College Football Game of the Week: Ohio State at Virginia Tech
On Monday night at 8:00 PM eastern, top-ranked Ohio State will travel to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. While the Buckeyes enter the game as the defending champions, Virginia Tech had a fairly disappointing 2014 campaign. The Hokies finished the season 7-6 overall and were just 3-5 in ACC games. In fact, VT needed to win their bowl game against Cincinnati just to finish with a winning record.
Pinnacle was one of the first major sportsbooks to post Week 1 College Football lines and they opened Ohio State as a 12.5-point favorite. However, shortly after the line opened it was announced that several Buckeye players would be suspended for the opener:
— ESPN (@espn) July 30, 2015
Along with being named a unanimous All-American, last season defensive end Joey Bosa won the Smith-Brown Trophy which is awarded annually to the nation’s top defensive lineman. With Bosa and three teammates suspended, Ohio State dropped 2.5-points from -12.5 to +10. Bettors can view the latest news and updates by visiting our free NCAAF injury page.
The line remained essentially static until August 24th when Ohio State, who were receiving 79% of spread bets, moved off that key number from -10 to -10.5. Within the next few days, the line continued to move as you can see from the line history screenshot below:
As you can see, sportsbooks adjusted their lines following the suspension but the betting public continued to hammer the Buckeyes. At the time of publication, Ohio State was receiving 81% of spread bets. This incredibly one-sided betting appears to be responsible for the 3.5-point line move between July 30th and September 4th.
The line chart below displays how the line has moved since opening at Pinnacle:
In addition to the line movement on the spread, there has also been an interesting development involving the total. Pinnacle opened the total at 53.5 and currently 78% of bettors are taking the over. Despite this overwhelming public support, the total has actually dropped from 53.5 to 52.5. This reverse line movement is an excellent indicator that sharp money likes the under in this matchup.
It should be noted that there’s still some uncertainty about who will be Ohio State’s starting quarterback on Monday night. Although Braxton Miller has already been converted to wide receiver, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett are still in competition. According to ESPN, “Urban Meyer won’t tell the rest of the world who his starting QB will be for Monday night’s season opener, but Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett will find out Saturday.”
It will also be interesting because a number of offshore sportsbooks have been posting odds on the Ohio State QB battle throughout the offseason:
#OhioState Starting QB (Current | April 21 | Feb 24)
Barrett -125 | -200 | +350
Jones +120 | +150 | +110
Miller +250 | +300 | +125
— Sports Insights (@SportsInsights) June 30, 2015
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. There have also been a number of bet signals triggered on this game, which are available to all Sportsbook Insider Pro subscribers.
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David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.