Doc's Friday Public Action Report
by Trevor Whenham - 11/23/2007
Last week's Public Action Report wasn't as successful from top to bottom as many we have seen, but it did have its highlights. Most notably, the line movement in the Texas Tech upset over Oklahoma was big enough to give us a hint of what may have been up. Of course, the sportsbooks couldn't have known that Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford would go down early with an injury, but if you watched that game you'd know that Bradford may not have been enough to overcome the dominance of Texas Tech on that night. They were clearly prepared for the game, and they played as if they were possessed. The other game that the public action tipped off was equally compelling. The public liked the Saints against the Texans - they clearly haven't figured out how frustrating this team is right now. Despite that, the line opened with the Saints as slight favorites and ended up with Houston favored by a point. Matt Schaub looked very solid in his return to action, and the Texans barely broke a sweat in the easy win.
This week there is one NFL game and three college games that fit the criteria:
Mississippi (+5) at Mississippi State (Friday, Nov. 23, 12:30 p.m.) - The two teams that are the most fun to spell in all of college football meet up for the 104th time to contest the Egg Bowl on Friday afternoon. This is the first time since 2000 that Mississippi State has been favored, and the books seem to be indicating that they are favored by more than they should be here. About three-quarters of the betting action has been on Sylvester Croom's sometimes-surprising team, yet the line has dropped from the opening level of 6.5 down to the current level of five that can be found. The line could perhaps be explained by the fact that Ole Miss has covered four of their last five, while Mississippi State, though clearly the better team, has been very inconsistent, and is coming in off a bad loss to Arkansas which wasn't as close as the 45-31 score would indicate. Whatever the reason, the action tells us to take a look at Eli Manning's alma mater here.
Alabama (+5.5) at Auburn (Saturday, Nov. 24, 8:00 p.m.) - The Iron Bowl is one of the most bitter, hotly contested rivalries there is, and the new presence of Nick Saban at the helm of the Tide should only ratchet up the intensity. The public in this game, or at least three out of four of them, like the home team. Despite that, the line opened at six, and stayed there for quite a while, but has now started to drop down to 5.5. Though that's not a huge shift in the line, the mere fact that it is happening is worthy of note. It's very reasonable to assume that the public would be more negative in their view of Alabama than they should be given that they are coming off three-straight wins including a very embarrassing and high profile upset at the hands of Louisiana-Monroe. Auburn is coming off a humiliating defeat of its own at the hands of Georgia, though, and Alabama should have a lot of players returning to action after a suspension, which could give them a boost, so the game isn't as one sided as it may first appear. The books clearly don't fear Auburn.
Ball State (-8.5) at Northern Illinois (Saturday, Nov. 24, 4:00 p.m.) - Ball State has the overwhelming support of the public, with more than 90 percent of the action on them. It's not a surprise if you take a look at the two teams. Despite that, the line is falling from the opening of nine to the current 8.5. When the action on a game is so one-sided that is definitely not what you would expect. Northern Illinois only has one win in it's last seven, and two overall, while Ball State has six wins, and comes off a big win over Toledo last week. Ball State is also a very solid 7-3 ATS on the year. There are a couple of factors to explain this movement, though. First, Northern Illinois is better than their record indicates - they have only won twice, but they have covered four games including their last two. More significantly, Ball State has nothing to play for, and has to be frustrated by that. They are out of the hunt in MAC West despite having the same record as division-leading Central Michigan because of their conference record, and may not be playing at their full intensity because of that. That could open the door for a cover by the weaker team.
Minnesota (+7) at New York Giants (Sunday, Nov. 25, 1:00 p.m.) - The Vikings only have the support of 18 percent of the bettors, but the books seem to like them more than that. Despite the one-sided action the line has moved from the opening of 7.5 down to the key number of seven. That makes it easier to get a push, and makes the Giants that much more attractive. That obviously doesn't make sense given the action, so Minnesota is worthy of attention. The Vikings have been inconsistent of late, and they will likely be without Adrian Peterson again, but they have covered two of their last three. The Giants covered their last time out after not covering twice in a row, but they haven't been overwhelming since their trip to play Miami in London. Both teams rely on their run offense, and both teams have very good run defenses (the best in the league in the case of Minnesota). If Minnesota can establish dominance on this front then they could cover here. It seems as if the books agree that that is a real possibility.