to -14 but there’s some bettors out there who aren’t going to be swayed by Sparty’s outlier offensive explosion.
TCU at Purdue
CRIS Opener: Purdue -2.5
CRIS Current: TCU -2
Analysis: Fresh off of Big Ten offensive player of the week honors, Purdue quarterback Eliah Sindelar is listed as questionable with concussion symptoms. And in typical Purdue fashion, the markets decided to fade them last week and they went out and covered wire-to-wire vs. Vanderbilt. A lot of unknowns with TCU as the Horned Frogs beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Week 1, 39-7, and last week enoyed a bye. If Sindelar plays, look for Purdue to go off as short home chalk.
Clemson at Syracuse
CRIS Opener: Clemson -26
CRIS Current: Clemson -28
Analysis: I had a bit of fun playing the numbers game with this point spread. Clemson closed -15.5 (won 24-10) at home vs. Texas A&M meaning the Tigers would be around -11.5 on a neutral field. Clemson is currently -28 at Syracuse meaning they’d be around -31 on a neutral field. Combine the two and Texas A&M would in theory be -19.5 on a neutral field vs. Syracuse which on the surface seems rich. There’s more to the equation to consider, specifically how bad Syracuse looked last week against Maryland. It also doesn’t help that the Orange got a ho-hum 24-0 win at Liberty and the Flames were then outclassed at UL-Lafayette, 35-14. Still, we’re less than a year removed from Syracuse closing +24 in a 27-23 loss at Clemson. Pretty significant adjustment being made.
Oklahoma at UCLA
CRIS Opener: Oklahoma -19.5
CRIS Current: Oklahoma -23.5
Analysis: My good friend Eddie Walls pointed out that UCLA’s Chip Kelly looks almost accepting of the fact that his tenure is doomed. The Bruins faced two pretty good defenses in Cincinnati and San Diego State but aren’t you supposed to average more than four yards per play with an offensive “guru” at the helm? And with a bye week upcoming, the Sooners have less of a reason to call off the dogs late. If you flip flopped head coaches today, I’d bet UCLA in a heartbeat. As it is, UCLA smells an awful lot like Louisville circa 2018.
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