Ferringo Examines Early Line Moves
by Robert Ferringo - 10/16/2007
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.
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 20-21 against the spread in college movements and 15-9 ATS in the NFL movements. That's 35-30 ATS (53.8 percent) overall. Here are some of the most noticeable and significant early steam movements in both the college and pro football opening lines:
South Florida at Rutgers (8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18)
Current: South Florida (-3).
Unfortunately, it looks like the squares are catching up with the South Florida Bulls. The Bulls are now a solid road favorite in a primetime spot against a team that knows a little something about chopping down Goliath. Thursday's game could be yet another venue for USF to show that they're for real in front of a suddenly curious national audience. This is also a rematch of one of the best games in the Big East last year - a tough-to-swallow 22-20 Rutgers win. I think this line gets over 4.0 by kickoff, and don't discount the Scarlet Knights' experience in these spots.
Louisville at Connecticut (8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 19)
Current: Louisville -3.5.
Is that a letdown I smell? The Cardinals finally showed a pulse, disrupting the Cincinnati Killing Machine last week with a big rivalry win. Now the same U of L squad that couldn't stop Middle Tennessee, Syracuse, or Utah is matched up with a UConn team that likes to sling the ball around. You can't blame everyone for backing the Cardinals, given that they allegedly have Top 10 talent and have won their last three against the Huskies by an average of 20 points. But Louisville didn't cover in their last trip to Storrs and I don't know if their defensive issues have really been fixed.
Ball State at Western Michigan (2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20)
Open: Western Michigan -1.5.
Current: Ball State -1.5.
>From a gambling perspective, Western Michigan has to be one of the more disappointing teams in the country. They are just 1-5 ATS this year after squeaking by a horrid Northern Illinois squad. Now they're home dogs to a team that's covered four of its last five lined games and is coming off a tune-up win over a D-II school. Ball State is just 2-5 ATS as a road favorite, but WMU is just 3-10 ATS as a home dog.
Texas Tech at Missouri (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20)
Open: Missouri -6.0.
Current: Missouri -3.5.
The last three meetings between these two schools have seen an average of 80 points per game, so three or four points certainly don't seem like that much. These are two of the most explosive offenses in the country and this game should come down to whichever team can limit the turnovers. The Red Raiders are 0-2 in their only two trips to Columbia, having been outscored 48-19 in their previous games there. Also, Tech is just 4-7 SU following its rivalry game with A&M.
Florida at Kentucky (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20)
Open: Florida -4.5.
Current: Florida -7.0.
The Wildcats managed to stun the No. 1 team in the country last week…but can they pull off two monumental upsets in one eight-day stretch? Apparently the early action doesn't think so. The Gators had the benefit of a week off after cracking skulls with LSU and now catch UK in a prime letdown situation. Florida has won 20 straight games in this series and Urban Meyer's clubs are 21-2 SU with more than a week to prepare.
Ohio at Toledo (7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20)
Open: Ohio -3.0.
You don't come into the Glass Bowl and lay points. You just don't. Toledo is 40-6 straight up in their last 46 home games and is 6-1 ATS as a home dog since 2000. Also, the Rockets have owned this series lately, winning 10 straight. In fact, the Bobcats haven't won in Toledo since 1967 (0-15). So, as poorly as the Rockets have played they still aren't bad enough to be getting points at home.
New England at Miami (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21)
Open: New England -14.0.
Current: New England -17.5.
Something tells me the Dolphins are going to be 0-7 after this week. The Patriots have covered the spread in all six of their games to this point so you can't stop betting them until they lose. The public knows this. Vegas knows this. Hell, even my cats know this. I don't see this number coming down and it takes a lot of stones for someone to throw a dime on the Dolphins, even if they are 7-2 ATS against the Patriots in Miami.
Baltimore at Buffalo (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21)
Open: Baltimore -4.5.
Current: Baltimore -3.0.
When last we saw these Buffalo Bills they were blowing yet another game to devastate the home crowd. Baltimore still can't score enough points to be considered a solid favorite bet, but their defense has yielded just 10 points over its past two games and now gets a shot at a Bills offense it should be able to contain. The Ravens are just 2-5 ATS as a non-divisional road favorite over the past four years and they are 2-9 ATS after allowing less than seven points.
For more information about Robert's member's picks, check out his Insider Page here.