College Football Betting: Early Line Moves Create Dog Value In Future Bowl Games

Teddy Covers

Monday, December 14, 2015 7:41 PM GMT

We look at two significant line movers since the pointspreads were posted last week, focusing specifically on the games this Saturday. Find out where the value is in recent college football odds.

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Bowl season kicks off in earnest on Saturday, with five games opening what promises to be a wild two week stretch, with 40 bowls scheduled between Saturday, December 19th and Saturday, January 2nd. Then we’ll have a full eight days without college football before the National Championship Game on Monday, January 11th. 

 

New Mexico Bowl: Arizona vs. New Mexico

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The markets have found value with New Mexico as a big underdog against Arizona, driving the spread down from an opener as high as -12 (at Pinny) or -11.5 (at the Wynn in Las Vegas) to the current number of -9.5. There’s been both pro-Lobos sentiment and anti-Wildcats sentiment driving the early sharp money here.

Let’s start with the anti-‘Zona rationale. Bowl teams get 15 extra practices – three full weeks – to prepare for their opponent. But in the early bowl games, teams don’t get that full prep time. That’s particularly meaningful when facing an unconventional offense, like that of the Lobos, who run a quirky triple option attack. Arizona limped to the finish line, losing four of their last five regular season games, while allowing 200+ rushing yards in each of their last four contests. Without the full allotment of pre-bowl practices, the Wildcats may not be fully prepared to stop New Mexico’s offense.

Meanwhile, the Lobos played their best football of the entire Bob Davie era down the stretch in November, notching wins and covers against bowl bound foes Utah State, Boise State and Air Force. It’s surely worth noting that the Lobos were +20.5 against the Aggies, +31 against the Broncos (the single biggest underdog to win outright in all of college football this year, excepting games against FCS foes) and +11 against the Falcons.  

And this isn’t a virtual home game for New Mexico – it’s a real home game, played on their normal field.  Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez, apparently staying put after his name was bandied about for numerous other head coaching gigs: “With New Mexico, it’s their area, being from here and being in their home town.  They don’t have to adjust to anything.”

 

Cure Bowl: San Jose State vs. Georgia State 

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The Lobos aren’t the only underdog on Saturday that has taken sharp money off the openers. Georgia State played out of their minds in November, winning their last four games to earn their first ever bowl berth when they face San Jose State in the Cure Bowl in Orlando.  

Let’s not forget how far down the Panthers were a month ago. This was a team that went 1-23 SU in 2013 and 2014 combined. Last year, they were outgained by more than 150 yard per games against Sun Belt foes. And they stated 2-6 this year, the only wins coming at New Mexico State and at Ball State, both of whom finished with 3-9 records.

But a funny thing happened on the way to another last place finish – Trent Miles’ team started to win. The situation was very similar to his tenure at Indiana State, when his teams won just one game in his first two years on the job, then won at least six games in each of the next three years. The biggest win of the bunch came in their season finale at Georgia Southern, when, as three TD underdogs, the Panthers won SU by four touchdowns!

No surprise, then, that Georgia State has been taking money. CRIS and Pinny both opened San Jose as a five point favorite, but that number has been bet down to the current spread of Spartans -3 and indicators are it could go even lower.

Ron Caragher’s Spartans were the only non-Power 5 conference team with a losing record to make a bowl game, leading to plenty of negative comments from the pundits on TV. And 5-7 San Jose was the antithesis of Georgia State when it comes to momentum, losing three of their last four, the lone win coming against hapless Hawaii.

But San Jose has the best RB in the country that you probably haven’t seen or heard about in Tyler Ervin. Ervin is a little guy, listed at 5-10, 177, and he got banged up down the stretch. Still, I watched him run for 160 at Auburn, carving up the Tigers defense on the heels of his 300 yard game against Fresno the previous week. Don’t’ be shocked if Caragher uses some of the negativity as ‘bulletin board’ material to fire up his squad, and Irvin is capable of a big game against this level of defensive competition.