Ferringo Examines Early Line Moves
by Robert Ferringo - 10/23/2007
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 read 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 23-24 against the spread in college movements and 17-9 ATS in the NFL movements. That's 40-33 ATS (54.8 percent) overall. Here are some of the most noticeable and significant early steam movements in both the college and pro football opening lines:
Pittsburgh at Louisville (Noon, Saturday, Oct. 27)
Open: Louisville -14.0.
Current: Louisville -11.5.
Basically, Louisville sucks. There's mutiny in the locker room and these guys have absolutely no pride on defense. The Cardinals are a train wreck, so laying a pair of touchdowns seems absurd. I would have to agree. However, Pitt hasn't beaten the Cards since 1983 with Louisville taking six straight by an average of 16.0 points. Lay the wood at your own risk.
UCLA at Washington State (6:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27)
Open: UCLA -8.0.
Current: UCLA -6.0.
The Bruins are as bipolar as it gets. One week they're turning the ball over 28 times and getting worked over by pathetic Notre Dame. The next they're tooling on the No. 2 team in the country. Following up that big win against rival Cal with a befuddling loss at Washington State would fit their M.O. The Cougars have won five of six both straight up and against the spread in this series and they are 10-3 ATS versus the Bruins since 1993.
Central Michigan at Kent State (1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27)
Current: Central Michigan -2.5.
The Chippewas have dominated this series, going 20-5 against the Golden Flashes over the past 30 years. That gaudy mark includes a 9-3 record at Dix. That being said, road favorites are 3-7 ATS in games involving MAC teams so you have to be bold to make a move on an unsteady CMU club.
Troy at Arkansas State (7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27)
Open: Troy -6.0.
Current: Troy -4.5.
The Trojans have been slaughtering Sun Belt foes, winning their last four games by an average of 22.5 points per game. So seeing them lay under a touchdown has to be enough to make the squares drool. However, it's setting off red flags for me. Over 70 percent of the early betting has gone on Troy but we have a reverse line movement. Also, Arkansas State is 3-0 both straight up and against the spread against Troy since 2004 and 6-1 SU against the Trojans overall. We could have an upset brewing here.
Houston at Texas-El Paso (9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27)
Open: Houston -6.0.
Current: Houston -3.5.
UTEP is Kryptonite to me so I don't go near them. I think they are a horror of a football team, but they managed to cover five straight games to open the season. They hit the wall last week against East Carolina but apparently the boys in Vegas think there's still some profit to be squeezed out of the Miners. Houston has dropped three straight trips to the Sun Bowl by an average of 15.0 points, but UTEP is just 4-10 ATS in its last 14 conference games.
New York Giants at Miami (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28)
Open: New York -10.5.
Current: New York -9.0.
Pride, be it national or personal, could be just enough of a motivator for the Dolphins to bring a strong performance this week in London. The Giants have been on a roll, dominating opponents with a strong running game and blitz-happy defense. But a jaunt over the pond could get them out of the routine and be enough to prevent a cover. You always have to be careful betting against winless teams. You know one is coming sooner or latter.
Detroit at Chicago (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28)
Open: Chicago -4.0.
Current: Chicago -5.0.
It's natural that the public would jump all over a team after an emotional come-from-behind victory. Chicago's heart-stopping win at Philadelphia is being touted as a season saver. But the early bettors must have forgotten what happened to the Bears after their last "season saving" win just two short weeks ago in Green Bay. The Bears are 3-1 ATS in their last four against the Lions in Soldier Field, and they did dominate that Detroit game until the final quarter. I'm thinking revenge, but do we really trust Chicago that much at this point?
For more information about Robert's member's picks, check out his Insider Page here.