Tuesday October 16
LAS VEGAS – The first BCS Poll of the college football season came out Sunday and was met with pretty much a “ho-hum” here in the sports books.
For one thing, it took place as the Packers-Texans game was kicking off to cap off an NFL Sunday that saw underdogs go 11-2 against the spread with eight outright upsets. Now, usually that would mean a huge day for the sports books as the public tends to load up on favorites, but in a way this was a case of “too many favorites.” That’s because the books end up having to pay out plus-money on the underdogs, which can add up (the best-case scenario is when the favorite win outright but don’t cover). Anyway, even though it was still a pretty good day for the books, they gave back a lot of profits as the Packers were a popular underdog and routed the Texans 42-24.
Back to college football (see how the NFL takes over priority here – I’m leading with it yet pro football talk still dominates), the poll yielded a pretty significant surprise for people that were paying attention. Alabama was the expected No. 1 team, but then Florida came out as No. 2 ahead of everyone’s expected No. 2 Oregon.
However, a glance at the BCS Championship Game future-book odds showed no change due to the new pecking order. Alabama is the 6-5 favorite at the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (formerly the Hilton) with Oregon the second choice at 7-2 and quite a significant drop-off to Florida at 8-1. Those are the same odds that were up last week and before the BCS Poll came out. Next on the list are LSU, USC, Oklahoma and South Carolina all at 12-1, with Kansas St. and Notre Dame at 15-1.
“The only real thing the BCS standings are good for are to see what it will take for a one loss team to make the game,” said the LVH’s Ed Salmons. “If you look at it like that, you can see LSU losing at Florida really didn't mean anything for LSU to make the BCS. If LSU were to win out -- I think this scenario is very unlikely -- they would be almost locked into the BCS game.”
That shows the power of the SEC, which has won the last six BCS titles and 8 of 14 overall.
Another way to look at the BCS title contenders from a Vegas point of view is with the Don Best Linemakers Poll. Alabama is again the No. 1 team and a 3-point favorite in the power ratings over No. 2 Oregon. That poll also has LSU at No. 5, two spots ahead of Florida. Undefeated Kansas St. and Notre Dame are No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, in the BCS Poll but are No. 11 and No. 9, respectively in the Don Best Linemakers Poll.
There’s still a lot of football to be played, but it’s clear the SEC 1-loss teams are deemed stronger and a better chance to get into the BCS title game – if they can get past Alabama somehow.
Back to the NFL, the 11-2 mark for underdogs in Week 6 (note: I grade the betting results using the ViewFromVegas.com Consensus Closing Lines that I post in the forums at my website, Monday night’s game between the Broncos and Chargers closed as a pick-em, (so it’s not included in these results) made dogs a pretty incredible 56-32-2 (63.6%) against the spread so far this season.
Home dogs went 4-0 straight-up and against the spread to improve to 21-11 ATS (65.6%), though a more impressive stat is that home dogs are 18-14 straight-up.
Those who have joined the Ugly Puppy Society (UPS), which was named here in this column way back before Week 3 (http://www.predictionmachine.com/NFL-Week-3-Lines-Value) have hopefully had a good run. The UPS includes not only NFL home underdogs but double-digit dogs, which saw the Raiders cover as a closing 10-point dog vs. the Falcons on Sunday. The only double-digit dog this week looks like the Jets +10.5 vs. the Patriots. The home puppies are the Rams +6 vs. the Packers, Panthers +2.5 vs. the Cowboys, Buccaneers +3 vs. the Saints, and the Bengals +2 vs. the Steelers.
In early wagers, we saw some line movement, but nothing too significant. The Bills, off their upset of the Cardinals, opened -3 against the Titans and were bet off the key number and up to 3.5. The Texans opened -5 over the Ravens at the LVH on Sunday afternoon before their loss to the Packers, but are now up to -6.5 partly due to the season-ending triceps injury to Baltimore leader Ray Lewis. The Saints opened as 2.5-point road favorites against the Buccaneers and have been bet up to the key number of 3. The Patriots were a 13.5-point favorite in advance wagering over the Jets but, after their loss in Seattle, that line is now down to 10.5.
Good luck this weekend (and every weekend).
Dave Tuley is an award-winning journalist who has covered the Las Vegas race & sports beat since 1998, first for the GamingToday newspaper in Vegas and has written for Daily Racing Form since 2000. Tuley started his own website, ViewFromVegas.com, in 2007 and has written for other websites, including ESPN.com. In 2006, he won "Best News Story" by the Professional Football Writers of America, the only time a gambling story has won a PFWA award. Tuley, 45, grew up in the Chicago suburbs and is married with children in Vegas. His roots can be seen in the names of his three children: daughters Jordyn and Peyton (named for Walter Payton, not Peyton Manning) and son Maddux. Dave can be followed on Twitter @ViewFromVegas.