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 3
Recapping Week 2
This is our first year providing the NCAA Football Marketwatch, and we are off to a great start. We went 3-0 in our first week, with Bowling Green (+13), Utah (+3.5), and UCLA (+7.5) all winning their games out right. In week 2, we went 2-1 behind Washington (+9.5) and Mississippi (+7.5) beating their respective spreads and coming close to outright wins (even Duke mentioned at the end of the column beat the spread without moving to +7.) Only New Mexico (+2.5) against Texas A&M kept us from another 3-0 week. All-in-all, it’s been a good way to start the NCAA Football season.
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Overall = 5-1 = 83.3%
NCAA WEEK 3
Week 2 didn’t look like it had a lot of interesting match ups when schedules came out, but there were quite a few great games, including two of our Games To Watch. There is no such shortage of interesting match ups heading into this weekend. The biggest game of the week sees perennial powerhouses Ohio State and Southern California face off in the Los Angeles
Coliseum. Other intriguing match ups are Kansas at South Florida, Georgia at South Carolina, Wisconsin at Fresno State, and UCLA at Brigham Young. We’re glad to have the college teams back battling on the way to the BCS Championship Game
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 the big match ups this week, especially the Buckeyes-Trojans showdown. 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 3 – Games to Watch
Kansas vs South Florida (9/12 8PM)
Kansas is coming off a dream 2007 season in which they went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl. They’re off to a good start in 2008 with blowout wins over a pair of cupcakes. The Jayhawks have averaged 34.5 points per game in those two wins, down from the 42.8 they averaged last season. Kansas lost some key players along their offensive and defensive line, and this match up between two top 25 teams will be the first real test for the new starters. Kansas has a lot to prove if they want a return trip to the BCS.
South Florida was another surprise success in 2007. Head Coach Jim Leavitt built the Bulls into a top-25 program in a matter of 11 years, and looks to have a team capable of winning the Big East in 2008. South Florida returns 20 starters from last season including dual-threat and Mohawk-wearing QB Matt Grothe. The Bulls’ spread offense can give defenses fits and put up big numbers in the process. South Florida has started the season 2-0, including a big overtime win on the road last weekend against Central Florida.
Almost 705 of bettors are taking Kansas and the points, but the line at Pinnacle hasn’t moved from opening of South Florida -3.5 points. Its unusual to see the public backing an underdog like this, but the appeal of a top-25 team receiving points is drawing them in. We’ll take South Florida at home giving up the points.
South Florida –3.5
Rice vs Vanderbilt (9/13 12:30PM)
Rice puts up a ton of points, as they return the majority of players on that side of the ball from last season. The Owls return players that produced 371 of the 377 points the team scored last season. Leading the charge is wide receiver Jarett Dillard, who recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He has a chance to break the NCAA career TD record for wide receivers; he only needs seven more to reach the mark. Rice also has the guy throwing Dillard the ball back in QB Chase Clement, who set 18 school records last season.
Vanderbilt is coming off a huge upset win on national television over South Carolina. Vandy is inexperienced as the only return 11 starters from a team that went 5-7 in 2007. The Commodores had to rebuild their entire offensive line, but the running game has looked effective so far this season. Don’t look for much of an air attack from Vanderbilt. Starting QB Chris Nickson has thrown for only 181 yards in the Commodores two wins, and their leading receiver has only 4 catches.
Both teams are looking to surprise people and start the season 3-0. The public exposure of a win over a then-top-25 team has the public backing Vandy, as they are receiving almost 80% of the public wagers. The line has barely moved at most books tracked by Sports Insights,if it’s moved at all. Not surprisingly, there have been some Smart Money plays triggered for Rice. We’ll take the high-flying offense of Rice with the points and Smart Money.
Rice +8.5 (Sports Interaction)
UCLA vs BYU
UCLA was triumphant over a top-25 Tennessee team in Head Coach Rick Neuheisel’s debut. QB Kevin Craft looked horrendous in the first half of that game, but came out and had a strong second half to lead the Bruins to an overtime victory. Which Craft will show up in Provo? That is the key question to this match up. If he looks shaky early, watch for the Cougars to pull away. The Bruins have also lost 10 of their last 13 on the road BYU escaped with a controversial win at Washington last week, but they know how to put up points. Junior QB Max Hall was impressive in the close call against the Huskies, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Hall and tight end Dennis Pitta have been a strong connection for the Cougars early in the season. Pitta has caught 21 passes for 361 yards in BYU’s two wins. The Cougars have won 14-straight games in LaVell Edwards Stadium.
These are two teams previously featured in NCAA Football Marketwatch, albeit on opposite sides of the pick. This is one of those cases of selling on good news and buying on bad. UCLA is coming off the big upset win over Tennessee, and BYU is coming off the almost upset by Washington. Those results have the public placing almost 70% of bets on the Bruins, and the line has moved in favor of the home team. We’ll take the top 25 team laying the points at home.
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 (5-1)
South Florida –3.5
Rice +8.5 (Sports Interaction)
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