After years of anticipation, the first ever College Football Playoff is finally upon us. On New Year’s Day bettors can stagger out of bed, re-hydrate by drinking copious amounts of water, spend time regretting all of their decisions from the previous night and by 5PM eastern time, be prepared for two exciting games.
Top-ranked Alabama (+130) remains the favorite to win it all followed by Oregon (+160), Ohio State (+550) and Florida State (+700). Over the past few weeks we’ve discussed some of the top betting trends during bowl season, broken down potential championship matchups and explained how bettors can utilize reverse line movement to identify sharp money. However, before tomorrow’s action kicks off the team at Sports Insights wanted to go in-depth on the two games that all sports fans will be focusing on.
Florida State vs. Oregon
Although FSU has not lost in over two years, Oregon actually opened as 7.5-point favorites at the market-setting Pinnacle sportsbook. Naturally, bettors have been happy to take an undefeated team getting more than a touchdown, which explains why 64% of spread bets have been placed on the Seminoles.
Although you would expect that this type of lopsided action would move Oregon from -7.5 to -7, the Ducks have actually become a larger favorite and are now 8-point favorites at Pinnacle. This reverse line movement indicates that sharp money likes the Pac-12 champion in the first ever playoff game.
We’ve mentioned in the past that underdogs fare well in games with low totals while favorites are typically undervalued in games with high totals. Considering the over/under for this game is 71 across the sports betting marketplace, it would appear that there may be value on Oregon.
Another interesting trend concerns our betting against the public philosophy. Our research found that teams receiving less than 40% of spread bets have gone 117-101 ATS (+9.05 units) during bowl season, which further indicates Oregon may be the lean in this matchup. It’s also interesting to see that a whopping 84% of moneyline bettors like Florida State to win straight up as a +250 underdog.
Ohio State vs. Alabama
At 8:35 PM eastern time, the second of Thursday’s playoff games will kick off. Despite losing two Heisman caliber quarterbacks in Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, Ohio State was able to hold off Baylor and TCU for the fourth and final playoff spot. Despite “sneaking in,” Ohio State actually has better odds of winning the title than the defending champion Florida State Seminoles.
According to our College Football betting trends, Alabama opened as a 10-point favorite at Pinnacle and are currently receiving 53% of spread bets. It’s interesting to view the line history for this game as early money moved Alabama from -10 to -10.5 before settling down back at -9.
It’s also worth noting that no bet signals have been triggered on this game, meaning that we have no sharp money indicators to rely on. However, David Payne Purdum tweeted that a big bettor tried to place a massive bet on Ohio State.
MGM has yet to take a limit bet from “pros” on either semifinal, but did get a call from a “whale” looking to bet mid-6 figs on Buckeyes.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) December 30, 2014
Although this may seem like a sharp money indicator, this information doesn’t mean anything without knowing the number that this bettor attempted to play. No offshore sportsbook is currently offering Ohio State as a 10 or 10.5-point underdog and this is particularly noteworthy because 10 is a key number for College Football bettors. On Wednesday morning, Purdum tweeted that both underdogs were being hammered at one of the more prominent Las Vegas sportsbooks. This would indicate that their may be some value on Florida State and Ohio State.
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