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Before you make your college football bets this weekend, it's worth knowing which side other bettors are backing, especially on games drawing sharp action.
We talked to Jay Rood, Bet.Works' chief risk officer and theScore Bet's head trader, to see how sharps and public bettors are playing the championship week slate.
All lines courtesy of theScore Bet.
The Pac-12 championship game is a day ahead of the rest of the action, but it's following a similar script to the Saturday slate: bettors are laying points with the favorite and taking the moneyline with the 'dog.
Utah is seeing a 3-to-1 advantage in money as a 6.5-point favorite with an average bet size more than three times as high on the spread, suggesting sharper bettors are on the Utes. Conversely, the Ducks are drawing nearly all of the moneyline play at +200 with a 7-to-1 ticket-count advantage over Utah (-240).
"This is being bet like any championship game gets bet," Rood said. "We're going to need a win and no cover."
The under is also shaping up to be a significant liability with rain expected in Friday's forecast. The total opened at 50.5 before dropping to 48.5, then 47, and now 46 less than an hour before kickoff.
Surprise, surprise: bettors like the Buckeyes in the Big Ten title game.
Ohio State saw all of the action at -16, and it's drawing nearly all activity at -16.5, too, according to Rood. Four times as many bets on straight side action are on the undefeated Buckeyes, and 10 times as many parlay tickets are on the favorites.
"It's all Ohio State at this point," Rood said. "We're going to need the Badgers to show up really close."
While a couple of bets have come in on Wisconsin +550, they weren't sharp. The over has also seen some small play, pushing the total from 54.5 to 56. Wisconsin has gone over in four straight games, while Ohio State is 3-1 to the over in its last four and has scored at least 56 points in those three overs.
As of Thursday, it looked like the SEC title game might be the one outlier in championship weekend. Bettors were lining up to bet the Bulldogs, who have covered four of their last five and are catching 7.5 points in nearby Atlanta.
When the line dipped to LSU -7, money came rushing in on the favorite, pushing the overall money to a 5-to-1 advantage for the Tigers. The parlay play is also almost exclusively on LSU, which reveals the public preference as much as the 4-to-1 edge in straight-bet ticket count.
Even though sharps gobbled up Georgia +7.5 before the adjustment, the line returned to that number on Friday just to curtail the flood of LSU money. Rood believes that with a game like this, having liability on the 'dog might be safer than hoping for the second-ranked Tigers to stumble.
"This is one of those games where if you don't take a strong opinion, you can get burned," Rood said.
Like the other games on the slate, the favored Sooners are currently positioned as the bettors' choice heading into the weekend. That could change soon based on early indicators.
While roughly 70% of the money is on Oklahoma as of Friday afternoon, the ticket count is 2-to-1 in favor of Baylor, which is also drawing more money and tickets in parlay activity. Rood says the biggest driver of the book's pro-Oklahoma lean is a pair of big-money bets that came early on the favorites, and he thinks the line could even shorten from -9.
"This game will probably overcome those two bets, and it could be pretty well-balanced by kickoff," Rood said.
The same can't be said for the total, which has been bumped up from 62 early in the week to 65 as of Friday afternoon. More movement is possible given the barrage of over money.
Rood said Friday that his book had taken $0 on the under in straight bets and parlays were also riding the over wave.
"Right now we need Baylor and under," Rood said. "By game time, I think we'll have drawn enough money to close that gap."
This line isn't unprecedented for championship week - Clemson was a 27.5-point favorite in last year's ACC title game against Pittsburgh - but it certainly caught the attention of early sharp bettors, who grabbed the Cavaliers at +29.
Since then, it's been mostly Clemson money, with the reigning ACC champs getting three times as much dough at -28 and twice as much action in parlays. The Tigers were nudged up to -28.5 on Friday afternoon to coax some more Virginia bets on the line, but it could be a hard sell given Clemson's dominant play amid a 6-1 ATS run.
A safer way to bet Clemson might be the over. The total has moved from 54.5 to 56.5, with bettors expecting an explosive showing from the Tigers' offense and enough from Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins to entertain viewers.
"We're going to need this game to stay under," Rood said. "It looks like we're going to need most of these games to stay under."
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.