Football Betting: Thursday Public Action Report
by Trevor Whenham - 11/27/2008
We're doing the Public Action Report early this weekend because of the holiday, and because so many good games are on Friday. This will also be the last Report of the season since the college regular season is winding down. All good things must come to an end. It seems fitting, then, that we have a large number of college games this week to finish things off. If you have been following the Report the last couple of weeks then you know that it has been red hot in college lately. Let's look at the criteria one last time - we are looking for games in which one team has more than 70 percent of the bets, yet the line is moving to make them more attractive. We also want that line movement to be from, to, or through a key number. That movement tells us that there is something strange going on with the games - most likely smart money - and it tells us that the underdogs are worth more of a look than they might otherwise be.
Just a quick note - as happened last year, the value of the Report has grown as the season has progressed. It still pointed out valuable situations earlier on, but the value has obviously increased as books and sharp bettors get more comfortable with the teams and their performance and capabilities this year.
Here are the last three games of the year for the Report:
Central Michigan (-10) at Eastern Michigan (Friday, Nov. 28, 12:00 pm ET) - This is one of the most intriguingly strange line movements of the year. Central Michigan is a very good team. They can't win their conference because they share a division with Ball State, but they will still make a decent bowl and do well when they get there. Eastern Michigan is terrible. They haven't won since the beginning of October, and that was their first win since the first game of the year. It's no surprise at all that a huge majority of bets - well over 90 percent - have been on the Chippewas. It's truly shocking, though, that the line, which opened at 10.5, is now sitting firmly on the key number of 10. I watch these numbers closely every week, and that just doesn't happen. Typically, action this heavily skewed would send the spread spiraling upwards. The fact that it hasn't means that there is some reason to take a closer look at Eastern Michigan. The only real reason to think that possible is that Central Michigan really doesn't have much left to play for, and they are coming off a disappointing loss to Ball State, they may not be near their full motivation against this lightweight.
Kent State (+9) at Buffalo (Friday, Nov. 28, 2:00 p.m. ET) - The MAC is apparently where the strange stuff lives this week. More than 80 percent of bettors are on Buffalo as they close out their season at home en route to their first ever bowl game. The line, though, isn't flattering to the Bulls. It opened at the key number of 10, but has since dropped to nine. That means we should look at 3-8 Kent State. Though the teams don't match up well - Buffalo has won and covered the last three - an argument can be made for Kent State. Or rather, against Buffalo. This game means little to Buffalo. Their bowl assignment won't change significantly win or lose, and they have already secured their division title. It would be very easy for the team to look beyond this game to their showdown in the MAC championship against Ball State next week - the prospect of being a giant killer is seductive. Further, since nothing is on the line here, the coaching staff will be quick with the hook for their key starters as soon as the game goes well.
Oklahoma (-7) at Oklahoma State (Saturday, Nov. 29, 8:00 pm ET) - For the umpteenth time this year, the biggest game of the week is the Saturday night Big 12 showdown. Oklahoma will strengthen their claim on a spot in the BCS National Championship Game with a win in Bedlam. Oklahoma State can ruin it all for their bitter rival. Not surprisingly, given the performance last week, about nine of out 10 bets have been on Oklahoma. What is surprising, though, is the movement. The game opened at 7.5, but it has dropped to the key number of seven. That means that the Cowboys are worth a look here. The team and their fans desperately hope that that is true. An upset here would seem somewhat unlikely, but it isn't unprecedented - back to back Oklahoma State wins in 2001 and 2002 derailed promising seasons for the Sooners each time.