After this week, we’ll be into the month of November, which is crazy to think about. Obviously we all know how days work and how the calendar flips over, but it seems like college football season just started. We’re going to get our first round of College Football Playoff rankings soon and we’ll be talking about bowl eligibility.
We’ve got Tuesday football this week, as well as five games on Thursday, and four on Friday, so those that like the weeknight action are going to have a lot of things to consider.
You’ll notice that the line moves are not nearly as significant last week as they have been in past weeks. With each passing week, the betting market gets more and more efficient. The biggest early line move this week is just 3.5 points and many numbers have barely moved at all or haven’t crossed any number of significance. Injury reports and syndicates will drive some line moves later today and into tomorrow and Wednesday, but things are fairly quiet as of now.
Here is the Opening Line Report for Week 9:
Troy (-11.5) at South Alabama – The Trojans had a really ugly loss to Liberty the last time we saw them, but that game meant literally nothing for Troy and was the first game without quarterback Kaleb Barker. Perhaps the oddsmakers overreacted a little bit with their power ratings adjustments because this line opened -10 and got bumped up to -11.5. Troy is in a three-way tie atop the Sun Belt East Division and one of Georgia Southern and Appalachian State will pick up a loss this week. Troy should be more focused and the market agrees.
Toledo at Western Michigan (-6) – Here’s one of the bigger movers of the week, but only in volume. Crossing from -4 to -6 isn’t anything of significance, but we have reached a stopping point in the marketplace for Western Michigan hosting Toledo. The Rockets are rapidly crashing back to earth and the Broncos, who have been steamed a lot lately, are really rounding into form for second-year head coach Tim Lester. This is also a short-week game for Toledo after losing to Buffalo at home. Western Michigan, meanwhile, celebrated winning the Michigan MAC Trophy last week by sweeping its in-state directional rivals.
Appalachian State (-8) at Georgia Southern – An all-important tiebreaker is on the line in Statesboro this week when Georgia Southern hosts Appalachian State. It’s fair to wonder if last week’s performance from the Mountaineers was more about the spot or more about the loss of Jalin Moore putting more pressure on Zac Thomas. It seems like the market has downgraded App State a little bit. The Eagles were a very popular team in the win total market and even got some conference futures love before the season. We haven’t crossed anything key here, but I’m betting this sets up as a public vs. sharp game with the memories of App State’s near-miss at Penn State and the decimation of Arkansas State driving the public bias.
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (-3.5) – We’re down a tad from 4.5 to as low as 3 for this game, but the market-wide consensus is 3.5. Bookmaker actually sits at 3 early in the week with -115 on the favorite. Virginia Tech is hosting Georgia Tech off of a bye, which is about the best situation for facing the triple option. And, yet, money is hitting the board on the Yellow Jackets. Perhaps this is a setup, but this is a really notable line move given the spot and situation.
Miami (FL) (-3.5) at Boston College – Remember when Boston College was such a darling? That isn’t the case this week and that’s kind of surprising because Miami has all sorts of problems. The Hurricanes are up from 1.5 to 3.5, so we blew through a key number of 3. This is one of the few games that has crossed a key number this week in the market so far. Both teams are on extra rest. Miami is off of its first conference loss and BC has struggled when stepping up in class.
Wyoming at Colorado State (-3) – This potential sleeper in the Mountain West Conference has seen some intriguing line movement. We’re only up from -2 to -3, but Colorado State has been generating a little bit more attention in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Wyoming has been falling down power ratings with no semblance of an offense. This is actually a really big game for both teams. The Cowboys are running out of chances to get wins and only have two so far. The Rams need three more in their last four games with a tough slate left. They go to Reno, host Utah State, and visit Air Force to take on the option on a short week.
NC State at Syracuse (PK) – Numbers are scattered all over the place for NC State’s visit to the Carrier Dome. After getting blasted by Clemson last week, the Wolfpack draws a tough game in upstate New York. Syracuse has fallen off the pace a bit recently as well. The Orange opened -2, but we’ve seen NC State as the preferred side so far, with numbers ranging from Wolfpack -1 to Orange -1.5 out there right now. NC State should close a market-wide favorite, but we’ll see.
Wisconsin (-6) at Northwestern – Losing to Rutgers would have been embarrassing for Northwestern. It’s fair to say that the Wildcats were looking ahead to this week’s game against the Badgers, but for a team that already lost to Akron this season, it’s also fair to wonder what Northwestern. We haven’t seen a lot of movement here, but the .5 on any 6 has been taken from this game so far. This will be an intriguing line to watch. My best guess is that Wisconsin eventually takes money and it closes 7, but Pat Fitzgerald is really good in this type of underdog role.
TCU (-16) at Kansas – Games like this are always fun to watch in the betting market. TCU has four losses, but has played one of the hardest schedules in the country. Kansas is not a good team. TCU should have enough remaining wins to get to a bowl game, but are they equipped to crush a bad team? They haven’t faced one since Week 2 against SMU. Is this a game to let out some frustration? Or is TCU just that flawed? The market seems to think they’re going to lay the wood here.
San Diego State (-3) at Nevada – Injuries might finally be taking a toll on Rocky Long’s team. The passing game is non-existent and the running game got bottled up by San Jose State last week. Now the Aztecs are on the road against a Nevada team that is better than most people seem to realize this season. The Wolf Pack have taken a few initial bets, but the books seem confident that 3 is the right number here. Some have gone down to 2.5, but others are holding on 3 and moving the juice around. Ultimately, I think everybody has to move off of 3 here.
Washington State at Stanford (-3.5) – Stanford has faced a brutal schedule this season and has been put in some really tough spots. They were something of a misleading winner last week at Arizona State, which usually causes money to come in on the other side, but with Wazzu off of a huge, emotional win, Stanford is getting the early action. This line is up from 3 to 3.5. This does appear to be the right number for this game, as 3.5 should balance public and sharp action. It would be a shocker to see 4 or a return to 3, although any new updates on Bryce Love could spark some Cougar action.
Georgia (-7) vs. Florida – Cocktails are on the menu in Jacksonville this week. This game has suddenly taken on massive importance. Georgia’s loss to LSU means that the winner here should control its own destiny for a chance to play in Atlanta in the SEC Title Game. Kentucky is also 4-1 and avoids any of the titans from the West, so a win over Georgia next week would likely give the Wildcats the spot, but they’ll be a clear home dog in that one. This is arguably the most important game in the country this week. The only movement we’ve seen has been to push Georgia from 6.5 to 7, but I think we see Florida money as the week goes along. Both teams are off a bye.
UNLV (-1) at San Jose State – The movement on this game hasn’t been of great significance, down from -2 to -1, but San Jose State has not been favored over an FBS team since the season finale in 2016 against the Fresno State team that went 1-11. San Jose State could very well close a favorite here.
Texas A&M at Mississippi State (-3) – My gut instinct here is that Texas A&M is going to take money once limits increase. There was a minor move to drive the line up from 2.5 to 3 and we could see some additional lines cast by the sneaky bettors that like to massage the markets to get a 3.5 out there. Texas A&M should be the popular side. Mississippi State hasn’t done much this season. A&M is off of a bye. Nick Fitzgerald isn’t the right fit for this offense. I would not be shocked to see this game drop as low as pick ‘em.
Kentucky at Missouri (-7) – Kentucky is a bit of a fraud as far as I’m concerned. I think this week’s line is an indication of that. Missouri can score, but Kentucky has an excellent defense and a running game capable of playing keep away. And Missouri is favored by a touchdown and the initial move on this game was from 6.5 to 7. Pretty telling, eh?
Texas (-3) at Oklahoma State – Let’s see how Tom Herman does with expectations. The preferred role for Herman is as a dog with a lot of bite and a lot of bark. For this trip to Stillwater, Texas opened a small favorite of 1.5 and has been bet up to 3. The Cowboys are not the same as past versions and that is evident in the line movement so far, with Texas -3 -15 at some public books. Sharps and public bettors seem to be aligned here, so this line should keep going north.
Iowa at Penn State (-4.5) – Penn State escaped Bloomington with a win, but it wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t pretty. Bad coaching from James Franklin made that game much closer than it needed to be. Iowa is in Happy Valley this week for a mid-afternoon affair and the Hawkeyes are the preferred side so far, but we haven’t crossed any numbers of meaning. We’ve gone from 5.5 to 4.5. If we hit 4 and go through that, then we start to really pay attention.
Purdue at Michigan State (-2.5) – Fresh off of maybe the biggest win in school history, the Boilermakers are on the road in East Lansing. Michigan State’s clear flaws were exposed in the game against Michigan. That’s not to say that Purdue is anything like Michigan, but Jeff Brohm’s team is one of the most improved in the country over the course of the season. Purdue opened -1, but this line has swung to Michigan State -2.5. While I agree with the move from a PR standpoint, this is predicated on the idea of a letdown for Purdue. I don’t think that’s the reason to bet Sparty here. You better like the matchup and I think enough people won’t to drive this line back down.
Vanderbilt (-1) at Arkansas – The Razorbacks finally let out some frustration and got a win last week, but the market isn’t ready to have them favored in an SEC game. The Commodores opened +2, but bettors have popped them down to PK or -1 across the board. That’s a pretty telling move, since Vanderbilt has been almost unbettable for a while now.
Clemson (-14) at Florida State – It is still extremely weird to see Clemson favored by this much on the road against Florida State, but Dabo Swinney’s team has hit another gear since the close call against Syracuse. Florida State is quietly improving, but the Seminoles are clearly outgunned here. We have seen a modest move down from 15 to 14. Some 13.5s might pop, but they won’t be around long.