It can be difficult to give credit to oddsmakers because of the “us against them” mentality that we have. However, when it comes to Week 1 to Week 2 and avoiding overreaction, those posting the numbers did a very good job. The Opening Line Report gives us a chance each week to see how the wiseguys and sharps set the market.
Initial positions are about grabbing numbers that aren’t likely to be there later in the week or about getting some money out there to open up the markets. Some of these positions will be held and will grow in value. Others will be a vessel to play back on a middle or come over the top at a more favorable number on the other side. Some of them are really true positions, but you have to keep in mind that limits rise throughout the week. Sharp bettors wouldn’t fully tip their hands for $2000 or $5000 when they could hit for $15,000 or $20,000 on game day.
This is honestly the best part of the industry, besides winning money, of course. Watching the market. Watching the moves and the plays. The setups and the head fakes. The true positions and the numbers grabs. The value of half-points and full points. It’s all awesome and enlightening.
Typically I’ll try to get this out Monday morning, but with baseball still going on, it might be tough this month. It does give us a little more time to see the market move, which is nice.
Here is the Opening Line Report for Week 2:
TCU (-22.5) at SMU – SMU had one first down in the first half in Week 1 against North Texas. That’s not ideal going into a matchup against Gary Patterson’s TCU defense. This line opened 19.5 and has gone up, up, and away since. Money keeps flooding the board to fade the Mustangs, as we’ve now seen two waves of investment in this battle of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It may not be done.
Liberty at Army (-10) – FBS newcomer Liberty drilled Old Dominion with a second-half barrage of points in Week 1 to come away with a very convincing win. The market is on Liberty this week after fading them a little bit last week. Army looked quite bad against Duke, but still opened a 12-point favorite at Bookmaker. BetOnline, who was first to hit the market, had 10.5. We were below double digits, with Heritage down to 9. Matchbook, the offshore exchange, which often features some of the sharpest lines due to its nature, was showing 8.5. Then money hit Army again. This is setting up to be a cannibalistic line for the sharps.
Western Michigan at Michigan (-26.5) – We could have competing groups on some of these games this week. We saw Liberty vs. Army move up and then down. This game has done the same. This number opened anywhere from 24.5 to 25.5 and got as high as 28 before falling back down to 26.5. Neither team looked particularly impressive in Week 1. These little brother vs. big brother games are always intriguing handicaps, especially with Michigan off of a marquee game against Notre Dame.
Air Force at Florida Atlantic (-10) – We haven’t crossed any key numbers yet, but the expectation should be for Air Force and Florida Atlantic to push through 10 sooner rather than later. Early bettors grabbed the Owls at -7 at BetOnline and -7.5 at Bookmaker and 5Dimes. FAU got trounced by a top-three Oklahoma team last weekend, which led to a bit of an overreaction on this line. The move on FAU may not be done. The Owls also faced a triple-option last season when they played Navy, so they’ve seen it and that is always a betting angle.
FIU at Old Dominion (-1) – FIU opened a road favorite for this conference tilt in Norfolk. The market made ODU a short favorite. The Monarchs got hammered by Liberty last week, while FIU hung in there and played fairly well against Indiana. This line was still an overreaction to Old Dominion’s bad loss to Liberty and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another wave of action push this number closer to -3.
Mississippi State (-9.5) at Kansas State – We know that Bill Snyder is capable of magic in Manhattan, but this may not be the spot for it. The Wildcats needed a furious fourth-quarter comeback to best South Dakota. Mississippi State wasn’t efficient, but used a lot of big plays to beat an FCS foe. With Nick Fitzgerald back this week and an 11 a.m. CT kickoff in Manhattan, bettors believe the better team will prevail and do so convincingly. BetOnline actually popped a -3.5 on this game at immediate opening. It was -5 within seconds and over a touchdown not much later. Congratulations to the one guy on the planet with a -3.5 ticket.
Nevada at Vanderbilt (-10) – Year in and year out, Middle Tennessee is a trendy upset pick against Vanderbilt. Year in and year out, it doesn’t happen. The Commodores suffocated the MTSU offense and scored a big win, even though the betting market was against the ‘Dores. This week, the betting market is on the ‘Dores, as the Nevada Wolf Pack travels to Nashville for a non-conference matchup. This line opened 7.5 at Bookmaker and got popped up to 10 rather quickly. It’s still there. Anything over 10 is likely to see Nevada buy back. Always take note of the points of resistance for these line movers. When the market is unwilling to push through a key number, that is worth keeping in mind.
UCLA at Oklahoma (-30) – We knew this one would rise. Oddsmakers got caught with a bad number here. Bookmaker came out with 25 and it’s now 30 market-wide. BetOnline opened 25.5, which wasn’t around long. At all. Chip Kelly’s defense got gashed by the Cincinnati running game. Oklahoma will do a lot worse.
Memphis (-4.5) at Navy – Navy is in a really rough spot here. The Middies got rocked on the island against Hawaii and now face another potent offense, but with cross-continent travel on what amounts to a short week. This is not an ideal spot for the first conference game and the betting market agrees, as Memphis went from -3.5 to -4.5 at open.
Buffalo at Temple (-4.5) – It turns out that losing to an FCS team is bad for business. Temple dropped its opener last week to Villanova. Villanova is generally a pretty stout FCS team, but the Owls were more than a two-touchdown favorite. This looks like a little bit of an overreaction, so we’ll see if this one goes back up, but there is a lot of support for Buffalo with the job that Lance Leipold has done.
Baylor (-14) at UTSA – This game was late hitting the board, as Baylor has some starting quarterback questions due to injury. The line opened 9.5 and immediately got crushed up to 14. It didn’t take long and it seems like that is a stopping point now. UTSA got blown away by a questionable Arizona State team and that was more than enough for the market to get involved. Also, Baylor is a pretty popular team in some circles of the sharp community this season.
Virginia at Indiana (-7) – Not a sexy game by any means, but one worth talking about because of some line movement. The Hoosiers opened 6.5 and actually fell as low as 5.5 before money hit the board the other way on Indiana. The Hoosiers are now painted -7 across the market as some influential money seemed to hit the board on Monday afternoon. We’ll probably see this one sit right where it is for a bit now.
Penn State (-8.5) at Pitt – Pitt hosts Penn State at Heinz Field this week, but it’s hard to say that the Panthers will have any home field advantage here with the Penn State faithful likely to travel very well. We actually saw this one tick down to 7.5 before bouncing back up. It hasn’t gone through a key number yet or anything like that, but this is one to watch.
Cal at BYU (-3.5) – This is quite a turn of events. Cal could have been favored at BYU before last week, but the Cougars bested Arizona and Cal had lots of offensive problems against North Carolina. The Golden Bears won by 7, but that was a blowout until the fourth quarter. The market seems to be overreacting here and I wonder if this is a setup for a Cal play later in the week.
Michigan State (-7) at Arizona State – Sparty avoided disaster last Friday night against Utah State. Now, they’ll make the long trip out to Tempe against Herm Edwards and the Sun Devils. This number opened -4, but the market drove it up to -7 in short order. A few shops are still holding onto 6.5, but the expectation is that those will be gone before we see any other noteworthy action on this one.