It has been a very strong year for the Public Action Report, and this past week was no exception. Three of the six games that were identified wound up being winners, so there would have been a slight loss betting all games against the spread. It was straight up, though, that the report shone - the three underdogs that covered were all upset winners - Wisconsin, Mississippi State, and Kentucky. The Report has been strong all year at picking nice upsets of good teams. Let’s hope it continues - we are going against a couple of good teams this week as well.
Time for a quick reminder of what the Public Action Report is all about. Typically when the action on a game is unbalanced - more than 70 percent of bets placed on one team - we would expect the line movement to make the popular team less attractive so that the action doesn’t get more unbalanced for the books.
What we are interested in, though, is the games in which the action is unbalanced, yet the line move makes the popular team even more attractive. When the line movement is the opposite of what you would expect it typically means that the smart money - a small number of high dollar, successful, intelligent professionals - is on the unpopular side. That means that the unpopular team is worth a close look.
The purpose of the Report isn’t to suggest games you should bet on blindly. It’s far more valuable as a way to spot games you might want to look closer at, and to change your mind on games you might have been thinking about betting.
There are three college games and one from the NFL this week:
Michigan State (-6) at Northwestern (Saturday, Oct. 23, 12 pm ET) - Nearly 80 percent of all bets have been placed on the undefeated Spartans, yet the line has dropped from the key number of seven to the current six. It takes more to move a line off of three or seven than other numbers, so this movement is a good sign that smart money is on Northwestern, and that makes the Wildcats worth a look here.
The Spartans are undefeated and have the schedule and the ability to stay that way. Their biggest remaining test is against Iowa next week, though, so they could be guilty of looking beyond this game.
Northwestern has an efficient offense and has had a week off to prepare for this one, so they could certainly pull off a surprise.
Syracuse (+13.5) at West Virginia (Saturday, Oct. 23, 12 pm ET) - Nearly 85 percent of the bets in this game have been on the Mountaineers, yet the line opened at 16 and has moved through the key number of 14 to the current level of 13.5. That’s a fairly good sized move, and given the balance of bets it’s a good sign that there has been a few bettors betting some serious money on Syracuse.
I’ll be honest and say that I don’t see what makes Syracuse that attractive, but the movement says they are worth a look.
Oklahoma (-3) at Missouri (Saturday, Oct. 23, 8 pm ET) - In this battle of the unbeatens in the Big 12 the public clearly and emphatically sides with the Sooners - they have drawn more than 80 percent of all bets on the game. Despite that, this game opened at 3.5 and has fallen to the key number of three. It can even be found at 2.5 in some books.
A move to or through the key number of three is very significant, and it takes some serious action to get the books to make that move. The fact that some books have even gone through the number is a sign of some very heavy action on Missouri.
This is only the second true road game for the Sooners. In the first they barely beat an unimpressive Cincinnati team, so it’s hard to have a ton of respect for them on the road.
San Francisco 49ers (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers (Sunday, Oct. 24, 1 pm ET) - In this battle of underachieving squads with quarterback issues the public clearly likes the team with the win - the Niners have drawn nearly 80 percent of the bets. Despite that the line has largely stayed locked on the key number of three, and can be found at 2.5 and even 2.0 at several books.
Clearly smart money doesn’t have a lot of faith in the Niners in this spot. San Francisco has just one win in their last 10 road games over the last two seasons, so it’s not hard to believe that people would doubt the Niners - especially when Carolina has ditched Jimmy Clausen for the slightly more reliable Matt Moore this week.