Football Betting: Early Week Line Movements
by Robert Ferringo - 10/14/2008
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.
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 last two weeks the "sharps" and early line moves have posted a combined 4-15 ATS mark. Last weekend just three of the 11 early line moves posted in this space saw their squad cover the line. And that includes posting USC as a victory (we had them posted at -26.5) even though the line continued to trend upward and eventually closed at -28.5. For the 2008 season the Early Line Movements have gone 27-29 in seven weeks of tracking both college and the pros. That also runs the two-year total on these situations to 50-47.
Here are this week's games:
Connecticut at Rutgers
Open: Rutgers -3.5
Current: Connecticut -1.0
Not a lot of faith in the Rutgers camp these days. The Scarlet Knights are 1-5 and in the midst of a full-blown mutiny against sagging quarterback Mike Teel. Over 70 percent of the early action is on the Huskies, who have gone 5-0-1 ATS in this series. The only issue I have is that the Scarlet Knights have played better. They have covered their last two games at Cincy and at West Virginia and their last three games against D-I teams have been on the road. Connecticut is still going with a backup quarterback and Rutgers is in Desperation Mode.
Georgia Tech at Clemson
Open: Clemson -4.0
Current: Georgia Tech -1.0
Tracking: Georgia Tech
Looks like Tommy Bowden was worth about five points. I'm assuming that the line movement is because sharps and oddsmakers don't think that the players and coaches can handle the shakeup at the top. But what they fail to account for is the fact that Bowden was a terrible in-game coach and he obviously wasn't getting to his players. Georgia Tech is tough. But Clemson is clearly more talented. Bowden's outster could be just the thing to snap them out of it. Georgia Tech was terrible against Gardner Webb last week (10-7 win), has played three straight at home, and got demolished 31-7 in their last trip to Clemson. Further, the underdog is 12-1 ATS in this series.
Kansas at Oklahoma
Open: Oklahoma -14.0
Current: Oklahoma -19.0
The expectation is clearly that the Sooners are going to come back with a vengeance after their stunning loss to rival Texas. And why not? Oklahoma is 7-3 ATS the week after playing the Longhorns. They handled the Jayhawks in Lawrence last year, and they are clearly the more physically imposing team. That said, this is a whole lotta points to lay. The Jayhawks are 20-6 ATS in their last 26 games and have been a great underdog.
Army at Buffalo
Open: Buffalo -16.0
Current: Buffalo -10.0
Whereas the early action suggests a Sooners bounce back, they are looking for a Buffalo letdown. The Bulls suffered a devastating overtime loss at home last week against Western Michigan. And that came just two weeks after a grueling two-point loss at Central Michigan. And at 2-4 the Bulls are now large favorites over an Army team off three straight covers, two straight wins, and playing its best ball of the year. It's a tough spot for Buffalo. But this team is much, much better than its record suggests.
Florida Atlantic at Western Kentucky
Open: Florida Atlantic -4.0
Current: Western Kentucky -1.0
Tracking: Western Kentucky
The Hilltoppers are still searching for that first D-IA win. They actually outplayed Ball State, a Top 25 club, last week but were done in by turnovers inside the red zone. They are also getting a crack here at a Florida Atlantic team that was overwhelmed at home in primetime last week, and an Owls group that has severely underachieved to this point in the season. This is a tricky spot and really a tough one to call. But the sharps seem to have made their position very clear.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Dallas at St. Louis (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 19)
Open: Dallas -9.0
Current: Dallas -7.0
Tracking: St. Louis
Right now this game is a middlers dream. I have seen the Cowboys posted as low as a six-point favorite and as high as an 11-point chalk. The line fluctuation is a result of Tony Romo's broken pinky. That, coupled with St. Louis' inspired performance against Washington over the weekend gives the Rams the illusion of a live dog. However, St. Louis is still 30th in total offense and 31st in total defense. One last-second win against Washington doesn't gloss over the real issues with this club.
Indianapolis at Green Bay (4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 19)
Current: Indy -1.0
About 80 percent of the early action here is on the Colts, who absolutely overwhelmed a Baltimore team that had been overrated. Granted, the Colts are getting healthy at the right time. But they are a couple fluke plays away from being 1-4 instead of 3-2. Green Bay is just as dicey. They did blow out Seattle in one of the toughest venues in the league to play in. But everyone blows out Seattle these days. Neither team stops the run and both have prolific offensive attacks. Should be fun to watch. But not that enjoyable to bet.