Welcome to the 2012-13 edition of NCAA Football Marketwatch, where the team at Sports Insights gives sports fans unprecedented insight into the NCAA Football point-spread market.
Every week we analyze the sports betting marketplace to pinpoint which games the public is chasing and which the sharps are pounding.
Overall Record: 0-1
The goal of this weekly column is to highlight games that offer true line value. Often, if a line looks too good to be true, there is a reason. You’ll occasionally need the worst teams on the board to come through. We typically buy on bad news and sell on good.
Arkansas vs. Alabama (9/15 – 3:30 p.m. ET)
This week’s marketwatch will examine an SEC battle between two teams who were both in the preseason Top 10. However, while one team remains a legitimate title contender, the other has dropped out of the rankings altogether.
Alabama started the season as the #2 team in the country but, after an impressive 41-14 dismantling of Michigan, the Crimson Tide were able to leapfrog USC for the #1 spot. As usual, coach Saban’s team is built around its athletic and ferocious defense; however questions remained about whether the team could easily replace running back Trent Richardson. Those questions have been answered emphatically.
Although last year’s backup Eddie Lacy was expected to receive a bulk of the carries, freshman T.J. Yeldon has emerged as the player to watch. The 6’2″ back rushed for 111 yards on just 11 carries in the season opener against Michigan, and is averaging 8.0 yards per carry after two games. Adding to the offensive firepower is the improvement of QB A.J. McCarron, who has already thrown for six touchdowns with no interceptions.
For Arkansas, this season has been more tumultuous than former coach Bobby Petrino’s motorcycling career. Following an opening game victory over Jacksonville State, the Razorbacks had a surefire win scheduled — a home game against Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt conference. Unfortunately QB Tyler Wilson — a legitimate Heisman candidate — left early with a head injury, and backup Brandon Allen managed to complete just 6 of his 20 attempts. Behind this inept performance, the 8th ranked Razorbacks went on to lose in overtime 34-31 and fell out of the Top 25 entirely.
With Wilson expected to miss Saturday’s game against top-ranked Alabama, fans have fled from the Arkansas bandwagon in droves. Alabama opened as a 15.5-point road favorite at CRIS, and the public won’t stop pounding them. At the time of publication, ‘Bama was receiving 77% of spread bets and 77% of parlays. This heavily lopsided betting has pushed the line 4.5 points to -20.
The table below shows a breakdown of the spread betting percentages from our six contributing sportsbooks.
We like the value that public bettors have created on this game and, as always, we recommend buying on bad news and selling on good. This game certainly fits those criteria after Arkansas’ embarrassing loss last week and Alabama’s status as the number one team in the country.
The line history chart below shows the line climbing as high as 21.5 before a Smart Money Play pushed the line back to 21.
Since then, the reverse line movement has continued with Arkansas available at +20 at a majority of sportsbooks.
We got off to a rocky start in the last edition of marketwatch, but we’ll look to even the score with a win this week.
Game to Watch (0-1)
It should be another exciting week of NCAA Football action. Keep Marketwatch handy and your browser pointed to SportsInsights.com for the latest real-time updates.
Enjoy the games!
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