Besides Clemson-Texas A&M and Louisiana State-Texas, Week 2 of the college football season doesn’t feature many compelling matchups.
But every game is compelling when you have some action on it, and sharp bettors in Las Vegas have placed money on a plethora of matchups on Saturday’s card.
No. 1 Clemson escaped with a 28-26 win over Texas A&M last season in College Station, and wiseguys expect another competitive game Saturday in Death Valley.
CG Technology sportsbook took a $7,700 bet on the underdog Aggies getting 18 points, and sharp action at Caesars Entertainment has driven the number from 18½ to 17.
“That’s such a huge game for Texas A&M. They could’ve beat Clemson last year, and I’m sure they’re going into the game with a lot of confidence that they can win the game,” Westgate sportsbook manager Ed Salmons said. “There’s a chance A&M can give Clemson a decent game there.”
LSU is a 6½-point road favorite over Texas after the line opened at 4. The Tigers whipped Georgia Southern 55-3 last week, and the Longhorns beat Louisiana Tech 45-14. But Texas is so banged up at running back that it moved a true freshman quarterback and a linebacker to running back.
“The public will be all over LSU in that game. At some point, there’s going to be value betting Texas in that game,” Salmons said. “It should be a field goal game either way.”
Longhorns coach Tom Herman is 13-2 against the spread in his last 15 games as an underdog.
Circa Sports was the first sportsbook to post opening lines on college football Sunday and plans to put up sides and totals every Sunday during the first half of the 10 a.m. NFL games.
Circa oddsmaker Matt Lindeman said “it’s all sharp guys” betting the opening numbers, and a handful of games have moved by at least four points.
In some cases, Salmons said, the line moves too far and there’s value in taking the other side. Hawaii-Oregon State is one example. The Rainbow Warriors, coming off a 45-38 win over Arizona, opened as 2½-point home favorites over Oregon State, which lost 52-36 to Oklahoma State. The line has since soared to 6½.
“People saw Oregon State give up a lot of points to Oklahoma State, and they saw Hawaii beat Arizona, so they want to bet Hawaii. I definitely like Oregon State,” Salmons said. “Oregon State has got all these transfers and is supposed to be dramatically improved. I don’t think much of Hawaii. They’re terrible as favorites, too.”
Hawaii is 4-15 ATS in its last 19 games as a home favorite.
Salmons also recommends fading UNLV and UNR. The Rebels were 1-point home underdogs to Arkansas State before rising to 2½-point favorites over the Red Wolves, who lost their opener 37-30 to Southern Methodist. The line has since settled at 1½.
“All the teams that looked so bad last week, they’re just betting against them, which isn’t always the right thing to do. This is one of those overreactions,” Salmons said. “We had one (sharp) group that played Arkansas State at plus 2½. I definitely like Arkansas State. That’s a game I would’ve had Arkansas State by 3 before the year started or even higher. Getting them at plus 2½ is just a gift.”
Oregon is a 24-point home favorite over UNR. The Ducks are coming off a 27-21 loss to Auburn, and the Wolf Pack rallied for a 34-31 win over Purdue.
“After that ridiculous game Oregon choked away, they’ll have something to prove in that game,” Salmons said. “I think Oregon can go score 60 points in that game if they want to.”
Salmons also likes Alabama-Birmingham (-9) over Akron, which was annihilated 42-3 by Illinois.
“Akron is just plain awful,” he said. “Akron is going to be one of the worst five teams in college football this year.”
Other teams Salmons suggest buying back on are Syracuse, a 1½-point underdog at Maryland after opening as a 5-point favorite; and Brigham Young, a 3½-point underdog at Tennessee after opening as a 1-point underdog.
CG Technology also took the following sharp bets: $55,000 on Illinois (-20½), $7,700 on Florida State (-21) and $5,500 on Louisiana-Lafayette (-13).
Caesars took sharp action on Cincinnati (+17) and Alabama — a 54-point favorite over New Mexico State.
“A guy we respect laid 54,” Caesars director of trading Jeff Davis said.