By Patrick Everson
FOX Sports Gambling Writer
College football betting got what I’d call a soft launch a few days ago for Week 0. A handful of games, none really juicy, save for possibly Nebraska-Northwestern playing across the pond in Dublin, Ireland. But now it’s time for full liftoff!
The hefty Week 1 schedule includes all the big schools that will dominate college football odds conversations all season long.
In talking with several oddsmakers, the following are a touchdown’s worth of intriguing college football betting nuggets for the 2022-23 season.
The Heavy Weight of Ohio State
Yes, Alabama is once again the favorite in the College Football Playoff championship odds market. And, of course, defending national champion Georgia is high up on the betting boards, too, as the consensus third choice.
But between those two lies a big trouble spot for BetMGM: The Ohio State University.
Many months ago, Ohio State opened +600. The Buckeyes took a $10,000 bet at that price, with that customer looking at a potential payout of $60,000. And although 6-1 odds aren’t a long shot, that bettor got good value compared with where Ohio State stands now.
The Buckeyes enter Week 1 at +320 to win the national championship. That trails only Alabama’s +190 price and puts Ohio State just ahead of Georgia (+350) at BetMGM.
Further, the Buckeyes are tied with Alabama for the most national championship tickets, and Ohio State has drawn the second-most money, barely trailing ‘Bama. Ohio State is now BetMGM’s largest liability.
Oh, and star quarterback C.J. Stroud is getting big play in the Heisman Trophy odds market, too.
“C.J. Stroud for the Heisman and Ohio State to win the national championship is the current nightmare result for BetMGM,” said Jason Scott, vice president of trading for BetMGM.
That said, Scott and his risk team are OK with the championship liability. Needing the SEC is not a bad thing when it comes to college football championship futures, you know!
“We are happy to be with the SEC schools come January, and we are content with a large negative number against the Buckeyes,” Scott said.
Oh Say Can USC
Southern Cal has seen a resurgence in betting interest. And that has multiple sportsbooks — PointsBet USA, BetMGM, The SuperBook and more — sweating it out in the college football championship odds market.
“USC is a team seeing a ton of public action in the futures market,” SuperBook senior risk supervisor Casey Degnon said. “We opened the Trojans at 30/1 in January and are now at 25/1, with a lot of liability. USC brings in new head coach Lincoln Riley and a ton of transfers, so I can understand the public love for the Trojans.
“It’s safe to say we will not be rooting for USC to make it to the College Football Playoff.”
At BetMGM, one customer got in relatively early with a $2,000 bet on USC +3500. That represents a potential $70,000 win, should the Trojans have a banner season. USC’s current odds at BetMGM: +2000.
Vandy’s Dandy Start
Vanderbilt is typically an afterthought yearly, and the results generally prove why. Expectations aren’t high for the Commodores this season either. Most sportsbooks have set Vandy’s win total at 2 or 2.5.
But playing — and winning big — in Week 0 makes it far more likely that Vanderbilt gets there. The Commodores went to Hawaii and pounded the Rainbow Warriors 63-10. In Week 2, Vandy returns home Saturday to face FCS opponent Elon, and the Commodores are 20-point favorites at WynnBet — which just so happened to have Vanderbilt’s season win total at a tidy 2.
WynnBet reported that one customer in the sportsbook operator’s Tennessee market put $4,000 on Vanderbilt Over 2 Wins at -150. By this weekend, that customer is practically guaranteed a push which means the bet can’t lose. Worst-case scenario, the bettor gets the $4,000 back. Unless, of course, Vandy pulls a Vandy.
But provided the Commodores do what’s expected, all that bettor will need is for Vanderbilt to go 1-9 in its last 10 games. That’ll bring a nice profit of $2,666.67.
Oh Say Can You ACC
Clemson is the solid favorite in odds to win the ACC championship. No surprise there, for a team that regularly makes reservations in the College Football Playoff, last season notwithstanding.
The Tigers are -120 at The SuperBook, with Miami a distant second at +500, then North Carolina State at +650. But there’s been some surprising action in the ACC market.
“Louisville has almost double the money wagered on it to win the ACC than any other team,” Degnon said. “We opened the Cardinals at +6000, and since then, our odds have been cut in half to +3000. It’s a little surprising to me, given the fact that Clemson and Miami are usually the popular teams among the public.”
Louisville is still well back of the favorites, though, as the ACC’s co-sixth choice with Florida State.
Grin and Bear It
Baylor had a solid 2021-22 campaign, going 10-2 in the regular season, then beating Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title game. Some observers believed the Bears deserved consideration for the College Football Playoff, despite two losses. Baylor had to settle for a bid to the Sugar Bowl, where it topped Mississippi 21-7.
This season, oddsmakers expect Baylor to back up. But bettors remain bullish on the Bears, at least in one betting market.
“One win total that has seen one-way traffic is the Baylor Bears Over,” Degnon said. “We opened them at 7.5 (Over -130) in July, and now, we are at 8 (Over +100). That will be one of our bigger decisions [in the win total market], so we hope Baylor sees some regression from their impressive 2021 campaign.”
Bucks on the Ducks
In Week 1, on Saturday afternoon, No. 11 Oregon faces defending national champion and third-ranked Georgia. At least the Ducks won’t have to play between the hedges on the Bulldogs’ home field in Athens, Ga. However, the so-called neutral site isn’t much better: Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
That’s only about 90 minutes from Georgia’s campus. But Oregon — a 17-point underdog at The SuperBook — is getting some takers, and not just on the point spread.
“We recently took a five-figure bet on Oregon moneyline at +600, which puts us in a position to need the Dawgs outright,” Degnon said. “Georgia is tied to a bunch of parlays, but there are more straight bets on the Ducks to cover the spread.”
A Little Luck
Currently, The SuperBook could also use some Week 1 luck from the Irish. Fifth-ranked Notre Dame opens its season Saturday night in very hostile territory, in the Horseshoe against No. 2 Ohio State. And Notre Dame is a hefty 17-point road underdog.
“As we stand right now,” Degnon said Thursday, “we are going to need the Fighting Irish to cover the number. More tickets and more money wagered on Ohio State so far. But the weekend is young, and I’m sure we’ll see some public support for Notre Dame at some point.”
Other Notable Nuggets
It’s always interesting to see some of the flier bets that land at sportsbooks around the country. Here are a few such wagers taken at BetMGM:
- $500 on North Carolina State to win the national title, at 150-1 odds. That ticket is probably little more than a drink coaster, with virtually no chance of paying off. But if it somehow does, the win would be $75,000.
- $100 on UTEP — yes, UTEP — to win the national title, at 1000-1 odds. Would win $100,000, in an alternate universe.
- $650 on Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara to win the Heisman Trophy, at 200-1 odds. Winning wager would net $130,000
- A couple of SEC championship odds fliers: $1,000 on Ole Miss +6600, to win $66,000; and $1,000 on Tennessee +5000, to win $50,000.
Finally, a very faithful Kansas bettor dropped $10,000 on the Jayhawks Over 2.5 wins, at -135. A win would net about $7,400.
Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He previously worked for Covers and is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He’s based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.
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