By Micah Roberts
I’ll begin with the Auburn fiasco where Las Vegas sports books took the game off the board on Monday after news of something brewing. With a player on the brink of being suspended like Cam Newton, any wiggle of a rumor will take the game down. No credible news agency released what was going on, and many thought that the game was being taken down was because of South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia having a sore arm, which he does, but that wasn’t the reason for the game being taken off the board.
Auburn and the NCAA worked out some sort of deal to make them both look proactive when Auburn suspended Newton, without a press release, for his father’s role in attempting to securing personal funds for himself. Because Newton had said he had no knowledge of the events, he was cleared, and the NCAA ruled him eligible. It was kind of quick response by both parties and as for the NCAA, their decision was kind of unprecedented.
Now what we have is the NCAA allowing a parent to secure secret deals for their sons who are athletes, without any repercussions, as long as the player doesn’t admit he knew anything about it. And why wouldn’t they not believe Newton, because being caught cheating numerous times in academics and stealing someone’s laptop while at Florida are all things of the past. Since he didn’t actually get caught by physical evidence like he did then, that means he’s telling the truth now, right?
From a betting standpoint, Auburn opened as 5-point favorites on Monday against South Carolina in the SEC Championship game, then dropped to -4 ½ when a few bets snuck in amid the rumors and then was taken off the board. The game reopened at -5 and currently rests at -5 ½. It’ll be interesting to see how this game plays out, but I’m not sure I can make a case for the Gamecocks. Let’s be real, Newton has some pretty powerful friends supporting him and the Auburn program who have rewrote a section of the NCAA rule book.
In the other big games, Florida State and Oklahoma money have come in since Monday. The Sooners opened 4 ½-point favorites in the Big 12 Championship game against Nebraska, where the Huskers may use two quarterbacks throughout the game. Currently, Oklahoma is a 6-point favorite. Virginia Tech opened as 4 ½-point favorites against Florida State in the ACC Championship game, but have been bet against, dropping the line to -4.
There are four other major line moves of a point-and-a-half or more this week from the opening number. Boise State and Nevada are both being bet against in a possible let down spot for them after last week’s emotional game. The Broncos opened 39 ½-point favorites at home against Utah State and are currently at -37 ½. The Wolf Pack opened as 10 ½-point road favorites at Louisiana Tech and are now -9.
USC opened the week as 7-point favorite at the Rose Bowl against cross town rival UCLA, but has been bet down to -5 ½. Florida International opened as 6-point favorites at home to Middle Tennessee State and has been bet against to -4 ½.
This is about the time of year where we can start paying closer attention to the weather which will have a huge impact on the pace of games. We also a a few injuries to take note of this week beginning with the Vikings at home against the Bills. Although Adrian Peterson may not play, you still have to like their chances against the leagues worst rush defense. Toby Gerhart should be able to plow through the Bills defense in the same pounding fashion we have seen Peyton Hillis do this year. The Vikings opened a 6 ½-point favorite and are down to -5 ½.
The Bears are a hot topic after beating the Eagles last week and they have shot up from a small 3 ½-point favorite to -4 ½ for their match at Detroit. Even though the Bears have been pretty consistent defensively, they still have to be considered one of the worse teams with a winning record. However, the Lions are one of the worst teams, period.
Along the same lines, the Cardinals looked much worse than we thought they would Monday night. They were only 3 ½-point home underdogs to the Rams, but after Monday’s game, the line was readjusted to Rams - 4 ½.. The week 16 matchup between the 49ers and Rams looks to be the game that will decide the weak NFC west division.
As for the two games of the week, not a lot of movement. The Ravens are -3 (EV) at home against the Steelers and the Patriots are a -3 ½-point favorite at home against the Jets. The best thing about these two games is that you can make a case for all four sides, which makes it tough to bet. Because these are huge games on isolated instances, the action will be strong, but the house holds the edge just because of so many split opinions where the books can juice out a win with equal action.