September 26, 2011
The fourth week of college football action produced another evenly balanced mix of favorites and underdogs getting the money. The favorites went 24-23 on the week with 10 of the underdogs winning outright. While the public were hit and miss on the games, with LSU beating West Virginia 47-21 as their biggest conquest, it was the Sharps who made the strongest impression of the day.
Their top six plays went 5-1 with Tulsa (+32), Missouri (+22), Ohio State (-15), Wyoming (+24 ½ ), Florida (-17 ½) and Nevada (+20 ½). The Tulsa and Florida moves came early in the week, but the other four came in a major power sweep through every sports book in Las Vegas on Thursday. The brilliance of their Thursday attack was how they helped set the market number by seeding money on the other side in a few of those games with early wagering at the Wynn Resort and similar activity off-shore.
The Wynn opened Texas Tech as a 15 ½-point favorite against Nevada last Sunday night. After a few low limit wagers on Tech moved the spread up the ladder, the number had quickly settled at -20. That was the market price most sports books opened with on Monday morning.
On Thursday morning the number that had been driven to as high as -21 at the South Point and -20 ½ at the Las Vegas Hilton and Wynn with Tech money. The public loved Texas Tech and the risk on the game was mounting on that side.
Then the onslaught came as their plan of attack came to fruition at every sports book in the city at almost the same time with Nevada money. They took the plus-21, the 20 ½, the 19, the 18 until they milked the well dry all the way down to 16 with the Wynn almost being right back where they started.
In the Wynn’s case, they had a strong number that was obviously correct with the Sharps, but were driven off of it with low-limit wagers. Even if the Wynn had taken full limits, it’s still a relatively cheap price to pay for the sharp group to pay when they can force the city into a desired number and then have so many different outs to get their action in at.
In the end, Texas Tech escaped with a 35-34 win over Nevada.
The activity on the Texas Tech side may sound un-ethical, but there is no rule against it. It’s not like there is a Federal Trade Commission that governs this type of betting activity. This Sharp group has the muscle and cash flow to make it possible.
Now the ball is in the sports books court for them to try and detect this type of manipulation. Whether that means holding true to their own numbers and not falling in line so much with the market price, who knows, but you can believe that most sports books are already coming up with their counter-offensive on the matter.
Wyoming was a popular Sharp play at +24 ½ all the way to +21 ½ against Nebraska. Even though the majority of the Wyoming wagers didn’t get the money because Nebraska won 38-14, the sports books had a negative decision because of the public loving Nebraska. Bu the time the public put Nebraska in all their parlays on game day, they got the best of the numbers because of the spread being driven so low.
The sports books escaped with a decent Saturday despite the Sharps doing so well. Pittsburgh covering against Notre Dame was the book's biggest win on the day. The late combination of LSU and Oregon covering was very popular with the public and continued a trend that has been seen all four weeks; the sports books can’t seem to win the late games.
One Step Forward, Two Giant Leaps Backward
One week after drastically changing impressions of our beloved UNLV football Rebels following their dominating win over Hawaii as 18-point underdogs, they came back to earth. In fact, losing 41-16 at home to Southern Utah -- from the Great West conference -- Saturday night puts them on an entirely new planet.
If there was ever a let-down game that not many uncovered, it was this one. The Rebels were 10-point favorites on the extra added games that many sports books offer on Friday evenings. I guess it’s back to the drawing board.
Upsets of the Week
In games that were offered in the regular Nevada rotation, there were two double-digit underdogs that won outright. Florida International was a 17-point home favorite and ended up losing 36-31 to UL-Lafayette.
Kansas State was a 12-point underdog at Miami and pulled off the 28-24 win giving Miami, a team many thought could run the table this year, a 1-2 start to their season.
As big as those upsets were, I still found myself more fascinated with Temple drilling Maryland 38-7 as a nine-point road underdog. Temple is now 3-0 against-the-spread after destroying Akron (41-3), hanging with Penn State in a 14-10 loss and then the Maryland game.
Temple continued to do what they do best against Maryland, which is run. They went for 285 yards and held possession for 41 minutes. It’ll be interesting to see this week how the contrasting styles of Temple fare against the pass-attack of Toledo, a team that comes off tough losses from Syracuse, Boise State and Ohio State. Temple is a 7-point favorite in this one.