Ferringo Examines Early Line Moves
by Robert Ferringo - 10/30/2007
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 27-25 against the spread in college movements and 18-10 ATS in the NFL movements. That's 45-35 ATS (56.3 percent) overall. Here are some of the most noticeable and significant early steam movements in both the college and pro football opening lines:
Temple at Ohio (7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2)
Open: Ohio -9.0.
Current: Ohio -7.5.
This makes sense. The Bobcats are awful, and if Temple has enough defense to hang with some of the bigger boys in the MAC then they should be able to roll up on a team ready to roll over on its season. The Owls have won three straight games outright and have covered in six of eight on the season. If you don't believe by now you're likely never going to. Then again, Temple is 3-21 straight up in its last 24 road games in November…
Ball State at Indiana (Noon p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3)
Open: Indiana -8.0.
Current: Indiana -6.5.
Indiana's season has been all about one thing: avenging the death of their former coach, Terry Hoeppner, by getting to a bowl game. After looking like a shoo-in sitting at 5-1 overall, the Hoosiers have dropped three straight and are on the ropes. That makes this game a must-win. But Ball State is a tough out. These two played a 24-23 thriller last year, as now-starters Kellen Lewis and Nate Davis had their coming out parties. Ball State has one-point losses against Nebraska and Miami, OH and played Illinois tough last week. They don't turn the ball over and a TD might be ambitious for IU to cover. However, I have a feeling if they are to get bowl eligible they're going to do it in resounding fashion.
Cincinnati at South Florida (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3)
Open: South Florida -7.5.
Current: South Florida -4.5.
Playing the Bearcats at 7.5 is a brilliant play; it's no reason that number didn't last long. The Bearcats are just as physical, if not more so, than Rutgers or Connecticut - two teams that have hammered the Bulls in the past two weeks. This one should be a grinder with all the value on the points. Last year's game was a 2-0 barnburner at halftime. While I expect a bit more scoring this time around, I also expect a savage effort from a rested Cincy squad. The Bearcats are 3-0 ATS in the last three meetings.
Maryland at North Carolina (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3)
Open: Maryland -1.0.
Current: North Carolina -2.5.
Who really knows what is going on in the ACC these days? On one hand, Maryland has won four straight in this series and are 5-1 since 1999 with an average score of 38-14. On the other hand, in the 67-game history of this "rivalry" no team has ever won five straight. It's Crazy Town in the ACC each week and I think that anyone ballsy enough to make a move on this game should run for the Senate. It would be a nice change of pace.
Louisiana Tech at Idaho (5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3)
Open: Louisiana Tech -6.0.
Current: Louisiana Tech -3.0.
This could be a Red Flag Line because there is really no earthly reason for the Vandals to be hailing less than a touchdown in this wacky WAC tilt. La. Tech has managed around 215 yards per game on the ground over the past two weeks and are now matched up against the No. 85 defense in the country. Idaho doesn't throw the ball well enough to take advantage of the week Bulldogs secondary, and the Vandals needed eight LT turnovers last year to score a 10-point win. I don't see a repeat.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh (8:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 5)
Open: Pittsburgh -7.5.
Current: Pittsburgh -9.0.
You gotta love those rabid Steelers fans; they certainly are willing to line up and hammer the line on their boys. Pittsburgh is clearly the better team here and are playing at home for the first time since Oct. 7, but they are a suspect 0-4 ATS against the hated Ravens over the past two season. The Ravens are 7-4 ATS coming off a bye week, including 3-1 ATS on the road with rest. You would expect a tight, closely contested game between these two teams. But only four of the past 11 meetings have been decided by less than 10 points.
For more information about Robert's member's picks, check out his Insider Page here.