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 5
Recapping Week 4
This is our first year providing the NCAA Football Marketwatch, and we are following an undesirable downward trend. After a hot start to the season, last week’s 0-3 record dropped us to an even 6-6 for 2008. Tennessee looked like they never had a chance against Florida, and Mississippi couldn’t hang with Vanderbilt in the second half. Auburn was looking good against LSU, but faltered down the stretch and lost by five. We’re hoping for a reversal of trends this week, after all the season is a roller coaster with ups and downs.
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Overall = 6-6 = 50.0%
NCAA WEEK 5
For the second consecutive week the top match up takes place in an SEC battle between top-10 teams, as Alabama travels to play Georgia between the hedges. Both teams have a plethora of playmakers on offense and know how to stop their opponents on defense. Two other top-25 match ups take place this weekend. The first sees No. 2 Oklahoma host No.24 Texas Christian. The second features two teams hoping to win the Big Ten with No.12 Penn State hosting No. 22 Illinois.
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 two of the top-25 match ups, with the TCU-Oklahoma point spread possibly scaring some bettors. Other games that should draw lots of action include Wisconsin at Michigan, Maryland at Clemson, and North Carolina at Miami (FL). 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 5 – Games to Watch
Pittsburgh vs Syracuse (9/27 12P)
Pittsburgh opened the season as a top-25 team before a very disappointing home loss at the hands of Bowling Green. Since then the Panthers have won consecutive home games, but they didn’t look great against either Buffalo or Iowa while giving up 709 yards combinded. Pittsburgh’s best player on offense is Sophomore RB LeSean McCoy. He has 242 yards and five touchdowns on the ground with another 102 yards receiving. Panthers QB Bill Stull has only one touchdown pass on the season to go with three interceptions. This will be Pittsburgh’s Big East opener as well as their first road game of the young season. In 2007, the Panthers finished with only one win away from home.
Syracuse opened the season with three consecutive losses, and they weren’t able to stay close in any of them. Last week they notched their first win against Northeastern. The Orange keep pace with other teams on offense with three strong running backs. Senior Curtis Brinkley leads the team with 358 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Cameron Dantley has been been solid behind center, throwing for five touchdowns against two picks. Syracuse’s weakness is its defense, which has allowed a total of 148 points in four contests.
Neither team has looked very good so far this season, and Pittsburgh may be the better team. The Panthers are giving up more than two touchdowns on the road, and they are receiving 68% of the public’s bets. The line has moved from Pitt -16.5 to -15, and that indicates some Smart Money behind Syracuse. Sure enough, there was a Smart Money play triggered by Cris, which has a positive record on NCAA Football Smart Money plays. We’ll follow the Sharps and take the Orange with the points.
North Carolina vs Miami (FL) (9/27 12P)
Last week North Carolina looked poised to take a huge step towards importance in the ACC before a heartbreaking home loss to Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels had a two-touchdown lead late in the third quarter before giving up 17 unanswered points to the Hokies. Carolina lost starting QB T.J. Yates to a broken ankle during last week’s loss. Backup Mike Paulus struggled against the Hokies, but he did come out of high school as a highly-regarded prospect. The Tar Heels boast one of the best receiving corps in the NCAA, including do-it-all receiver/return specialist Brandon Tate. So far in 2008 Tate has 297 receiving yards, 359 return yards, and 141 rushing yards. North Carolina’s defense has forced eight turnovers through three games.
Miami came off an embarrassing late collapse two weeks ago against Florida with a huge win 41-23 win over Texas A&M. They were led by RB Graig Cooper, who finished the day with 128 yards on 16 carries, including two TDs. Freshman QB Robert Marve looked more comfortable in his second start, completing 16 of 22 pass for 212 yards with a pair of touchdowns. The Hurricanes defense did allow 362 yards to the Aggies, but they forced a pair of turnovers including a fumble returned for a score.
The media sees Miami as a team back on the rise in the ACC, much like they were saying about UNC before last week. The teams come in with very similar numbers through three games. Each sits at 2-1 and has scored 96 points, while North Carolina has allowed 59 points to Miami’s 56. The Tar Heels surprised the Canes last season in a 33-27 win in Chapel Hill, and Butch Davis knows how to win in Miami. The line at Pinnacle opened at Miami -7 before climbing to -8, but has since dropped back to Miami -7.5 even though the Canes are receiving two-thirds of public bets. This movement has triggered multiple Smart Money plays on North Carolina, and we’re going to buy low on Carolina and sell high on Miami.
North Carolina +7.5 (Sports Interaction)
Alabama vs Georgia (9/27 7:45PM)
Alabama has steadily climbed into the top 10 after its impressive opening win against Clemson. The Crimson Tide won its previous two games over Western Kentucky and Arkansas in routs. Alabama has put up 144 points while allowing only 37 to open the season 4-0. The Tide has three running backs averaging more than 6 yards per carry, led by Glen Coffee, who has 404 yards on 47 carries (8.6 ypc). Senior QB John Parker Wilson has performed well, and freshman WR Julio Jones has showed he can contribute immediately. Alabama’s defense has forced 8 turnovers, with 4 coming in last week’s blowout win over Arkansas.
Georgia came is as the pre-season No. 1 team, but have fallen behind USC and Oklahoma in the standings. Other than a close road win over South Carolina, the Dawgs have shown they can absolutely dominate. They traveled to a rowdy Sun Devil Stadium last weekend, and easily handled Arizona State in a 27-10 win. Junior QB Matthew Stafford has looked great while compiling a 152.64 rating, and Heismen candidate Knowshon Moreno already has 9 rushing TDs while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Freshman WR A.J. Green had a breakout performance against ASU with 8 catches for 159 yards and a TD. The Georgia defense hasn’t forced many turnovers on the season, but they do keep opponents from putting up lots of points, allowing only 55 so far.
This should be a great game as both teams are strong on both sides of the ball. Alabama will be looking to prove it belongs this high in the standings, and it will be a tough test between the hedges. The public is taking the Tide and the points in this top-10 battle at a 65% rate, and the line has moved from an opening at Pinnacle of Georgia -7.5 to -6.5. The movement has triggered Steam Moves on Georgia from multiple books with positive results. We like going against the public and Georgia giving up less than a TD on their home turf. Go Dawgs! .
So, here’s a wrap-up of SportsInsights.com analysis for this week’s Games to Watch for NCAA Football Week 4.
Games to Watch (6-3)
North Carolina +7.5 (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