Published September 11, 2012 - 8:08pm
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This week has seen a good bit of movement in the spreads that Vegas set on Saturday’s upcoming crop of SEC games.
A moving line means that early betters are disagreeing with where Vegas originally set the lines to start the week. A well set and unchanging line means the betting public is evenly torn on which side to take.
Remember, Vegas’ objective is to create an even split in the betting public to cancel out the winnings and earn a return on the “juice”. This is why they move the line when one side is being bet harder than the other. They move the line to re-establish an even distribution of incoming bets.
A number of factors can contribute to the betting public going hard on one team versus the other. Injuries or a lack of clarity on key injuries can be a major factor. Moreover, talent mismatches can create movement; i.e. when a team plays a cupcake game and the public has a wide variation of how bad the weaker team will get beat.
Let’s look at some of the big SEC games this week and what sort of action we’ve seen in their respective spreads.
Opened at -13; Currently at Alabama (-21.5)
This one is all about injuries. Tyler Wilson’s reported concussion from last week’s game against ULM is the biggest factor here. The bet was taken off the board at most sportsbooks early in the week and came back out around 19. It’s moved quickly up from there to 21.5, and I think it goes much higher.
Wilson is still listed as questionable. I think there’s less than 10% chance that Tyler Wilson plays against Alabama. If and when this is announced, the spread will widen further.
Moreover, the public is torn on just how good Arkansas is. Was last week’s disastrous upset against ULM a fluke or a sign of significant weaknesses on Arkansas with or without their quarterback?
Opened at -13; Currently at Miss State (-16.5)
Mississippi State was extremely impressive last week; however, at home against a potentially very weak Auburn team doesn’t help us understand just how good the Bulldogs are or aren’t. Moreover, while the score was great, key statistics like third down conversion were atrocious.
I think Mississippi State covers this week. A big reason being that there’s no game to look ahead to causing the team to overlook Troy. Mississippi State has South Alabama next week and then Kentucky the following week.
Opened as a pk; Currently at Tennessee (-3)
A huge game for both teams, Florida does have some potential injuries. Even more than the injuries, the public is unsure of which team to buy into. Florida’s been mediocre at best for a couple years and finally showed a glimpse that they might be on the rebound in the second half at College Station last week.
Tennessee has been impressive this year, but they were just as impressive early on in 2011.
The early money has been on Tennessee which has driven the line 3 points in favor of the Vols. The home atmosphere, a few injuries for the Gators, and perhaps a few more offensive superstars has the early money going towards Tennessee.
If the line heads higher, it might be worth taking the Gators as I expect a close game in Knoxville.
Opened at -13.5; Currently at Texas (-10.5)
This is a spread that nobody has any idea what to do about. The early money has actually been coming in in favor of the Rebs at home against the visiting Longhorns. Vegas set the line at -13.5 for Texas and it’s come down to -10.5.
QB Bo Wallace has Ole Miss fans excited, but home games against Central Arkansas and UTEP aren’t exactly elite competition. Texas has had a couple cupcakes as well.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see this line creep back up in favor of Texas as we get closer to kickoff. Although 8:15pm kickoff gives the home fans a full day of drinking in the Grove so it might not be a good idea to bet against Ole Miss.