9/5/2008 PM EST
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 2
This is our first year providing the NCAA Football Marketwatch, and we couldn’t have asked for a better start. Not only did all three of the teams we highlighted cover the spread, they won outright as well. It just goes to show you that preseason hype is just that,
hype, as three preseason top-25 teams fell to underdogs.
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Overall = 3-0 = 100.0%
NCAA WEEK 2
Week 1 was much anticipated, and it didn’t disappoint. We saw some big upsets, some big injuries, and a lot of good games. Some conferences looked very strong (SEC), and some looked… well let’s just say not very good (ACC). Week 2 has some high-profile teams making their season debuts (Notre Dame and Miami), and features some interesting matchups (West Virginia at East Carolina). We’re glad to have the college teams back battling on the way to the BCS Championship Game in Miami.
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 anticipate there will still be quite a few lopsided bet games this week due to more cupcakes on the schedules of some top teams. Visit SportsInsights.com to view wagering statistics on NCAA games from multiple online sportsbooks. Here are a trio of line value games we are keying on.
NCAA Sports MarketWatch Week 2 – Games to Watch
BYU vs Washington (9/6 -3:30P)
BYU has come into this season shooting to become last season’s Hawaii, the team from a non-BCS conference to receive a BCS bowl bid. The Cougars have a history of high-powered offenses, and it looks no different this season. The public LOVES offense, and they tend to follow that when they bet. High-scoring offenses also tend to turn the ball over, as the Cougars did last week by coughing up five fumbles. BYU had a good defense last season, but lost eight starters from that unit. There’s still a question how the new starters will perform after allowing some big plays last week against Northern Iowa.
Washington is coming off a road loss to No. 18 Oregon, and the Huskies’ Tyrone Willingham is on the hot seat in his fourth season. Willingham does have a special talent in QB Jake Locker, who passed for 2,062 yards and ran for another 986 in 2007. The Huskies defense has experience and a new coordinator in Ed Donatell, who spent 13 seasons as a coordinator in the NFL.
The Cougars are receiving 60% of wagers at Sports Insights’ contributing sportsbooks, but the line has moved in the opposite direction you would expect. BYU opened at Pinnacle as 10-point favorites, but are currently at -8.5. A 1.5 point move against that percentage shows me that the Sharps are backing Washington. I’m going to follow the Smart Money, especially since there are still some places offering Washington +9.5 (Sports Interaction).
Washington +9.5 (Sports Interaction)
Texas A&M vs New Mexico (9/6 – 5:00P)
Texas A&M opened the Mike Sherman era with a home loss to Arkansas State, not a good way to endear yourself to the Aggies’ 12th Man. Sherman is switching to a pro-style offense at A&M, but it doesn’t look like he has the right fit of players for that system. Senior QB Stephen McGee is more of a dual-threat player, as he was the Big 12’s top rushing quarterback last season with 899 yards. Sherman also moved bruising RB Jorvorskie Lane to fullback, and made Mike Goodson the featured back. The Aggies
didn’t have a strong defense last season, and lost their top-2 defensive players heading into 2008.
New Mexico won its first bowl game since 1961 last season with a 23-0 defeat of Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl. The Lobos return key talent on offense including two-time first-team all-conference running back Rodney Ferguson. He is joined in the backfield by fellow RB Paul Baker (over 200 yards total offense in New Mexico Bowl). New Mexico also returns a strong secondary from last season, which could give fits to A&M’s McGee.
The Aggies are receiving 76% of the betting public’s support playing on the road, but they have moved from -3 favorites at Pinnacle to -2.5. Yet again, I’m following the Sharps and taking the home dog. Much like last week’s Michigan game, beware of a coach implementing a new system without the right players in place to run it.
New Mexico +2.5
Mississippi vs Wake Forest (9/6 – 7P)
Wake Forest went on the road and crushed Big 12 cellar dweller Baylor 41-13 in week 1. Junior Riley Skinner begins his third season as the Demon Deacons starting QB. Skinner was the most accurate passer in the NCAA last season with a 72-percent completion rate, but Wake lost four starters along its offensive line. The Deacs also return the bulk of a talented defense.
In Houston Nutt’s debut Mississippi started out the year with a big win against Memphis. It seems Nutt has found a decent option in Junior WR Dexter McCluster to play the Darren McFadden position of his “Wildcat” offense that he brought over from Arkansas. Texas transfer QB Jevan Snead looked good in his first action for Ole Miss, and the Rebels’ unpredictable offense can confuse even the most experienced defenses. With DT Peria Jerry and DE Greg Hardy, the Rebels also feature the SEC’s most talented defensive line duo, and a potential stud LB in Allen Walker.
The Deacs are receiving two-thirds of public wagers after receiving extra media attention for being the only ACC team to actually look good in week 1. Even with that public support, the line has moved a half-point in their favor. Could that be a sign of smart money I see? Absolutely. When two teams this talented square off, anything can happen, and we’re following the Sharps in thinking this is a close one. I’ll take Ole Miss and the points.
So, here’s a wrap-up of SportsInsights.com analysis for this week’s Games to Watch for NCAA Football Week 1.
Games to Watch (3-0)
New Mexico +2.5
One game just missing the cut this week was Northwestern at Duke. It’s looking to be a Square Play, and if Duke ends up getting +7, I’m jumping in.
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