The Week 9 slate of college football action sandwiched itself between two important events for bettors: Friday's court ruling temporarily preventing an Oceanport, N.J., casino from being the first book outside Nevada to offer parlay-free wagering on major American sporting events, and Tuesday's anticipated release of the first rankings from College Football Playoff's selection committee.
The former kept potentially thousands of gamblers from capitalizing on some significant values (45-point victors Wisconsin at -10? An 82-point scoring TCU team at -24? Check, please!) and, of course, from getting burned. 'Bad Bo' disinterred himself for an Ole Miss team that hadn't failed to cover all year, throwing an interception in the closing seconds when a Rebels touchdown would have covered for some and at least pushed the game for others.
The committee's rankings will give players, coaches and fans their first glimpse into the new postseason evaluation process, including a system of rankings which might compel some teams to play out the year more conservatively and others to rack up some line-busting style points (we're looking at you, Oregon and Baylor).
Whether you're looking to bounce back or continue your season-long string of ATS dominance, here's what you need to know about Week 10's opening lines.
No. 4 Auburn at No. 7 Ole Miss (-3)
Ole Miss opened both offshore and onshore Sunday afternoon as a field goal favorite, and this line stayed rigid through Monday morning. Auburn presents a regressing cover-master Gus Malzahn, who was 20-6 ATS in his first two head coaching seasons but 3-4 ATS in 2014. Ole Miss covered seven straight games to open the year and, until Saturday night in Baton Rouge, had proven measurably more Jekyll than Hyde.
The Tigers have won 15 of their last 17 games but are coming off of a seven-point, non-covering win against Steve Spurrier's schizophrenic Gamecocks. Curiously, six of the past seven games Auburn has played in Oxford, Miss., have exceeded the OVER, according to OddsShark.com. That could suggest a shootout Saturday; however, the game will feature a stingy Ole Miss defense far better than any the Tigers faced in that time span. The Rebels have hit the UNDER in seven of eight contests so far this season.
This game comes down to the trench battle between Auburn's offensive line and Mississippi's front seven, whether Ole Miss can bounce back after looking sluggish last weekend, and as always, which Bo Wallace shows up to play.
For a game of this magnitude, don't expect books to fade -3 and straddle the field goal line indefinitely. Auburn money isn't usually in short supply: Look for Wildcats bettors to push this line down to the -2.5 threshold critical for Rebels enthusiasts and then for a second wave of Ole Miss money to push the line back up.
No. 18 Utah at No. 15 Arizona State (-4.5)
Some books held off offering a line for this game altogether over questions surrounding the status of Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly as he heals from a foot injury. The Stratosphere was the first onshore book to take action on the game, opening up with Arizona State as 4.5-point favorites at home. Other Vegas books had yet to follow suit as of Monday morning.
Kelly returned to the field Saturday for the first time in three weeks in an ugly game against Washington that was played in even uglier weather. Although he was hit hard on a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, there hasn't been any official indication bettors should expect him out against Utah. That said, sometimes Vegas' information on these things seems even better than the coaches'.
Utah is coming off another run-of-the-mill, late-night, last-second come-from-behind victory in the Pac-12. More importantly, it is a fantastic 6-1 ATS this season.
The Utes' formidable defense will face a strong test on the road against a balanced Sun Devils attack. If Kelly is out, super-sub Mike Bercovici -- who recently orchestrated a come-from-behind-win against USC of his own -- would likely take his place.
The central question therein is how much trust bettors have in Bercovici. Those that do trust him might wait: If Kelly is listed as out, bettors will surely be able to get Arizona State more cheaply than -4.5.&
No. 2 Florida State at Louisville (+7)
Two thoughts immediately jump out here: Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is 39-18 ATS at home in his career, and the Cardinals specialize in making ACC games low-scoring slugfests. The Seminoles are likely to attack Louisville through the air as the Cardinals are the best team against the run in the country. Louisville could be hard-pressed to find any offense at all.
The second-ranked Seminoles only laying seven points to Louisville feels like Vegas is practically begging people to wager on Florida State. Sure enough, 62 percent of the action on the game so far is on the Seminoles at -7, according to OddsShark.com.
Interestingly, there has been some correction to date against Florida State-mania: When the Golden Nugget announced its games of the year earlier this summer, Florida State was listed as a -17-point favorite. The market's correction is justified. Florida State has failed to cover in all but one game this season, and that was during Week 6 when it barely covered against an abysmal Wake Forest team.
This has no bearing on whether Florida State is an incredible team. Rather, it has a huge bearing on the public's perception of Florida State in relation to other teams. Don't be surprised if sharp money comes in on Louisville on Wednesday and Thursday, especially if the line pushes to seven-and-a-half or eight. While the Seminoles are likely to win this Thursday night matchup, spread betting is a different animal than straight-up betting. Be very, very careful here.
No. 10 TCU at No. 20 West Virginia (+5)
Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs put up 82 points against a Texas Tech team they were favored to beat by three touchdowns and change. They won by 55. Nothing could be more emblematic of TCU's season. The Horned Frogs are the only FBS program that has covered in every game it's played this season.
The line on Saturday's game against West Virginia adjusted slightly Sunday night to reflect this but certainly not as much as other Sunday night lines have shifted over the course of the season. TCU opened offshore and at the Wynn as four-point favorites, lines which corrected to five and 4.5 points respectively. The Stratosphere jumped the trend and put the margin at five.
While West Virginia is certainly winning more recently, that winning hasn't necessarily translated into covering. Dana Holgorsen had the worst ATS record of any FBS head coach with at least two seasons under his belt coming in to 2014, according to The Linemakers at SportingNews.com. This year, he is 5-3, although the Mountaineers failed to cover in the three games before their recent wins against Baylor and Oklahoma State.
TCU makes a compelling case for bettors to not even think about it and lay the points, until you consider this point: West Virginia has squeezed in the second-most plays of any team in the entire FBS. That TCU defense that's supposed to be so good at stopping up-tempo offenses has given up a lot of yards through the air against similar teams. In fact, the last time TCU played a top-ten passing team like West Virginia on the road, the Horned Frogs gave up 61 points and 510 yards through the air as they lost to Baylor.
No. 14 Arizona at No. 25 UCLA (-4.5)
A UCLA team that required double overtime to defeat a woeful Colorado Buffaloes squad is favored by more than a field goal at home on Saturday against an offense that has racked up the third-most yards per game and tenth-most points per game of any Power Five team.
Arizona has outright won seven of its last eight games, which should always raise a flag when that team is a dog. Making matters worse for Bruins fans: UCLA has the worst record ATS of any team in the FBS at 1-7.
The line opened at -4.5 but bounced all around Sunday afternoon giving Arizona even more points -- as many as 6.5 -- before settling back at the original number.
Rich Rodriguez's Arizona squads have had their fair share of ATS struggles and are 9-13 versus the spread in Pac-12 games. But unless the Bruins team that dispatched a beaten up Arizona State by 35 points shows up, it is hard to envision a scenario in which Anu Solomon and Arizona don't gain yards through the air and put up a lot of points. While oddsmakers are putting a lot of weight on the game being in Pasadena, location hasn't mattered to UCLA covering.
The value in this line shouldn't last long: 69 percent of wagers at 5Dimes have predictably come in on the Wildcats, according to OddsShark.com.
ATS records are provided by SportingNews.com and VegasInsider.com. Wagering percentages are applicable to 5Dimes Casino and provided by OddsShark.com