Early Week Line Movements
by Robert Ferringo - 09/09/2008
Last year we tracked the opening steam movements of lines in both college football and the NFL. The idea was to see if the "sharp" money was really that, or if the idea of trailing these severe early line movements was merely a myth. Well, I'm glad to say that we are back at it this season and ready to build on last year's research.
Here is the basic methodology. If a line starts as Penn State (-1) and moves to Penn State (-4) then we're going to track Penn State as our side, because the Lions are getting all of the money and driving the spread up. If the line starts as Penn State (-4) and then moves to Penn State (-2) we're going to track the opponent because they are taking the heavy action and it's moving the line lower.
Over the past two seasons the overall record of the teams on the side of our "steam" move are just 21-27. In the opening week of our tracking these sides actually turned a minor profit, going 4-3 on the week.
Here are our Week 2 games:
Hawaii at Oregon State (4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13)
Open: Oregon State -9.0
Current: Oregon State -12.0
Tracking: Oregon State
Apparently folks aren't too high on the Warriors when they come to the mainland. Hawaii is just 15-21 ATS in its last 36 road games and they were decimated at Florida when we saw them last. Oregon State is still licking its wounds from two brutal losses - a last-second defeat at Stanford followed by an ass-kicking in Happy Valley - but the early money suggest that the Beavers, and their pathetic defense, will bounce back. We will see.
Southern Mississippi at Arkansas State (7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13)
Open: SMU -2.5
Current: Arkansas State -1.5
Tracking: Arkansas State
Kansas at South Florida (8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12)
Open: South Florida -6.0.
Current: South Florida -3.5.
In the biggest game of the weekend that doesn't involve USC and Ohio State, the sharp money appears to be on the Kansas Jayhawks. South Florida is coming off a relatively emotional rivalry game at UCF. And the way they folded in the last five minutes of that game before winning in overtime could be a red flag for the Bulls. Kansas is nothing short of money over the last two years, posting a 13-1 ATS mark in their last 14 games. Also, the Bulls are 0-5 ATS in their last five against teams with a winning record.
Michigan at Notre Dame (Saturday, Sept. 13)
Open: Michigan -4.0.
Current: Notre Dame -1.0
Tracking: Notre Dame
There has been a lot of trash talk going on in the lead-up to this game. But the bottom line is that neither one of these teams is very good so it should be considered a coin-flip game. Notre Dame does have double revenge, especially after last year's 38-0 white washing. But instead of playing possum and springing the trap, Charlie Weis and Co. have run their mouths about the Wolverines and gotten their full attention.
Wisconsin at Fresno State (10:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13)
Open: Fresno State -2.0.
Current: Wisconsin -1.5.
Apparently bettors were swayed more by Wisconsin's 51 unanswered points against Marshall than they were the Badgers' 14-point deficit to start the game. Wisconsin is 26-4 straight up in its last 30 nonconference games (12-4 ATS run) and are 7-0 in their last seven nonconference road games. However, the Badgers are 0-6 ATS in their last six road games and they are playing a team whose entire season may be defined by this contest. Fresno State is just 3-10 ATS at home and 3-11 ATS against teams with a winning record.
Ohio State at Southern California (8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13)
Open: USC -7.5
Current: USC -11.0
This one is kind of self-explanatory. Ohio State has been humiliated in its last two nonconference games against power teams from BCS conferences. Early action also reflects the last impression that each team has given from its last game: a 51-7 maiming that USC handed Virginia and a 26-14 squeaker that Ohio State managed against lowly Ohio. I don't think this line is finished moving.
California at Maryland (Noon, Saturday, Sept. 13)
Open: California -10.0
Current: California -14.5
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13)
Open: Va. Tech -10.0
Current: Va. Tech -7.0
Tracking: Georgia Tech
Temple at Buffalo (Noon, Saturday, Sept. 13)
Open: Buffalo -3.0
Current: Buffalo -6.5
Georgia at South Carolina (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13)
Open: UGA -9.5.
Current: UGA -7.0
Tracking: South Carolina
This series has been extremely close over the last four years, with three of those games being decided by four points or less and the average margin at just seven points per. Both of these clubs boast incredible defenses and the thinking is apparently that South Carolina's home edge and hard-hitting defense could keep them close in what has become a nearly must-win SEC game. Georgia has won four straight in Columbia by an average of nine points.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
New York Giants at St. Louis (1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 14)
Open: New York -6.5
Current: New York -9.0
Tracking: New York
Wait, you mean everyone wasn't impressed with St. Louis after they got absolutely hammered by Philadelphia on Sunday? Weird. Eli Manning and the Giants are suddenly one of the more stable, secure teams in the NFL. What the hell is going on? But the Super Bowl Champs should expect to be shackled with serious spreads all season long. And as bad as the Rams looked last weekend they are still 4-0 ATS against the G-Men and last week dogs over 7.5 went 3-0 ATS.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay (4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 14)
Open: Tampa Bay -9.5
Current: Tampa Bay -8.0
Atlanta definitely opened some eyes on Sunday and, outside of Carolina, were the surprise of the week. From what I've seen of this Falcons team I see no reason why they can't compete. They have a power running game behind a massive offensive line and their defense looks like they can hit some people. Tampa may be a bit deflated after losing a key game at New Orleans, and starting QB Jeff Garcia is 50-50 this weekend with a bad ankle. But playing at home should give them a big boost, and Jon Gruden's QB stable door is always open. The favorite is 5-0 ATS in this series.
New England at New York Jets (1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 14)
According to published reports, Tom Brady was worth about 10 points on the spread in this game. However, he is apparently only worth about three points to the total. Curious. The Patriots definitely became more ground-oriented when Brady left against K.C. over the weekend and I expect that to continue. Of course, just because everyone expects the Patriots to come out and run the ball 50 times I can see Bill Belichick deciding to throw the ball about 60 times. Both the Pats and Jets held their opponents to just 10 and 14 points last week, respectively, and both coaches may play this one a bit closer to the vest given the divisional rivalry aspect. However, there are still a LOT of playmakers on both sides of the ball here.