Ferringo Examines Early Line Moves
by Robert Ferringo - 10/09/2007
It's time once again for that weekly waltz that occurs between our friends over at the Las Vegas Sports Consultants and the sharp gamblers that pry apart the early college football spreads. Essentially, the LVSC recommends the lines to their clients, the sportsbooks, each week and the books respond by posting a suitable opening number. The sharps then come along like ravenous wolves encircling a wounded animal, ready to pounce on any number that they feel displays weakness or vulnerability. The result is an early week steam move on those seemingly weak lines, and that helps set the number that a majority of bettors in the general public will then have to wager on.
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Just as there is a science and an art to setting the lines, it also requires a certain amount of skill to be able to red these opening line movements. Like stockbrokers, handicappers and bettors can learn a lot about a game by the way the early line moves break. To this point, sharp action has gone 18-17 against the spread in college movements and 14-8 ATS in the NFL movements. That's 32-25 ATS (56.1 percent) overall. Here are some of the most noticeable and significant early steam movements in both the college and pro football opening lines:
Florida State at Wake Forest (8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11)
Open: Florida State -3.5.
Current: Florida State -6.0.
The luster has clearly worn off the Deacons. Wake Forest is now a home underdog after their less-than-impressive win over lowly Duke last Saturday. However, FSU wasn't exactly stellar while holding of N.C. State. Wake Forest won 30-0 in Tallahassee last season and it was their first win over the Seminoles since 1973. Looks like the books are expecting revenge, but can you really trust Xavier Lee laying points on the road?
Cincinnati over Louisville (7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13)
Open: Cincinnati -7.5.
Current: Cincinnati -10.0.
The Bearcats have been the best bet in college football this season, posting a 5-0 ATS record. Conversely, the Cardinals have been one of the most disappointing teams in the nation, losing four of out of five against the number and three out of five overall. I guess it's safe to say that the players haven't taken to Steve Kragthorpe. The defense can't stop anyone but the Cards are 7-2 ATS against the Bearcats.
Oklahoma State at Nebraska (12:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13)
Open: Nebraska -7.0.
Current: Nebraska -4.0.
Good ol' Bill Callahan. The man never met a Big Game that he couldn't have his team unprepared for - with last weekend's 41-6 whitewashing in Missouri as the latest example. Now Bill gets to come home to an angry fan base and try to take on an OSU team that they are 1-4 ATS against over the last five seasons. Nebraska hasn't played well since early September, and the Big 12 South still owns this conference, so laying any points in this one could be dicey.
Connecticut at Virginia (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13)
Open: Virginia -6.5.
Current: Virginia -3.5.
My friend Nolan has a firm rule when betting any college sport - always take a Big East team over an ACC team, in any sport. I don't have any solid numbers for you but I can say without question it's been one of the most profitable systems I've ever played. Clearly I'm not the only one.
Indiana at Michigan State (9:15 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13)
Open: Michigan State -7.5.
Current: Michigan State -5.0.
The Hoosiers have been playing inspired ball all season and have been one of the best stories in college football. They've also been one of the best bets in the business, and are facing a team they put a 25-point beat down on last year. However, the Spartans have won eight of 10 in this series and are 4-1 ATS recently.
Central Florida at South Florida (Noon, Saturday, Oct. 13)
Open: South Florida -14.0.
Current: South Florida -11.5.
This is a lot of points for what is becoming a heated rivalry. The Bulls are 2-0 straight up and ATS over the past two meetings and the Knights are a horrendous against the Big East, posting a 1-10 ATS mark. These are two very physical squads and I'm looking for a grinder here. Also, USF has a crucial Thursday game at Rutgers lurking so their heads may not be 100 percent in this game. That is, until central Florida punches them in the face.
Miami at Cleveland (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 14)
Open: Cleveland -5.5.
Current: Cleveland -4.5.
Last week the early line movement against the Dolphins was off the mark, as the early action shaded toward Houston but the Fins managed to hang in there for a cover. What is interesting about this line is that it has dropped despite the announcement that Cleo Lemon will be under center for Miami. It appears that the sharps are looking for Miami to finally get into the win column, taking advantage of Cleveland's letdown after their game against the Pats.
Oakland at San Diego (4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 14)
Open: San Diego -9.0.
Current: Oakland -10.5.
Apparently all it took to make people forget about three straight weeks of pathetic play was one blowout win over a weak Denver team. Sorry, I'm not buying. This game is moving past a key number and will likely climb to around 12.0 by kickoff. I know it seems like madness to back the Raiders on the road, but it is seemingly just as foolish to lay double digits against a team that's coming out of a bye week. If you ask me, there are two many unbelievably unreliable components to this game - Daunte Culpepper, Norv Turner, etc. - to make a move. But if you have to jump on a side I think I'd go against the public here.
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