College Football Betting Advice: Public Teams Shaded by Oddsmakers
The college football landscape essentially follows regional divides. The South is dominated by the SEC. The ACC controls the Mid-Atlantic States and pockets in the Panhandle State. The Big Ten has a tremendous following in the Midwest, and the Big 12 garners the attention of the Southwest and western pockets of the Midwest. And the Pac-12 is closely followed on the left coast and points west of the Rockies.
Even with this, there are national programs that recruit coast-to-coast because of their panache (see winning). Many high school players have dreams of playing professionally, and today's savvy youngsters want the best path to reach that level and they seek the right places that will give them the chance to chase those dreams.
On the wagering front, these very same universities of higher learning (some say football factories, we digress) all have massive followings regionally and nationally. And every sportsbook and oddsmaker knows exactly who they are. Each week they will determine a point spread for these teams and try to pad their original number as much as possible. While at the same time attempting not to look too obvious to the less-skilled bettors making football picks and sipping their favorite team's kool-aid.
Opinions will vary like on Paul Finebaum's radio show, but this is one person's thoughts who the most public of teams are. This writer has little doubt Michigan, USC, Texas and Florida State will soon again be wildly public choices and who could be included on anyone's list, just not quite at this moment.
Alabama Crimson Tide: As long as Nick Saban is in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is competing for a National Championship. The recruiting has dipped ever so slightly in recent years, and that is a function of the coaching staff turnover as assistants learn from the master and move on. For those making college football picks, where you see oddsmakers looking to exploit numbers with the Crimson Tide is in the 20+ point market where their intent is less obvious. There is little doubt few teams can match the Tide's talent on their schedule annually. Still, it's rather impressive Saban has covered more than 55 percent of all games in his tenure at Bama.
Ohio State Buckeyes: Count us among those sad to see Urban Meyer go at Ohio State. Besides being a great football coach, he was always one in certain games (though you never knew which one) to run up scores and easily cover spreads, dating back to both Utah and Florida. With Ryan Day now on the hottest seat in the state of Ohio (more pressure on him than the governor or either pro coach), sportsbooks will continue to juice up the Buckeyes where possible and keep a close eye on the head coach. This will include not only Ohio State's results but the type of recruiting classes arriving at Columbus.
Oklahoma Sooners: It seems like it's just a matter of time until Lincoln Riley is the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. For now, he's still at Oklahoma. With Bob Stoops recruits filtering through the Sooners' system, we will have a clearer picture of Riley going forward as a complete coach, not just an offensive guy. Boomer Sooners' fans love the crimson and cream and have no issue putting down money on them. But unless Riley starts bringing in NFL-type defensive linemen and linebackers that plug holes and tackle in space, Oklahoma is no better than a 50-50 bet against the point spread no matter how many points they put up.
Clemson Tigers: When Dabo Sweeney was the interim head coach at Clemson, his antics on the sidelines were like that of a crazy assistant coach. Today, Sweeney is a smooth as fresh custard. His "Ahh Shucks" routine is designed to reduce the scrutiny of one of the best football programs in the country who has recently won two National Championships. If you are a defensive lineman, wide receiver, multi-skilled running back or linebacker and want to play in the NFL, it would be hard to say "no" to Clemson with their draft history of late. Though the Tigers have made headway in recent years, they still are under .500 ATS when handing 20 or more points under Sweeney.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Say what you will about Brian Kelly, but he's made the Irish as relevant in the national scope as any coach in South Bend since Lou Holtz. At the same time, the number of NFL players from Notre Dame is also the highest since Lou was roaming the sidelines. Notre Dame is a fascinating team from a fan and betting perspective. Though Fighting Irish fans love their team, as many or more hate them with a passion. Thus, when it comes to wagering, you often have emotional wagers on both sides of the fence, which pleases sportsbooks because of the added attention and ability to collect the juice.
Georgia/Florida: In the SEC East, these are still the best two programs. And when they are at their best, they remain true threats to make the college football playoffs. Georgia has enjoyed the upper hand lately with Kirby Smart as their coach, but Dan Mullen will turn Florida around sooner than later. Oddsmakers relish the opportunity to book higher spreads when these squads are right.
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