Taking bets during college football bowl season is the Wild West for American bookmakers.
Managing spreads and totals on games between two teams that otherwise would never play each other is one thing, but a sportsbook also has to quantify coaching changes, motivation and player status.
And books get exposed when bettors gain information ahead of the house.
“I always tell my guys to take a bet,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews told NESN. “But during bowl season, you don’t have to take a bet to move off a number. Move off the news and move fast. There are suspensions, coaches leave and pro prospects have two feet out the door for the NFL.
“The standard for the regular season gets thrown out the window for the bowl season.”
The first wild line movement of bowl season happened on Monday afternoon when rumors first broke about Nevada head coach Jay Norvell leaving the program and quarterback Carson Strong opting out of the game.
Nevada was a consensus six-point favorite in the Quick Lane Bowl against Western Michigan when news started to hit the internet around 12:45 pm. Nevada was a three-point favorite by 3 pm and now the market is Nevada -1 or a pick ’em depending on where you shop. News and money travel fast, you see.
Notable college football line moves
Purdue -3 to +3.5 vs. Tennessee
Nevada -6 to PK vs. Western Michigan
Pittsburgh -4 to +1 vs. Michigan State
Iowa -1 to +3 vs. Kentucky
Texas A&M -3.5 to -7 vs. Wake Forest
Fresno State -13.5 to -10.5 vs. UTEP
Minnesota -7 to -4 vs. West Virginia
The Western Michigan move is just one of several over the last few days since sportsbooks opened up their counters to take bets on the college football bowls.
Another big line move transpired on Wednesday morning when Pittsburgh Panthers star quarterback Kenny Pickett told “The Dan Patrick Show” that he was undecided as to whether he would play in the Peach Bowl against Michigan State. Obviously, a Heisman Trophy finalist is sure to cause a stir.
Pittsburgh was a three-point favorite at most shops during that appearance, and 90 minutes later some books were dealing Michigan State -1.
There was zero confirmation that Pickett won’t play, but that doesn’t matter to the wise guys.
Bettors with enough influence bet thousands of dollars on information and speculation at this time of year. Those bettors were more than happy to whack Michigan State from +3 to PK on the chance that Pickett doesn’t go — and honestly, why would he? Is it really worth it to risk a potential Top 10 NFL Draft slot (and millions of dollars) to play in the Peach Bowl?
Even you know better.
If you get your hands on good intel around this time of year, it’s imperative that you act fast. Because once it gets into the hands of the professionals, they’ll blow the game off the board.