There’s a chill in the air and a cold breeze coming from the north as we take a look at the Week 11 college football Opening Line Report. We are into November and the clocks have already taken a fall back, so hopefully you enjoyed an extra hour of sleep or an extra power hour at the bar before Ubering home this past weekend.
One of the luxuries for bettors is that they don’t have to bet every game. That isn’t a luxury afforded to oddsmakers, who still have to put up a line on every game. That is relevant at this time of the year because handicaps, which are always complex, have gotten even more complex because of some of the situational elements in play. For most teams, the regular season ends Thanksgiving weekend, so they have maybe three shots to get to six wins and make it to a bowl game or have to win out to win a conference or a division.
We often think of motivation as being something to factor into the equation during bowl season, but it is still important once we hit November. Some teams don’t want to go to a bowl game. They want the season to be over because they’re tired of a coach or tired of playing or have cluster injuries. These are all things we have to consider in these games this month.
As far as Week 11 goes, those considerations aren’t applicable to as many games as they will be down the line, but they are still part of the process in some matchups. Power ratings are becoming a smaller percentage of the process, but you don’t want to discount or discredit them
Oh, yeah, and just for more S&G, we’re adding college basketball to the betting board this week. Fortunately, we have a good idea of what we’re working with in college football and the NFL, but it is just one more sports market to take up your time.
Take a deep breath. You’ll be fine. We’re here to help, including this Week 11 college football Opening Line Report:
Kent State at Buffalo (-22.5) – If you thought you were going to have time to get settled in for Week 11, you were incorrect. Tuesday night MACtion is a thing again this week. Kent State scored a rare conference win over Bowling Green last week and now takes on the best team in the conference. It doesn’t appear like it will go well for the Flashes, who opened -21.5 and are now -22.5.
Toledo at Northern Illinois (-3) – It’s been nice to see Toledo return to some semblance of its old form, but we’ve got an NIU team that can’t score or move the football on offense taking money against the Rockets. This is a move that should resonate with you. Toledo has scored 96 points over the last two games while drawing a larger piece of the spotlight with MAC games on ESPN. And, yet, the market is against them. This will set up as a sharp vs. public split and it’s clear which side the sharps are on.
Wake Forest at NC State (-17) – We’ve seen a little bit of an adjustment to the news that Sam Hartman is out for the season. The true freshman quarterback went through some growing pains this season, but got a chance because Kendall Hinton was suspended and actually looked good at times for Wake Forest. Now he’s out, so sophomore Jamie Newman will probably get the call. He’s 9-for-19 passing with 0 TD and 2 INT in his college career. Hinton hasn’t thrown a pass since going 0-for-5 against Clemson. This line was 15, is now 17, and could very well go up as bettors look at Newman’s stats.
Fresno State (-2.5) at Boise State – We don’t have any noteworthy line movement on this game as of yet, although the 2.5 that we see just about market-wide is only 2 with extra juice at Pinnacle and Matchbook. If you want to anticipate line movements as books that are available to you, keep an eye on Pinny and Matchbook on your odds screen. So far, books seem to be sitting in a good spot with this line. The public is the wild card here. Will Boise State get love on the blue turf, where they haven’t been good against the spread for a while now? Or will Fresno State get love for the extremely impressive body of work?
Temple at Houston (-4) – Houston was in a bad spot last week against SMU after knocking South Florida off of its perch as one of the few remaining undefeated teams in college football. The Cougars weren’t supposed to lose that game as a two-touchdown favorite, but they did. Now Houston hosts Temple and early returns are on the Owls. We’ve only moved from -5 to -4, which isn’t overly significant, but Temple has been something of a sharp side the last few weeks, so we’re more likely to go closer to -3 than -6.
Kentucky (-3.5) at Tennessee – This is a fascinating game. Kentucky got exposed last week by Georgia and lost out on a chance to get blown out by Alabama in the SEC Title Game. Tennessee managed to get outgained by Charlotte at home. Is either one of these teams worth betting? A lot of sportsbooks are still on 3.5, but some are on -4. We’ll see the public hit Kentucky in all likelihood as a ranked team against what Tennessee has been the last few years, but the Wildcats have to get over disappointment for a rivalry game in a hurry.
Troy (-1) at Georgia Southern – This is a big time battle in the Sun Belt as Troy heads to Statesboro to take on the Georgia Southern Eagles. The Trojans opened a slight one-point dog, but appear to be the more popular side in early betting. Georgia Southern had a real clunker last week against UL-Monroe and may have been fortunate to sneak up on App State with the Mountaineers forced to defend the option on a short week. This one is for the Sun Belt East Division title and a spot in the conference championship game in all likelihood.
Miami FL at Georgia Tech (-4.5) – After another lackluster showing from Miami against a team with a pulse, the Hurricanes are a noticeably big dog against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech is a team that needs to be adjusted in your power ratings with the play of Tobias Oliver. TaQuon Marshall hasn’t really been healthy all season, but the young guy has taken the reins at QB and has been brilliant for Paul Johnson and the Tech offense. This line hasn’t moved a whole lot at any book, but I do think it reflects the new-look Tech offense with more explosiveness.
Oregon at Utah (-3.5) – It is a fairly quiet morning for line moves, as the overnights were overshadowed by a great round of late games in the NFL. This is one that is moving, though. The Utes opened -3 against the Ducks and the majority of the market is sitting on -3.5. Those books that aren’t are dealing -120 on the -3. Utah should be a popular side this week, as some people will jump off the train thanks to the loss to Arizona State, but that was not a good spot for Kyle Whittingham’s team. Oregon didn’t play as well as the 42-21 win over UCLA would suggest. I’d expect this line to keep climbing and maybe even close in the 4.5 range.
Washington State (-5) at Colorado – Sharper books are still holding the 4.5 for this one, but we’re likely to see movement north on this game. Colorado opened 5-0 against a bunch of tomato cans, but life for the Buffaloes has gotten much tougher since then. Washington State is clearly the Pac-12’s best team this season and the move up from 4 to 5 is probably just a sign of things to come for this week.
Bowling Green at Central Michigan (-8) – This is a rather intriguing handicap for what appears to be a throwaway game on the surface. Central Michigan’s offense is awful. Bowling Green’s defense is horrible. SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE. The idea that Central Michigan needs to win a game by more than a touchdown has been hard for bettors to align with, as this line has come down from 10 to as low as 7.5. Prices are all over the map for this one. This won’t get any public interest at all, so any and all movement here will be sharp in nature.
Auburn at Georgia (-14.5) – This game really intrigues me this week. It would seem that Georgia has nothing to play for, but maybe the Bulldogs do. They’ve already locked up the SEC East. Is it possible that Georgia becomes our first two-loss College Football Playoff team with a close loss against Alabama in Atlanta? For that to be the case, Kirby Smart’s team probably needs style points here and against Georgia Tech. Maybe there is some incentive. Or maybe Auburn is just that bad that we’ve gone up from 13.5 to 14.5.
Wisconsin at Penn State (-8) – The Disappointment Bowl sponsored by Juicy Fruit gum looks tantalizing on the surface, but much like a stick of Juicy Fruit, the flavor of this game is going to go away quickly. These are two of the country’s most underwhelming teams. How Penn State can be favored by more than a touchdown sort of boggles my mind, but here we are.
Mississippi State at Alabama (-26) – So, Alabama is better than we thought. A systematic demolition of LSU has Alabama, who was already the highest power rated team in college football history, is a growing favorite against a Mississippi State team that has actually looked really good the last two weeks. Some people may find this type of thing boring, but I find it fascinating to watch Alabama dismantle teams with minimal effort.
South Carolina at Florida (-6.5) – Something to keep in mind for next season is that some Sunday night/Monday morning line moves can be based on misleading box scores. South Carolina gave up a plethora of yards to Ole Miss, but won the game. Florida lost everything, including the box score, against Missouri. This line opened 5.5, so oddsmakers were willing to let the betting populace move it out of the dead zone. They opted to look at the Florida side early in the week. We’ll see if that position holds, but there are a few -7s out there.
Texas at Texas Tech (-1) – We’re on both sides of zero here for this one, as the Longhorns battle the Red Raiders. Alan Bowman went back to the hospital after last week’s game for more tests with his collapsed lung, so it is a little bit interesting to see Texas Tech getting some attention. It’s also a little interesting to see this game up on the board with the QB uncertainty for Tech. Texas doesn’t play well as a favorite, but this one appears to be a coin flip.
LSU (-13) at Arkansas – Apparently the markets are expecting an Alabama hangover for LSU this week. LSU opened a 14-point favorite against Arkansas, but this number is going down already and some shops have gotten down to 12.5. This is a pretty cut and dry handicapping concept.
Ohio State (-3.5) at Michigan State – This line looks like an overreaction, but making a case for Ohio State is extremely difficult. Sparty almost always gives the Buckeyes problems, last year’s 48-3 anomaly aside. I think we’re going to see sharp money on Ohio State here playing the power ratings numbers and we should see public money not ready to give up on OSU yet. This line will probably go up, so if you like Ohio State, grab it now.