BOZICH | National buzz flips Louisville to the favorite over Clemson
Clemson opened as a 2 1/2 point favorite for Louisville's trip to Death Valley Saturday. That's not the way the betting public sees the game two days later.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Point spreads were not designed to predict the outcome of college football games. They were created to reflect the sentiment of the betting population on the outcome of a game.
The perfect point spread attracts half the total dollars wagered on each team.
When Las Vegas posted the initial line for Louisville's trip to Clemson Saturday, the home team was listed as the favorite 2 1/2 points at the Wynn Hotel. The Tigers were actually favored by 3 at VegasInsiders.com.
Check that. American strongly and quickly disagreed.
The line at the Wynn shriveled to merely 2 points in 11 minutes. It moved down to 1 1/2 points shortly after midnight and was pick 'em Monday afternoon.
The betting public continued to see more value in taking Bobby Petrino's undefeated team.
I checked the Wynn number Tuesday morning. If you waited until Tuesday morning (10:51) to back Louisville (for entertainment purposes only), you must give 2 points.
"Right now Louisville is a very public team so when it was a 'dog Sunday night, the majority of gamblers jumped on the Cardinals, prompting the line movement," said Brian Edwards, a senior handicapper at VegasInsiders.com.
That's a 4 1/2 -point swing, a considerable move for a game matching two of the top five teams in the nation, especially when sentiment is shifting against the also unbeaten home team. America has been more impressed by Louisville's crackling 4-0 start (with the blowout of Florida State) than Clemson's wins against Auburn, Troy, South Carolina State and Georgia Tech. Bobby Petrino's team has the attention of college football.
Clemson, for the record, has not been an underdog at home since the Tigers' game with the Florida State team that won the 2013 BCS title.
If you think this will be a one- or two-point game, the shift in the betting line also created an opportunity to cash in on both teams.
If you took Louisville and the 2 1/2 points Sunday and then bet Clemson and got the 2 points today, you would win regardless of the outcome if the Cardinals won by a single point.
In an e-mail, Edwards said he had a different take on the move in the point spread.
"It is (a big move) but it isn't a substantial shift. When you're dealing with a number of three or fewer, I don't view those shifts as significant.
"Yes, if you took Louisville +3 or +2.5 on Sunday, you can hedge and now take Clemson +2 and potentially hit both. I say it's not as significant because a four-point shift matters much more when you're jumping over a key number (7,10,14,17, 21, etc.).
"For example, if Team A was a 6.5-point underdog and then became a 10.5-point underdog, that's huge. But to go from +2.5 to -2, it just doesn't mean as much because the chances of one team winning by one or two points is less likely than a team winning by a margin between 7 and 10.
"So to me, the handicap of the Louisville-Clemson game (assuming it stays at -2.5 or fewer either way -- it could still move back to pick 'em or Clemson as the short favorite) comes down to who you like to win the game. Nobody is going to take Clemson +2 unless they are confident Clemson is going to win outright."
Edwards also shared these numbers from Las Vegas (you can follow Edwards on Twitter @vegasbedwards):
Odds to win the Atlantic Coast Conference:
Clemson +130 (risk $100 to win $130).
Louisville +135 (risk $100 to win $135).
FSU +450 (risk $100 to win $450).
Odds to win College Football Playoff:
Ohio St. 4/1.
Louisville +550 (risk $100 to win $550).
Odds to win Heisman:
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson -300 (risk $300 to win $100).
Stanford halfback Christian McCaffrey 8/1.
Wrote Edwards: "I know most spots had Jackson with 100/1 odds in August."
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