Football Betting: Weekly Public Action Report
by Trevor Whenham - 10/15/2010
The Public Action Report has been having a very good year. Last week wasn’t as strong as the ones before it, but at 4-3 it was still nicely profitable. This week we have encountered a situation that we haven’t seen in a long, long time - no NFL games fit our criteria. Luckily, college football is more than willing to pick up the slack - there are many games that fit to some extent, and six that are particularly interesting.
As always, a quick refresher. We can’t easily find out the amounts of money bet on each team in a football game - the books don’t like letting that information out. What they do release, though, is the distribution of bets - the number of bets placed on each team.
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As a general rule we would assume that when a large portion of those bets - more than 70 percent - are on one side in a game then the majority of money would be on that team as well and the odds would be adjusted to make that team less attractive in an attempt to balance the action. Sometimes, though, the large majority of bets will be on one team, yet the line will move to make that team more attractive.
That likely tells us one of two things - either a few bettors have bet a large amount of money on the unpopular team (that’s called the smart money), or for some reason the books just aren’t afraid of attracting unbalanced action because they aren’t afraid of being overexposed and losing too much.
No matter what the reason, this kind of line movement is a good indicator that the public isn’t on the right side. This can be a good way to spot potential upsets - for example, the Report picked South Carolina over Alabama last week. Here are the six games this week with info on the college football line moves:
Illinois (+7) at Michigan State (Saturday, Oct. 16, 12 pm ET) - More than three-quarters of all bets have predictably been on the undefeated Spartans, yet the line has dropped from the opening 7.5 to the key number of seven. That means that Illinois is worth a look. Michigan State is rolling, but they have the distractions of Mark Dantonio’s health and Chris L. Rucker’s legal woes to deal with, and Illinois is coming off a very dominating win at Penn State so they are confident and effective.
South Carolina (-4.5) at Kentucky (Saturday, Oct. 16, 6 pm ET) - The Gamecocks are flying high after a huge upset of Alabama, and the public is obviously taking notice of them. They have drawn more than 70 percent of the action here, yet the line has dropped from 6.5 to 4.5. That means Kentucky is worth a look. South Carolina could be vulnerable for a letdown and Kentucky played Auburn very tight last week, so they could be primed to at least keep this one close.
Iowa (-3) at Michigan (Saturday, Oct. 16, 3:30 pm ET) - More than three-quarters of the bets in this game have been on Iowa, yet the line has dropped from four to the key number of three. That means that my beloved Michigan Wolverines are worth a look. They are coming off an ugly loss to the Spartans last week, but the defense is making gradual progress, and they match up better with Iowa than with Michigan State. Iowa’s defense is very stout, but their only rough outing was against Arizona - another team with a dynamic quarterback who can make you hurt in several ways.
Oregon State (+2) at Washington (Saturday, Oct. 16, 10:15 pm ET) - The Beavers have drawn more than 70 percent of bets, yet they started out as favorites of 1.5 points and are now underdogs of two points. That means that Washington is worth a look. This is the fourth big game in a row for Oregon State - with three on the road - so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were set for a letdown here.
Ohio State (-3.5) at Wisconsin (Saturday, Oct. 16, 7 pm ET) - More than three-quarters of the bets on this game have been on the new No. 1 team in the country, yet the line has fallen from 6.5 all the way to 3.5. That’s a move of a full field goal, and that’s significant. Wisconsin is worth a look. The Badgers are talented and bounced back well from their only loss, while Ohio State has won without looking totally dominant. Wisconsin will be fired up for this game, and they are at home.
Mississippi State (+7.5) at Florida (Saturday, Oct. 16, 12:30 pm ET) - Florida has drawn nearly 17 out of every 20 bets on this game, yet the line has dropped from 9.5 to 7.5. That’s a clear sign that Mississippi State is worth a look. Florida has looked unimpressive while losing two weeks in a row. Mississippi State beat up on Georgia and played Auburn tight, so they are a dangerous team - especially if they can limit their interceptions.