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therock
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College football odds: Week 10 opening line report

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On 10/31/2011 12:36 AM in NCAA Football
Coach Les Miles has played it safe. Despite his potential to pop off in front of the microphone, not even Miles is confident enough to speak out of turn as his No. 1 LSU Tigers prepare to meet No. 2 Alabama in this season’s Game of the Year on Saturday.

“We will be challenged,” Miles said. “And we look forward to meeting that challenge."

And so after a bye week, in which we had to endure some ho-hum matchups while the Tigers and Crimson Tide rested, it is indeed LSU-Alabama Week. And the top spot in the BCS hangs in the balance as college football turns its eyes toward Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Alabama coach Nick Saban has been equally politically correct. Now, he’s less likely to make mistakes in press conference, so it’s been status quo with the Crimson Tide.

“It's everybody's choice to be responsible,” he said, “and be ready to play.”

Well, here’s thinking that both teams indeed will be ready. Both teams are 8-0 overall, and 5-0 in the SEC. Both teams have their sights set on Atlanta, for the league title game, and New Orleans, for the BCS title game.

But only one, for sure, will make the former. And it’s likely that only one will make the latter. Which is why this premier, primetime matchup figures to gain perhaps the most action of any game all year in Nevada.

“We expect it to be pretty big at the windows, yes,” Pete Korner of Esportclub, LLC, in Las Vegas said. “This is a national championship style game. The winner will have a great shot, and there’s so much interest. With it being at night, too, you figure to get more action.”

Terry Cox, the director of the race and sportsbook at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, concurs.

“Most likely, it will be the most heavily bet game of the year, to date,” Cox told Covers.com. “And it will be a big weekend overall, especially with the Breeders Cup, too.”

With so much interest in this game, Korner has kept a close eye on this game for weeks. He and his line consultant group, Sports Club, originally recommended a line of Alabama -5 to the sportsbooks two weeks ago. Some used that line, and it was immediately pounded with LSU money last week. The line dipped to Alabama -4, as a result, but it eventually settled back at -5.

“Should be a great game, and we figure to still see LSU money in the early going,” Korner said. “But we like the line. It’s at now where we had it originally, so we’ll sit back and see what they do with it.”

And with that, let’s take a look at some of next week’s other marquee games:

Florida State (-16) at Boston College

Now that the national spotlight is off the Seminoles, Florida State has actually recovered into a moderately successful season ... depending on your standards. But Florida State has always been known to lay an egg on Thursday night, dating back to the 1990s, so the Eagles may have a shot here in the cold of Boston. But not much of one.

“Florida State is playing really well, and I see this going up before it comes down,” Korner said. “We have no respect for Boston College at this point.”

USC (-21) at Colorado

Let’s throw this game in the mix because it’s a Friday Night Special, it will be bet heavily, and it will be interesting to see how the Trojans respond after their overtime thriller vs. Stanford.

“Colorado is still not showing anything this year,” said Korner, who recommended Trojans -23 to his clients. “USC can score, they still showed well in the loss to Stanford, and this line may even go up.”

The Wynn opened at Colorado +21 but the game was bet up over the 3-TD spread pretty quickly.

Texas A&M (+14) at Oklahoma

The Sooners got back on track vs. Kansas State, and while they still need a lot of help to get back into the title game mix, they should still have enough motivation to get by an inconsistent Aggies team with ease.

“We just didn’t want to get caught short here,” Korner said. “Maybe we overvalued Oklahoma here a little. I mean Texas A&M is good, not great, but they’re capable of covering, certainly. But Oklahoma is in the must-win category now, and the line’s only going to go up from here.”

Korner’s line consultant group, Sports Club, recommended Sooners -16 but the Wynn went with just a 14-point spread on this one.

Kansas State (+21.5) at Oklahoma State

Oh boy, the Wildcats were exposed vs. Oklahoma, and more of the same should be in store versus the Cowboys, who figure to be the No. 2 team in the BCS next week, ahead of the LSU-Alabama loser.

“Another big number, and another big game that we couldn’t be caught short on,” Korner said. “This will be a high-scoring game, and Kansas State can score. But I see no problems here for Oklahoma State. None.”

Northwestern (+19) at Nebraska

Not much of a game here, but there should be plenty of points and it will be interesting to see how Nebraska responds now that they are in prime position for a Big Ten title in their first year in the league.

“The players are betting Nebraska every week. There’s no doubt about it,” said Korner, who sent out Cornhuskers -21. “This is another big favorite, so let’s see what they do with this line. Nebraska is on the outside looking in for the national picture. But they have a chance at the conference title, so why be cheap here with them?”

This one was bet down to 17.5 Sunday night at the Wynn.

Stanford (-21) at Oregon State

On a national stage, hey, the Cardinal won a tough game at USC. Was it pretty? No. Was the defense weak? Yes. But remember, this is Stanford and Andrew Luck. Which means the money is going to come in on them, and hard. So, the pros have to be prepared.

“Stanford, on the road with Luck, shouldn’t have any problems,” Korner said. “Strange game for them vs. USC, but Stanford will be back to normal here.”

Notre Dame (-13.5) at Wake Forest

Always interesting to see where the pros stand on Notre Dame. Not much glamour in this matchup, but the Irish need wins at this point, and need to continue to build momentum. And a big win over an ACC team would certainly help.

“I really wanted to go high here, and maybe I overvalued them, but it’s Notre Dame, and they will draw money,” Korner said. “They’re coming off a win, not a great win vs. Navy, but a win nonetheless. I expect another big performance, and the line, I feel, will be a bit kicked up from here by gametime.”

Korner went higher (+14) than the Wynn’s opening number, but only by a half point.

South Carolina (+4.5) at Arkansas

The Gamecocks have played in the shadow of the Tigers and Crimson Tide all year, and rightfully so. They are boring on offense, and often times inconsistent on defense. But Steve Spurrier’s crew is finding ways to get it done, and this should be a nice little SEC sidebar to the big game.

“This is a good game in the SEC and this is a fair number,” Korner said, who sent out Razorbacks -6. “As far as line movements the rest of this week, I expect it to be steady.”

Oregon (-16.5) at Washington

Surely, the Ducks were watching USC score points all over the place versus Stanford, and thought they could do even better. They’re probably right, but we will have to wait for Nov. 12 for that matchup. For now, it’s a road date at the Huskies, and plenty of chalk.

“Again, another game with a big favorite on the road. But Oregon can score, and they have to win,” Korner said. “This is one of those times, when you can probably take a flyer on a big dog here at home, but I’d rather be wrong with Oregon and get the chance to pull for them when it gets late. In a situation like this, Oregon is going to cover the number more times than not.”
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