2015 College Football: Week 2 Line Moves That Matter
Entering the second week of the College Football season we have already seen some massive upsets and epic blowouts while Ohio State and Alabama proved that they are the teams to beat this season.
Before we look ahead to some of the most interesting line movements for this week’s games, let’s take some time to appreciate the week that was. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller looked phenomenal in his first game at wide receiver and saw his Heisman odds better from +5500 to +1800. UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen looked extremely polished, passing for 351 yards and three touchdowns in his debut. This caused Rosen’s Heisman odds to move all the way from +7500 to +1500 — the ninth best odds in the nation.
In the upset of the week (and quite possibly the year), Portland State defeated Washington State despite closing as more than 50/1 long shots.
Portland State closed +5250 on the moneyline ($100 to make $5,250). https://t.co/N4C7crZ7no
— Sports Insights (@SportsInsights) September 5, 2015
As we look ahead to this weekend’s slate of games, Oregon at Michigan State is clearly the marquee matchup. However, public betting has been fairly even with 60% of spread bettors taking the Spartans (-3) at the time of publication. With that in mind, we look ahead to the three most interesting line moves for Week 2 of the College Football season.
Utah State at Utah (Friday at 9:00 PM eastern)
Although these two teams have not competed in the same conference since 1961, the Battle of the Brothers continues to be one of the more underrated rivalries in college athletics. Utah leads the all-time series 78-29-4 and have won 13 of the past 14 meetings. That type of dominance helps explain why Utah opened as a 12-point favorite at Pinnacle and are currently receiving 80% of spread bets.
This one-sided betting has pushed the Utes from -12 to -13 and, because there have been no bet signals triggered on the spread, we can safely assume that this line movement is purely based on public betting. In other words, opportunistic bettors can claim a free point by taking the Aggies at 13-point road dogs.
Bettors should know a few additional facts involving this game, starting with the fact that underdogs have been historically undervalued in both conference and rivalry games. Utah State also fits a number of previously discussed betting systems.
Utah is currently ranked 24th in the latest AP Top 25 and are receiving more than 65% of spread bets, which makes them ideal to fade. Utah State also piled up 140 rushing yards in their Week 1 victory over Southern Utah, and historically underdogs who can rush the ball effectively have been able to eat clock and cover large spreads. Finally, the over/under is currently 44.5 and ‘dogs have offered additional value in low-scoring games.
I’d like to stress that the only picks we endorse are our Best Bets (which are available to Pro customers), but there does appear to be some value on Utah State +13. The table below displays how the line for this game has moved since opening on Sunday.
Last weekend Arkansas opened their season in impressive fashion by blowing out UTEP by 35 points, while Toledo was one of the few teams to not play in Week 1. The two teams will meet on supposedly neutral turf (War Memorial Stadium in Arkansas) this weekend, and the public has been all over the Razorbacks.
Arkansas opened as 22-point favorites and have received 84% of early spread bets. Despite this unbalanced public betting, Arkansas has dropped from -22 to -21 at Pinnacle. This reverse line movement is a strong indicator that sharp money likes Toledo in this non-conference matchup.
Bettors may also be interested in knowing that Arkansas is ranked 18th in the latest top 25. This means that they fit the same criteria as Utah, and are being overvalued based on an arbitrary ranking system.
San Diego State at California (Saturday at 5PM eastern)
In the biggest line move of the week, Cal opened as 7.5-point favorites at Pinnacle and have already moved to -14. Since 80% of spread bets are taking the Bears in this matchup, it would be easy enough to attribute this 6.5-point move to public money, but that’s not the case. Based on the extremely low number of bets on this game, sportsbooks could easily handle such lopsided public betting. This massive line move can be attributed to sharp money.
Within 14 hours of opening, Cal had moved from -7.5 – to -10, which is a very significant key number for football bettors. That number moved to -13.5 two days later, but oddsmakers were ambivalent about posting yet another key number at -14 and instead opted to adjust the juice to encourage action on San Diego State. However, early on Thursday morning Pinnacle finally made Cal 14-point favorites.
Although there are a number of steam moves and sharp money indicators triggered on California, most of them came when the spread was significantly lower. If bettors took Cal early in the week they should be very happy right now, but don’t chase the Bears now that most of the value has been sucked out. Sometimes laying off is the smartest bet that you can make.
The screenshot below displays the breakdown of public betting at six of our contributing offshore books:
These numbers are subject to change before kickoff, so bettors should be sure to visit our free College Football odds page for the latest lines, injuries, public betting trends and more.
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David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.