Oddsmakers and Bettors React to College Football’s Week 1
Nearly three months of starring at the same matchups and point spreads and while I was able to net a small profit, I for one am glad college football’s Week 1 is in the rear view mirror. There were things I spotted throughout my preseason research that played out accordingly and others where my projection has been tossed in the trash. But starting this week, projections start to give way to results. And with results, you have reactions by both oddsmakers and the betting markets. And with those reactions you have the potential for some great betting opportunities. Let’s take a look at some of Week 2’s point spreads that appear to have been influenced significantly by what took place in Week 1.
Ohio at Pittsburgh
CRIS Opener: Pittsburgh -6.5
CRIS Current: Pittsburgh -5.5
Analysis: We saw a steady stream of anti-Pitt money throughout the summer; the correct move as the Panthers were handled by Virginia, 30-14. It’s very common to see the market move on or against a team in which there was a significant and accurate move the week prior. And while Ohio didn’t cover in Week 1 (40-21 win over Rhode Island), the Bobcats are viewed by many as the class of the MAC.
Vanderbilt at Purdue
CRIS Opener: Purdue -9.5
CRIS Current: Purdue -7.5
Analysis: For all the hype surrounding Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm, the Boilermakers have a habit of disappointing their backers. Purdue took a ton of money in Week 1 at Nevada, led 31-17 midway through the third quarter, and ended up losing on a last second field goal — adding insult to injury, the kicker received a much publicized scholarship for his efforts. That type of loss tends to stick with bettors which is why we’ve seen Vanderbilt support with the market potentially headed towards 7. And it probably would have gotten there already had the Commodores not been outclassed by Georgia (481-225 total yards).
West Virginia at Missouri
CRIS Opener: Missouri -10.5
CRIS Current: Missouri -14
Analysis: The markets tends to really react when an FBS team loses or struggles vs. an FCS team. That was the case with West Virginia who limped past James Madison, 20-13. The Mountaineers were outgained (red flag) and were +3 in turnovers (bigger red flag). And on the other side, we have a Missouri team that was embarrassed on the road in a loss to Wyoming. Note that the Tigers saw plenty of market support in that game. With the confirmation that there’s some rebuilding to be done in Morgantown, this is the first of what should be multiple attempts to fade the Mountaineers.
South Florida at Georgia Tech
CRIS Opener: Georgia Tech -6
CRIS Current: Georgia Tech -6
Analysis: No real line movement (yet) but the opening point spread is fairly telling. Few teams garnered more doubt and distaste during the preseason than Georgia Tech with a first-year head coach and a completely new system needed to be installed. And that’s exactly how Week 1 played out as the Yellow Jackets were unsurprisingly manhandled by Clemson, 52-14. But this point spread has little to do with Georgia Tech. When you get shutout at home on national TV, everyone notices. South Florida looked horrendous in its 49-0 loss to Wisconsin. With a healthy Blake Barnett under center and the hiring of offensive “guru” Kerwin Bell, it obviously wasn’t a good sign that the Bulls failed to score a single point. Had this game taken place in Week 1, it’s likely we would have seen this matchup close to a pick ’em or USF slight favorites.
Western Michigan at Michigan State
CRIS Opener: Michigan State -17.5
CRIS Current: Michigan State -16
Analysis: You can promise the world but sometimes, you are who you are. Nearly all of Michigan State’s preseason coverage centered on the projected improvement of last season’s pedestrian offense. Instead, the Spartans gained only 303 total yards in a lackluster 28-7 win over Tulsa. Per usual, MSU’s defense did its part by holding the Golden Hurricane to a measly 80 yards but in a prime spot to see some offense, bettors got the same old bogged down unit, and as a result, see no reason to offer their support. It doesn’t hurt that Western Michigan had no trouble in its 48-13 win over Monmouth.
Buffalo at Penn State
CRIS Opener: Penn State -24
CRIS Current: Penn State -29.5
Analysis: When you lose 49-0, like USF did, bettors notice. The same can be said and some when you win 79-7 like Penn State did over Idaho. The Vandals are in their second season of FCS play and despite the drop in competition, produced a 4-7 record last season. Plus I don’t even want to think about how difficult the travel situation was from Moscow, Idaho to State College. Adding to this week’s move is a Buffalo squad that is expected to take a big step back after last year’s 10-4 output.
California at Washington
CRIS Opener: Washington -12.5
CRIS Current: Washington -14
Analysis: There were a lot of bettors, myself included, that were curious to see if Washington’s Jacob Eason would provide a spark to an offense that underachieved in 2018 (26.4 ppg). That and whether or not head coach Chris Peterson would allow the strong-armed Eason to sling it around. Those questions where answered (for now) in Week 1 as Eason threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns in a 47-14 win over Eastern Washington. Cal meanwhile failed to impress on the scoreboard in its 27-13 win over UC Davis. The Golden Bears did however dominate the box score (471-264 total yards) but were hampered by a -3 turnover margin. Note that Cal won last year’s meeting, 12-10 as +11.5 home chalk.
Oregon State at Hawaii
CRIS Opener: Hawaii -5
CRIS Current: Hawaii -6.5
Analysis: Don’t think that bettors didn’t notice the PAC-12’s 5-7 ATS tally in Week 1. And one of those point spread losses came courtesy of Oregon State who allowed Oklahoma State to roll up 52 points. Another of the PAC-12’s ATS losses — arguably the most glaring — was Arizona’s 45-38 home loss to Hawaii. Add it all up and we see the Rainbow Warriors -6.5 home chalk over the Beavers.
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