Doc's Friday Public Action Report
by Trevor Whenham - 10/19/2007
As is quickly becoming a trend this year, we had another solid week last week by looking at what the public was doing, spotting the places where the books weren't reacting as expected to the public, and acting on it. In college, we spotted that Alabama was vulnerable, and we found outright NFL winners with both Tampa Bay and Minnesota. It's not always easy to explain why football lines are making unexpected moves, but the fact that they are makes it worthy of attention. The mere fact that they are moving as they are, though, means that something is going on and we need to look at it. So far this year we have identified 32 games that fit our criteria, and 18 of our teams have covered in those games. Though that might not be completely overwhelming, it is still more than 56 percent, and it is an excellent starting point to look at games we might want to bet, and others that we would want to avoid backing a favorite that might otherwise look tempting.
It's a slower week on this front than we have come to expect. We have three college games that fit the criteria, but none in the NFL. There is one NFL game involving a very prominent public team, though, that doesn't specifically fit the criteria but is nonetheless acting a bit different than we might expect and is therefore worthy of attention.
Miami of Ohio (-5.5) at Temple (Saturday, Oct. 20, 12:00 p.m.) - This week 71 percent of bettors have put their money on Miami, yet the line started at the key number of seven and has fallen to 5.5. Though Miami is a better team by record (4-3 vs. 2-5), both teams are strong betting squads with identical 5-2 ATS marks. Supporting Temple, as this line move suggests we should consider, isn't as irrational as it may have been in past years. They have won their last two, including an outright win at Akron last weekend as 12-point underdogs. The Owls' recent form would suggest that the line may have originally been set with the public in mind, and that the smart money is thinking in an opposite direction. That would move the line as it has moved, and that would mean that we should be paying more attention than we normally would to Temple.
Cincinnati (-9) at Pittsburgh (Saturday, Oct. 20, 12:00 pm.) - Almost 80 percent of support is with Cincinnati, but the line opened on the key number of 10 and has fallen to nine in many places. That means that we are in the unfortunate position of having to consider backing the pathetic Dave Wannstedt. The Panthers are just 2-4 and 2-2 ATS, while the upstart Bearcats are 6-1, and 5-1 ATS. Cincinnati, though, has to bounce back this week from the disappointment of losing a winnable game against Louisville to knock them from the undefeated ranks and end their dim BCS hopes completely. Pittsburgh has lost four in a row, and haven't covered in more than a month, so it would take a leap of faith to be backing them. Their loss last week was in overtime, though, and they did have a nice cover against Michigan State earlier in the season, so there could be some reason for hope. More importantly, the movement of the numbers tells us to take a look.
Michigan (-1) at Illinois (Saturday, Oct. 20, 8:00 p.m.) - It kills me to have to talk about this game because the movement of the numbers means I have to talk up Illinois and not my beloved Michigan. The numbers in this case are particularly compelling, though. A whopping 73 percent of support is on Michigan, but the line opened at 3.5 and moved right through the key number of three to end up all the way down at one. 2.5 points is a big move in pure terms, and especially so when the key number of three is involved. After failing to cover twice in a row, Michigan finally rewarded their backers support in fine fashion last week with a blowout of Purdue. Illinois had covered four straight before a very frustrating loss to Iowa last week. Despite recent form for both teams, one obvious factor to explain some of the line movement is the status of Michigan running back Mike Hart. He left the Purdue game at halftime with a sore ankle, and his status and effectiveness are up in the air. He's been the total heart of the offense, so his loss would be problematic. The Michigan defense will also have to deal with a mobile quarterback, and we all know how well that has gone in the past. My heart will strongly be with Michigan, but my mind tells me I need to pay attention to the Illini.
Indianapolis (-3) at Jacksonville (Monday, Oct. 20, 8:30 p.m.) - This game doesn't strictly fit the criteria, but the game is still quite a while away, and the movement, or lack of it in this case, is compelling. Because it is both the Monday night game and Indianapolis, this game is by far the highest betting volume matchup of the week. And 80 percent of that support has been with Indianapolis, yet the line opened on the key number of three and it hasn't budged. With the support that one sided, you can clearly conclude that the books aren't interested in more Jacksonville action than they are already getting, and they aren't in any hurry to give the Jags more than the field goal they have now.