Opening the Book on College Football Betting
by Richard Gardner | Bookmaker, Bodog.com Sportsbook - 9/2/2009
College football season kicks off on Sept. 3 and I can't tell you how excited we are over at Bodog. Starting with the Oregon Ducks and Boise State Broncos on Thursday night, followed by some nice matchups on Saturday between Alabama and Virginia Tech, Georgia and Oklahoma State, Brigham Young and Oklahoma, (and, in my No. 1 recommended play of the weekend: Nevada +14 ½ at Notre Dame) - you know it's going to be an action-packed start to yet another great season of NCAA football.
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From a sportsbook's perspective, what's interesting about college football is that the No. 1-ranked team tends to draw the biggest handle. Over on NFL side, teams like the Steelers and Cowboys always draw huge numbers - almost regardless of what their season forecast might be or where they ended up in the standings the year before. That means we expect to see a lot of action on the Florida Gators possibly repeating as national champs. Whether they're completely accurate or not, the polls appear to be our betting fans' best friend. That isn't to say that we don't think the Gators have an excellent chance to reach Pasadena, site of this year's BCS national championship game; I'm simply pointing out an obvious betting trend for Bodog Sportsbook bettors.
In 2008, Southern Cal was the team with the biggest handle at Bodog, and Georgia, the preseason No.1 in the polls last season, was second for much of the early season. This year Georgia is pretty far down the list and I anticipate an increase in action for the USC Trojans once fans get a look at freshman starting QB Matt Barkley. I'd go so far as to say that USC-Ohio State game might have the biggest handle for the month of September.
Other interesting trends from 2008: the Michigan Wolverines were getting a lot of love early on, but that disappeared by the end of the first month; and Notre Dame, whose fans are already eager to get an early jump on the old bandwagon. (Note to those fans: If the Irish start with six or seven straight wins, it wouldn't surprise me if Notre Dame garners the biggest handle at Bodog this season.)
As far as Heisman Trophy bets go, we've got Colt McCoy currently ahead of Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow in Heisman handle. Tebow won his Heisman two seasons ago, and Bradford picked up his last year, so the betting public seems to think it's McCoy's turn. I tend to agree with the public on this one.
Going back to Thursday night's game with Oregon and Boise State - if the Broncos beat Oregon on Thursday night, they might have clear sailing to an unbeaten record and a BCS bowl spot. Personally, I lean toward Texas Christian as this year's BCS buster.
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