How Sharps Are Betting College Championships
It's Championship Week in college football. I'm going to run through how sharps (professional wagerers) have been betting all the major and mid-major finales. First, let's take care of the Thursday Night NFL game matching the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys. (Games are presented in official Nevada rotation order so you can make notes in your schedules.)
Washington at Dallas: An opener of Dallas -1 has flipped favorites and been bet all the way to Washington -1.5. This is almost an exact replay of what happened for the Thanskgiving game between the LA Chargers and Dallas. You remember what happened in that one. Dallas barely showed up. Sharps have anticipated the recent Dallas decline, being ahead of what's turned out to be a very steep curve. This season, only distant also-rans would be home underdogs to Washington. Dallas is now being priced like a 4-12 type team. The Over/Under has been bet up from 44 to 46 because the Dallas defense has been so bad the last three weeks. Plus, Washington's defense isn't as good as that of the Chargers and Eagles in terms of shut down potential.
FRIDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL
USC vs. Stanford in the Pac 12 Championship: USC won the regular season meeting handily. Here, an opener of Trojans -3 has been bet up to -3.5 or -4 depending on the store. The game is being played at the 49ers home stadium, which is closer to Stanford but probably not much of a home field edge given the manageable travel distance from SoCal. Sharps who liked USC jumped in hard at -3. Dog lovers are taking Stanford +4 when it becomes available. I think the public will mostly be on USC up to Friday night's kickoff.
SATURDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL
North Texas at Florida Atlantic in the CUSA Championship: Florida Atlantic opened at -10. Lane Kiffin's team has been a good moneymaker this season. Sharps laid -10, and kept right on betting. A mix of sharp and square action has pushed the line to FAU -12 in some spots. Some dog buy back is likely eventually. Old school guys are seeing how high the line goes before stepping in. To this point, they're glad they waited.
Memphis at Central Florida in the American Athletic Championship: Nothing happening yet, with the opener of -7 standing pat. That actually tells you a lot. So many of the championship lines immediately went UP with sharps getting in ahead of the public. Here, nothing. That tells us sharps like the underdog and are hoping to get +7.5 before kickoff. Note that the games with FAU and UCF are on their home field rather than neutral sites.
Akron vs. Toledo in the MAC Championship: Big sharp support for heavy favorite Toledo. An opener of -18.5 is already up to -21.5. That's blown through the key number of 21 without any buy back on the underdog. Nobody wants Akron! Sports books will definitely be rooting for Akron in this one. The total is up 4.5 points from 54 to 58.5 for this indoor attraction.
Auburn vs. Georgia in the SEC Championship: Sharps really like the dog here. Georgia +3 was bet heavily out of the gate. After sitting on 2.5 for a few days, we're now seeing some stores test the two to see if that brings in any Auburn interest. The favorite is in a horrible letdown spot off a rivalry win, while the underdog also has revenge. Sharps who got the full three are very happy with their positions. We'll have to see what the public does Saturday. Will there be enough square interest on Auburn to create a tug-of-war? If not, we may see the number drop even further.
Fresno State at Boise State in the Mountain West Championship: The opener of Boise State -8.5 is up to -9.5. Eight's not a key number...so that's not all that big a move. But, it does suggest that Boise money got in early, and Fresno money is waiting to see if +10 hits the board before kickoff. In the past, squares would pound Boise State as a home favorite sight unseen. Less common now because that stopped working!
Clemson vs. Miami in the ACC Championship: Clemson was hit hard early at -7.5, which is telling because that already opened above the key number of seven. We got to -9.5 before Miami money started coming in. THEN, Miami suffered a receiving injury Wednesday which pushed the line back to Clemson -9.5. It might take the full 10 before sharp dog money returns. I wouldn't be surprised if a tug-of-war develops Saturday between the public on Clemson -9.5 and sharps on Miami +10.
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship: The opener of Ohio State -5.5 is up to -6.5. We have a mix here...as many of the quants always get gradings to Ohio State because they win so many blowouts. But, old school guys like fading the Buckeyes in big games (which worked again last week against Michigan, even though the Wolverines weren't at full strength). So, Wisconsin money is still sitting on the sidelines waiting to see of +7 comes into play before kickoff Saturday night. Quants were happy to get Ohio State at -6 or below.
Oklahoma vs. TCU in the Big 12 Championship: Oklahoma has been -7 all week. That means it's another game where the sharps MUST like the underdog because the line didn't go up right away. Dog lovers are hoping to get +7.5 before kickoff. That seems pretty likely because OU is getting more than half the action on the key number thus far...and squares love betting favorites in championship games. Would expect a tug-of-war Saturday between OU -7 and TCU +7.5.