Weekly Football Betting Public Action Report
by Trevor Whenham - 10/31/2014
After a few weeks of technical issues we are back on track this week with the Public Action Report. I don't know about you, but I've missed it. We're back strong with four interesting college football games this week. The Pac-12 is represented by two big games, we get some ACC action, and there is even an independent game to kick things off. As we move into November this is often when the Report is at its best, so here's hoping history repeats itself.
Since it has been a few weeks we should probably take a few seconds to refresh our memories on what this is all about. We are looking for games in which at least 70 percent of bets have been placed on one team. Books won't tell us how much money is bet on each side in most cases, but they will tell us what the distribution of bets has been. Typically, we would expect that the amount of money bet would mirror the bet percentages. We would also expect that lines would move to make the strongly-popular team less attractive to bettors so that action can be more balanced and risk for the sports books can be minimized. What interests us, though, is the games in which there is lopsided action but the line moves to make the team that has drawn more bets more attractive for bettors. When that happens we know that either sharp money - a small number of educated, big-money bettors - has hit the less-popular team hard, or for some other reason the books aren't afraid of heavy action on one side despite their potential to lose big if the popular team covers. Either way, these situations are a good spot to back the less popular team.
Without further ado:
Army (+2.5) vs. Air Force (Saturday, 11:30 a.m. ET): This is the first game on the schedule Saturday morning, so we get into the action early this week. The game opened with Air Force favored by five points. They have drawn more than 85 percent of the bets in this game, yet the line has dropped to 2.5. That much line movement in the face of bets that lopsided is a strong indicator that Army is worth a look. Army ran away with the game in 2012 the last time these teams played at Army, and they were seven-point underdogs, so an upset is far from unprecedented. Air Force has not covered on the road, while Army is 2-1 ATS at home. This game will be played practically at breakfast time for the Air Force since they live out west, so that could affect their play as well.
Pitt (-3.5) vs. Duke (Saturday, Noon ET): This is a particularly interesting one because of the move through the key number of three and because we are in the relatively rare position for this report of betting on a home favorite. The game opened at 1.5 points, and three-quarters of bettors have been on Duke as the underdog. Despite that strong support, though, the line has climbed through the key number of three. That means that sharp money has likely been very strong on the side of the Panthers and that we should be as well. Duke has had a very strong defense so far this year, but Pitt, and especially running back James Conner, will be a good test for them.
Stanford (+8) at Oregon (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET): Given how their season has gone, it's not surprising that the Ducks are favored by eight points or that they have attracted three-quarters of the bets on the game. What is surprising, though, is that Oregon started as 11.5-point favorites, so the line has fallen by more than a field goal. That means that Stanford is worth a close look. Stanford has won the last two meetings - as 10- and 18.5-point underdogs - so they are certainly not intimidated by this rivalry. Stanford has covered the spread is two of their last three, their offense is firing, and the defense got back on track last week after a rough game the week before. Oregon's defense was suspect last week against Cal despite a win, and there is a chance they could be frustrated and distracted by being on the outside of the playoff picture despite having just one win.
UCLA (-6.5) at Arizona (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET): The Wildcats have been one of the more pleasant surprises of the season, and bettors are taking notice - nearly 80 percent of bets have been on Arizona. Despite that, the line has shifted from 4.5 to 6.5. That means that the Bruins get our attention in this one. The Bruins have not played to their potential in the last four games, but they are more than capable of being a strong team, and they have won and covered each of the last two years.
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