Last Updated: 2019-11-11
Week 12 of the college football season has arrived with more MACtion and more matchups with College Football Playoff implications. We get started on Tuesday and run right on through Saturday, as eight weeknight games and a full slate of Saturday action will excite CFB enthusiasts.
Like I wrote about in my Week 12 College Football Power Ratings article, PRs hold a little less importance at this time of the year because of all the extenuating circumstances involved with these games. We should also see fewer early-week line moves based on PRs. We may see them based on injuries or something else, but the grabbing of numbers isn’t nearly as prevalent when the market tightens up to this degree.
That doesn’t mean we won’t have any. That doesn’t mean we won’t have a lot to talk about. It just means that line moves may come a little later in the week, especially with bankrolls getting tied up by the four other huge betting markets that are in season.
Let’s take a look at the Week 12 College Football Opening Line Report:
301/302 Eastern Michigan (-17) at Akron – This line actually opened 14.5 at Circa in Las Vegas and wasn’t high enough. BetOnline opened 17 and the rest of the offshore market followed suit. This is the first time in two years that Eastern Michigan has been favored by 17 or more against an FBS school. It is the largest road favorite role ever for the Eagles. EMU’s only other favorite role of 14 or more on the road came in 1995 against Kent State. The Eagles won 40-17. Akron hasn’t scored a touchdown since September 28, so the big number seems justified.
307/308 Northern Illinois at Toledo (-2.5) – The game that started the #MACtion craze back in 2010 was Northern Illinois vs. Toledo. The two teams have fallen off since then and really have fallen off a ton since 2016-17. The MAC is so inconsistent this season that these weeknight games just aren’t fun handicaps. This line opened the standard-issue -3 at Circa and is sitting 2.5 across most of the offshore market. It seems like a fitting number.
311/312 Buffalo (-5) at Kent State – This one is on the rise early in the week. Buffalo opened 4.5 offshore and 1.5 at Circa. Now it sits at 5. A lot of Buffalo money has been hitting the market this season with a lot of belief in Lance Leipold, who is likely to leap to a better job after the season. Kent State was something of a sharp darling early in the year, but the Golden Flashes must be underwhelming to some degree. Buffalo taking money here on the road early in the week is one of the most interesting developments with the MACtion games.
319/320 West Virginia at Kansas State (-15) – Be on the lookout for a quant vs. handicapper split here. I think we see sharp money both ways. The quant crowd hates WVU and for good reason, as the stat profile for the Mountaineers is not good. Kansas State is now in a big favorite role after playing three very emotional games in a row. Something tells me that we get WVU money from the handicapping crowd in the middle of the week. It’s also worth noting that Circa opened 12 here.
321/322 Virginia Tech (-6) at Georgia Tech – Bettors that have been on the VA Tech train the last two weeks have been validated in a big way. The Hokies beat Wake Forest last week and nearly beat Notre Dame as a big underdog a couple weeks ago. We’re seeing some slight interest in VA Tech up from -5.5 to -6, but something tells me that this line will sit here for a while. Georgia Tech has been something of a plucky underdog this season.
325/326 Indiana at Penn State (-14) – The market is pretty split between 14 and 13.5. Indiana is in the top 25 for the first time in 25 years. Penn State’s playoff hopes are not gone, as running the table should be enough to get the Nittany Lions in the CFP, but that would mean beating Ohio State and Minnesota in a rematch. Getting through this game is step one, but the markets seem to be a little interested in the underdog Hoosiers here. This will be a good line to watch throughout the week.
331/332 Ohio State (-51) at Rutgers – LOL. Ohio State is -51. The line at Circa opened 50.5 with a total of 55. That is absurd. This is the second-largest road favorite role in college football history. Can you really take Rutgers here? Ohio State just scored 73 on a Maryland team that beat Rutgers 48-7. Can you really lay 51 with Ohio State? It will be interesting to see if there is any movement one way or another here.
333/334 Louisville (-4.5) at NC State – This line is on the rise. We saw sharp money hit the board and be absolutely correct on Miami against a Louisville team off of a bye. This week, Louisville is getting the love, as this line has jumped from 3.5 to as high as 5 in the market. Right now, 4.5 looks like the right number, but it certainly has the chance to keep going,
335/336 Minnesota at Iowa (-3) – Won’t it be great to hear all of the talking heads flap their gums about how Iowa could possibly be favored over Minnesota? It’s going to be great. Iowa is in fact a three-point favorite. Given the body of work for both teams, the idea that this game is a pick ‘em on a neutral will be crazy to some. I would presume we go down to 2.5 and maybe even 2, as the line is trending that way with the dog juice at -15 or -20 in the market.
337/338 Wake Forest at Clemson (-32) – Bet Clemson at open. Get CLV. Get rich. Is that how it’s going to go the rest of the regular season? It worked last week against NC State. We’ll see if it works again here against Wake Forest. The line is up from 30.5 to 32 market-wide with the Tigers laying a big home price. They’ll be in the top four in the CFP rankings this week, so that motivating factor won’t be used as justification for those laying the big price. How about the fact that they’re just really good?
339/340 Central Michigan at Ball State (-3) – Keep an eye on this line. This is a Saturday MAC game and these are two play-on teams for the most part. The conference doesn’t seem to have a lot of those, but these two teams have played exceptionally well of late. Both have exceeded expectations. There are some 2.5s out there already and the +3s have extra juice. It sure seems like the early side is CMU.
343/344 UMass at Northwestern (-38) – The Wildcats have scored nine points per game in conference play and have scored 100 points in nine games. They are a 38-point favorite against UMass. College football is weird this season.
349/350 UCLA at Utah (-21) – Did we finally get a line high enough not to see Utah money? Utah’s dominant win over Cal is going to look even better with Cal’s win over Washington State. UCLA has been a sharp darling of late. This line has ticked up from 20.5 to 21 and we have seen a lot of sharp interest and involvement with Utah early in the week. That appears to be the case here.
357/358 Navy at Notre Dame (-8) – Navy is getting some early-week love against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are a pretty tough team to peg. They almost lost at home to Virginia Tech and then went on the road and rolled Duke. Now Notre Dame is back in South Bend to take on the triple-option of the Middies. This line was 10, but it has since come down to 8. Circa opened at 11 and took Navy money right away. We’ll see how this one plays out over the course of the week, but right now Navy seems to be the sharp side in a big way.
371/372 Georgia (-3) at Auburn – There are still a few 2.5s hanging around at Pinnacle and Matchbook, the sharpest of the offshore shops, but most of the market is on -3 for Georgia’s visit to Auburn. Georgia has been a pretty popular team in the marketplace this season. Bettors still don’t seem to know what to do with Auburn, largely because of Bo Nix. Will this line move off of 3? It probably will, but 3.5 might get immediate buyback on the home dog. This will be a good line to watch throughout the week to see if sharp bettors tip their hands.
377/378 Texas at Iowa State (-6.5) – Tom Herman is back in that preferred underdog role in this one. Iowa State has played some really tough games over the course of the season and last week’s effort against Oklahoma was quite taxing. The Cyclones were a sharp darling for several weeks in a row before Oklahoma took money last week. What happens this week? Will the sharp bettors lay it with Iowa State? There are a lot of 6.5s out there and even a 6 at this point, so Texas looks to be the early side.
379/380 TCU (-2) at Texas Tech – TCU continues to be a sharp side. The Horned Frogs have been very popular among professionals thanks to a good defense and the play of Max Duggan. This is a flipped favorite scenario with TCU now laying points in Lubbock. We almost never see flipped favorites go to -3 barring an injury situation, so this is the stopping point for this line unless it goes to 2.5.
381/382 Oklahoma (-9.5) at Baylor – Sharp money hit the Sooners last week. Sharp money seems to be hitting the Sooners this week as well. Baylor has some questions to answer this week and the early betting market seems uncertain that those answers will be coming. We aren’t up to 10 just yet, but we are trending that way, as even Pinnacle is 9.5 with extra juice on the road favorite.
393/394 Rice at Middle Tennessee (-12.5) – Remember when Rice was taking sharp money week after week? That appears to have stopped. Now Middle Tennessee has gone up from 11.5 to 12.5 for this Conference USA clash. The Owls just didn’t do enough to keep sharp bettors happy and the subsequent adjustments have made Rice a fade team the last couple of games.
397/398 Alabama (-20.5) at Mississippi State – It sure looks like the market is expecting a very unhappy Alabama team this week. This line is trending towards 21 after opening in the 19.5 range. My personal guess is that Mac Jones plays this week for Alabama, which will result in a line adjustment. The Crimson Tide can win this week and next week without Tua. He won’t be winning the Heisman. Get him healthy for the Iron Bowl, hope for a blowout of Auburn, and then let the CFP chips fall where they may. Be careful laying the big number here is what I’m saying.
399/400 Wisconsin (-13.5) at Nebraska – Remember when Nebraska was supposed to be good? This line at the Golden Nugget for Games of the Year was Wisconsin -1. It is almost two touchdowns and going up at this point in time. What a difference a few months makes, eh?
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