One of the main indicators of sharp money in sports betting is reverse line movement. If the public is loading up on one side of a spread and the line moves in the opposite direction, it usually means the wise guys are on the other side. Of course, wise guys lose bets all the time so it's not worth a huge overreaction if you trust your handicap. But one game on Saturday's college football slate has seen some significant reverse line movement, and it's intriguing to say the least.
Bettors love Oklahoma, but market is moving the other way
Oklahoma opened the week as a 14.5-point favorite on the road in Lincoln against Nebraska. After Nebraska fired Scott Frost over the weekend, the betting market started taking off. Currently, Nebraska is just an 11-point underdog at BetMGM.
What's interesting is that as of Friday morning, Oklahoma is the most popular bet of any side on Saturday's college football slate. No team has received more bets backing them than the Sooners. Overall, 76% of bets and 64% of handle is backing Oklahoma to cover as the favorite. Usually when we see one-sided action, the line will move in favor of the team getting the bets, not against them.
The love for Oklahoma makes sense. They're ranked 6th in the AP poll and have outscored UTEP and Kent State by a combined score of 78-16 in the first two weeks of the season. On the other side, Nebraska has already lost twice this season as a double-digit favorite. However, there was hope for Nebraska entering the season and maybe the coaching change makes an impact. It's also a rivalry game. The line movement is too suspect to totally ignore.
Michigan State is a popular underdog
In college basketball, an unranked team favored at home against a ranked team is a very popular betting angle. While it's not as pronounced in college football, it certainly raises the antenna.
Washington is currently a 3-point home favorite against No. 11 Michigan State, and unsurprisingly, bettors are all over the road underdog. Michigan State is the second most popular bet of the slate in terms of both total bets and total betting handle. Overall, 80% of bets and 81% of the money is on the Spartans. Despite that, the line has moved to three after opening at 2.5-points.
Both teams enter with a 2-0 record. The Spartans have outscored Western Michigan and Akron by a combined score of 87-13 while the Huskies have beaten Kent State and Portland State by a combined score of 97-26.
Michigan State was a popular and profitable bet last season, as analytics and the betting market weren't sold on them despite their successful 11-2 record. Will that type of trend continue into 2022?
The USC hype train is leaving the station
USC's offense has met and even surpassed all preseason expectations. They rank top-5 in both points scored and yards-per-play through two weeks. Caleb Williams has the second best odds to win the Heisman currently. Jordan Addison and Mario Williams might be the best receiving duo in college football. Lincoln Riley has long been considered an offensive genius after developing the likes of Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray at Oklahoma.
It seems like the hype for USC is strong. The Trojans are a 12.5-point home favorite against Fresno State and bettors are lining up to lay the points with USC. Overall, 69% of bets and 68% of the money is on USC to cover the spread as a favorite. The Trojans are the third most popular bet of any team on Saturday's schedule.
Fresno State pulled off a road Pac-12 upset last year when they beat UCLA in a wild game. They have an experienced quarterback in Jake Haener, who is in his sixth year of college football. USC has forced turnovers, but they've also given up yards. Defense was always going to be the concern with the Trojans. Those concerns aren't enough to keep bettors off of them on Saturday though.
Other popular bets
What are some other schools receiving a vast majority of the betting action ahead of Saturday's games?
BYU is a 3.5-point road underdog against Oregon, and bettors like the underdog. At BetMGM, 71% of the bets are on BYU.
Georgia is a 24.5-point favorite against South Carolina, but the big number isn't scaring off bettors. Currently, 77% of bets and 82% of the money is on the Bulldogs.
Ole Miss is another popular favorite. 84% of the money is on Ole Miss as a 16.5-point favorite against Georgia Tech.