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Colorado, Deion Sanders hype causes major line move vs. rival

Updated September 19, 2023 - 9:58 pm

Bettors can’t get enough of Colorado and Deion Sanders, aka “Coach Prime,” who has guided the Buffaloes to two straight wins and easy covers to start the season.

Colorado opened as a 19-point favorite over Colorado State on Sunday morning at Circa Sports before sharp action on the Buffs quickly pushed the number to 23½ for Saturday’s rivalry game in Boulder.

The line settled at 22 on Monday at Circa and the Westgate SuperBook but was at 23 at Station Casinos, which, like most books, took a hit Saturday on Colorado’s 36-14 rout of Nebraska as a 2½-point favorite.

“It’s the hype train,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “There’s a lot of money coming in on Colorado. It was, by far, the most heavily wagered college game. The decision on that game rivaled some of the lesser NFL games on the weekend.”

The Buffs, who went 1-11 last season, opened the year with a 45-42 road win over Texas Christian as 21-point underdogs and up to 8-1 on the money line.

“You’ve got to give Coach Prime his props. The team has looked great out of the gate,” Caesars Sportsbook assistant director of trading Adam Pullen said. “(This) week, they’ve got Colorado State. Even though it’s an instate rivalry, it doesn’t look too good for the Rams.

“The spread might put some people off just because it’s a huge number. But I don’t see the public jumping on Colorado State. The public is enamored with Colorado and I don’t see it stopping this week.”

SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay, a Colorado State alum, doesn’t expect his alma mater to give Colorado much resistance.

“Unfortunately, Colorado has got a bye this week when they play CSU,” he said. “(The Buffs have) improved, especially offensively. They’ve got a lot of playmakers and a lot of speed there. But their defense remains very questionable. They give up a lot of yards and any team that can run the ball will give Colorado a lot of problems.

“We’ll see what they’ve got once they get to Oregon and USC.”

Colorado will play at Oregon on Sept. 23 and host the Trojans on Sept. 30.

“Those are going to be massive games with a lot of hype,” Pullen said.

Assuming Colorado and Oregon both win this weekend, Esposito projects the Ducks to be favored by 16 over the Buffs, while Westgate oddsmaker Ed Salmons projects Oregon to be a 16½-point favorite.

“A lot depends on how Colorado looks against Colorado State,” Salmons said. “Their quarterback (Shedeur Sanders) was sacked seven times and they gave up (222) rushing yards. But Nebraska is so incompetent, most people wouldn’t have known that.”

Other line moves

There were 15 other college football lines that moved by three points or more at Circa after the book posted the opening numbers.

Here are some of the biggest moves:

■ Texas A&M from -31 to -36½ over UL Monroe

■ Wisconsin from -14 to -19 over Georgia Southern

■ Iowa from -24 to -28½ over Western Michigan

■ Rutgers from -3 to -7 over Virginia Tech

■ Kansas from -24 to -28 over UNR.

Vanderbilt also moved from -2 to -4 over UNLV. The game at Allegiant Stadium also saw the total climb from 52½ to 56½.

NFL futures on move

Books have adjusted futures odds on Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Dallas Cowboys after impressive Week 1 performances.

Tagovailoa has improved from 18-1 to 8-1 at BetMGM to win the NFL MVP after throwing for 466 yards and three touchdowns in Miami’s 36-34 win over the Chargers.

The Cowboys have improved from 14-1 at the Westgate to win the Super Bowl to 10-1 after whipping the Giants, 40-0.

“Dallas has a lot of talent and the NFC is definitely down,” Salmons said. “You look at the NFC and you’ve got three teams you can trust in Philly, Dallas and San Francisco, and Detroit is trying to get into that trust factor.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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Las Vegas handicapper Bruce Marshall is an analyst at VegasInsider.com. Each week, he provides the Review-Journal with NFL tech notes and trends.