by Mike Norris at Sports Insights
Welcome to the inaugural edition of the NCAA Football Marketwatch. The team at Sports Insights gives sports fans unprecedented insight into the NCAA Football point-spread market. If you ever wanted to know what was really happening on the sportsbook side, you now have an all-access pass with Sports Marketplace!
Every week we speak directly with the line managers at some of the sports betting industry’s largest sportsbooks about which games the public is chasing and the Sharps are pounding. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for this week in College Football.
Sports Marketplace – NCAA Week 11
Recapping Week 10
This is our first year providing the NCAA Football Marketwatch, and a late 48-yard field goal knocked us from a 2-1 week to a1-2 result. Army was down six points before Air Force kicked a long field goal with under two minutes left to push the lead to nine and beat the 8-point spread. Wisconsin squandered a lead late to lose by two, but they beat the 4.5-point spread to give us our lone win. Florida jumped out to an early lead over Georgia, and the Bulldogs couldn’t recover to make a game out of it. The blowout dropped us to 1-2 for the week.
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Overall = 12-17-1 = 41.4%
NCAA WEEK 11
Five conferences feature a match up between top-25 teams this weekend (the Mountain West also had a top-25 face-off on Thursday night.) Alabama has a tough test in their first game as the No. 1 team in the nation as they travel to play No. 16 LSU in Baton Rouge. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban returns to Tiger Stadium where he built a championship team before bolting to the NFL. LSU fans are hoping to hand Saban’s team their first loss on the season and put a damper on the Tide’s national title hopes. New No. 2 Texas Tech also gets a tough test after upsetting Texas last weekend. The Red Raiders will host No. 9 Oklahoma State as they hope to strengthen their Big 12 and national title credentials. In the Pac 10, No. 7 USC will host No. 21 California, while No. 24 Northwestern hosts No. 11 Ohio State in a Big Ten battle. In the ACC, No. 19 North Carolina plays host to No. 20 Georgia Tech in a Coastal Division battle.
Warning to all new readers of the NCAA Football Sports Marketwatch column: in order to follow our selections, you’ll need ice running through your veins. Be prepared to take up meditation or acupuncture to calm the nerves. The goal of this weekly column is to highlight games that offer true “line value.” Often, if a line looks too go to be true, there is a reason. The underlining theme every week is line value. You’ll consistently need the worst teams on the board to come through. We typically buy on bad news and sell on good.
We’re expecting heavy action on all the top-25 match ups. Other games that should draw lots of action include No. 3 Penn State at Iowa, Kansas at Nebraska, Georgia at Kentucky, and Notre Dame at Boston College. Visit SportsInsights.com to view wagering statistics on NCAA games from multiple online sportsbooks. Here is a trio of line value games we are keying on.
NCAA Sports MarketWatch Week 11 – Games to Watch
Wisconsin vs Indiana (11/8 12P)
Wisconsin looked like they were coming alive last weekend against Michigan State. The Badgers ground game dominated the Spartans, racking up 281 yards. The defense even held MSU to a total of 25 yards on the ground, including a season-low 54 yards from Javon Ringer (152 average prior to game.) It didn’t end that way though, as Michigan State kicked a game-winning field goal with seven seconds remaining. The Badgers do feature a pair of quality tailbacks in P.J. Hill and John Clay, who each rushed for over 100 yards last week. Quarterback Dustin Sherer will make his fourth consecutive start, the last two of which he hasn’t thrown an interception.
Indiana allowed Central Michigan backup quarterback Brian Brunner to have a career day last week, as he threw for 485 yards and four touchdowns. The bright spots were that the Hoosier defense only allowed 37 yards on the ground and the offense looked pretty good while piling up 485 total yards. Those weren’t enough as they still lost 37-34. Indiana features a bend-don’t-break pass defense that is designed to allow the short pass, but to keep opponents out of the end zone.
The Badgers opened as 10-point favorites at Pinnacle, but the line dropped down to Wisconsin -9.5 in the middle of the week. This move happened despite the Badgers receiving 71% of spread bets and a whopping 86% of parlay bets. That’s an indication of Smart Money backing the Hoosiers. The line has since climbed back to 10. We like Indiana getting those points at home, so we’ll follow the Smart Money.
Cincinnati vs West Virginia (11/8 7P)
Cincinnati has been forced to use three quarterbacks this season, and Junior Tony Pike is in his second stint after breaking his non-throwing arm earlier in the season. Pike’s broken arm is now being held together by a plate and six screws, and he is playing with a soft cast on the arm. He had a great effort in last week’s 24-10 win over South Florida, in which he went 20-for-28 for 281 yards and two touchdowns. The Bearcats utilize a spread offense much like West Virginia, but they are more successful in the passing attack. The defense is allowing an average of 334.1 yards per game. West Virginia struggled early in the year as they were ranked in the top-10 to start the season. Two losses in their first three games knocked the Mountaineers out of the rankings. Since then they have reeled off five consecutive wins and rejoined the top 25 at No. 25. Part of the turn around comes from quarterback Pat White becoming healthy and gaining confidence. White has led the Mountaineers to 34 and 35 points in the last two games. WVU’s defense is allowing 308.8 yards per game, but they are holding opposing offenses to only 14.75 points per game.
West Virginia opened as 8-point favorites at Pinnacle. The Mountaineers are receiving 71% of spread bets and 86% of parlay bets from the public, but the line has moved to West Virginia -7 despite this backing. That combination created a pair of Smart Money plays and a pair of Steam Moves on the Bearcats. We’ll like the chances of Cincinnati, and we’ll take them with the points.
Cincinnati +7 (Olympic)
Oklahoma State vs Texas Tech (11/8 8PM)
Oklahoma State has fallen a little under the radar after losing a close game at then-No. 1 Texas. With teams like Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma grabbing the headlines in the Big 12, The Cowboys have quietly racked up an 8-1 record with a strong balance on both sides of the ball. They routed Iowa State 59-17 last week, and racked up 682 yards of total offense in the process. Sophomore wide receiver Dez Bryant is second in FBS with 1,054 yards receiving, and is tied for the nation’s lead with
15 receiving touchdowns. The Cowboys are fifth in the nation in rushing, averaging 273.6 yards per game.
Texas Tech is coming off what is perhaps the school’s biggest win ever. The home upset of then-No. 1 Texas vaulted the Red Raiders up to No. 2 in the BCS, and has them poised for a Big 12 title and a ticket to the national championship game. Tech has always had a great offense, and this year is no different with Heisman hopefuls at quarterback and wide receiver. The combination of QB Graham Harrell and WR Michael Crabtree is a lethal one for opposing defenses. Harrell has thrown only five interceptions on the season against 30 touchdowns, 15 of which were to Crabtree. Texas Tech leads the nation with an average of 430 passing yards per game. What makes this season’s Red Raiders a contender is its improved defense, which leads the Big 12 with only 349.6 yards per game.
Both teams feature high-powered offenses ranked nationally in the top-10 and stout defenses that are among Big 12 leaders. They have each played ranked opponents previously on their schedule. This should be a good prime-time match up in the Big 12. At Pinnacle the line opened at Texas Tech -3.5, but quickly dropped down the -3 before climbing back up to -3.5 on Thursday. The Red Raiders are being backed by 70% of the public’s spread bets and 64% of parlay bets. This heavy percentage and the early line movement triggered a number of Smart Money plays on the Cowboys. We’ll follow the Smart Money and take the points for Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State +3.5
So, here’s a wrap-up of SportsInsights.com analysis for this week’s Games to Watch for NCAA Football Week 11.
Games to Watch (12-17-1)
Cincinnati +7 (Olympic)
Oklahoma State +3.5
It should be another exciting week for NCAA Football. Keep Sports Marketplace Games to Watch picks handy and your browser pointed to SportsInsights.com for the latest real-time updates, using our exclusive Sports Investing tools. Also check out our new feature Campus Reports for NCAA Football information you won’t find anywhere else. We’ll be back next Friday with the new edition of the NCAA Football Sports Marketwatch.
Enjoy the games!
Mike Norris at Sports Insights