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The Golden Nugget sportsbook in downtown Las Vegas posted spreads Thursday for college football’s games of the year almost a full three months before Miami and Florida (-7.5) kickoff the season Aug. 24 in Orlando. There’s something for everybody to chew on over the summer, 100 of the best games in all.   

“They bet Nebraska pretty good in a couple of their games and also bet against LSU in a few, but I kind of expected that based on the numbers we posted,” said Golden Nugget book director Aaron Kessler. “I like LSU and I’m down a bit on Nebraska.”

LSU opened up 9.5-point home favorites against Auburn for the Oct. 26 meeting and it was bet down to -6.5. 

“One of those games they bet on was Nebraska against Ohio State,” Kessler said.

They opened Ohio State as a 10-point road favorite at Nebraska for the Sept. 28 meeting and bettors ran the number down to -7 with Huskers money.

No big deal, just a couple of early 3-point college football moves in May. Limits were set conservatively at $1,000, but they let the process take care of itself and didn’t overreact or over adjust to any particular game with double moves on a bet. They trusted that process and trusted their numbers.  

The braintrust of setting ratings and numbers for each team this early is Kessler, Nugget executive director Tony Miller and the Gold Sheet’s Bruce Marshall who merged their opinions into one final team rating.  

“Yep, it’s the same crew,” Kessler said. “This is our 12th year doing it together, but we took last year off.”

Surprisingly, the most active game, or one-way landslide, was the last game of the regular season between two squads that aren’t considered elite programs.

“The game we got hit on the most was Army-Navy, but we knew we would that would happen based on the high number we posted,” Kessler said.

Obviously, Kessler, Miller, and Marshall all agreed that Army is much better and Navy is worse than some experts are projecting. Army went from -13 for the annual game being played Dec. 14, a week after most of the conference championship games, and it’s been hammered all the way down to -8.  

The starting point for each team rating is what I enjoy hearing about the most. I’m fascinated by the varying opinions from some of the smartest U.S. oddsmakers and the most respected team to the number so far is Clemson, which has taken over an area that Nick Saban and Alabama have dominated the past decade. 

“We’ve got Clemson two points better than Alabama, and we have a possible championship game matchup with the same number posted,” Kessler said. “Clemson and Alabama would both be seven points or better than any other team on a neutral site.”

That’s quite a divide from the haves and have nots in college football. Several high-profile programs are left in the dust on the point-spread rating chart.

Kessler has Clemson eight points better than Georgia, his third highest rated team, and 12 points better than Ohio State if that shows how high Clemson has raised the bar as being rated the No. 1 team in Las Vegas. 

And by the way, the Vegas rating should be incorporated somewhere in the national rankings because it’s smarter than the coaches poll, smarter than the writers poll and whatever else the college football playoff poll says. 

These oddsmakers have to beat bettors with money beating against them for their jobs. Put that test to the writers, coaches, and other pollsters. Put the money where the mouth is, or at least where the polling pen is.

Kessler said their handle was lower than the past, but that could be because CG Technology books opened numbers on their 80 games of the year one day earlier on Wednesday. Kessler saw CG’s numbers but said they didn’t do any adjusting based on differences, which shows a tremendous amount of confidence in their own work.  

The SEC led the way with 31 games involving teams in their conference, the Big Ten was next with 22 games.

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