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Week 2 of NFL football leaves sports books close to perfect play

September 13, 2011 3:00 AM by Micah Roberts

For the second straight week of college football action, the sports books got the type of favorite/underdog ratio results they love as the favorites went 23-21-1.

Like last week, it was the public favorites grouped into parlays that kept the sports books from having a good day.

Big favorites like Wisconsin (-20½), Alabama (-10), Oregon (-27) and most of all, Stanford (-21), led the way as the most popular public plays. All came in easily. In each of those cases, the line didn’t move much as they respected the straight bets with disregard for the parlay action.

"We always seem to get beat or break even in the first couple weeks of college football with all the large favorites against the sacrificial lambs," said Coast Resorts race and sports director Bob Scucci. "It hasn’t mattered how high we make some of these teams, because the public still bets them and they all seem to cover."

Conventional bookmaking wisdom tells the bookmaker to move numbers based solely on straight bets allowing parlay and teaser risk to fall as they may. They can only control what happens based on money that is bet on each individual team. When a result comes in, it’s posted and the parlay risk moves on to the other games.

If the sports book moves a game too high, then the Sharps will jump in and feed off the gift spreads like chum to sharks, something the books don‘t want to do considering their high win percentage.

No game was more apparent of the respect sports book have for the Sharps than Stanford-Duke where action might have warranted moves up to -22 or -23. Each time they attempted to move up because of overwhelming public play, the sharks started circling and chomped on the number pushing it back to -20½ or -21. Despite the Sharps play, the game was overloaded with small public money.

"I couldn’t believe the action on the Stanford game, it was the largest of the day," said Scucci. "Every time I moved past 21, we’d get a bet immediately sending me back. Stanford was by far the most popular side of the day."

Most other books also reported this game as having the largest handle of the day with certainly the most parlays attached on Stanford. Chances are if you asked to see anyone’s parlay ticket Stanford would have appeared.

That game alone was the gateway to success for many in the betting public. Although it appeared Duke would play tough after watching the first 28 minutes where Stanford only led 10-7. Ultimately the Cardinal closed it out, 44-17.

When a team wins big for the public, they don’t stop playing them. That means this week’s game at Arizona where Stanford is favored by a mere 10 should be equally as popular a play.
A game the sports books moved rapidly because of public play on both straight bets and parlays that Sharps wanted no part of was Minnesota. It moved from -18½ to -22½ with no resistance by kickoff. New Mexico State, one of the worst teams in college football, won outright 28-21.

In the beginning, it looked like Saturday was shaping up to be a big day for the sports books when the favorites went 2-7 in the early games with Ohio State (-17) not covering. The tide quickly turned the public’s way in the afternoon.

Had it not been for the Michigan‘s fantastic come back or UCLA not covering its large 21-point spread in the late games, it would have been a disastrous day.

At the end of the day, it was either break even or a small loss for the sports books.

The popular public choices this week will be Boise State (-18), Wisconsin (-16), Texas A&M (-36), TCU (-28), Alabama (-45) and of course Stanford. The books will be hoping to beat at least two of those.

Most of all, hoping Arizona plays a great game at home.

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