Las Vegas sports books enjoy strong NCAA football week

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Chalk a Saturday win up for the Las Vegas sports books. It may have taken one of the biggest upsets in a decade to help get it, but the losing streak is over.

Last weekend’s college football action not only saw Oklahoma as a 29-point favorite lose 41-38 at home to Texas Tech, but they got plenty of help from 24 other underdogs on the week.

For the last few weeks the sports books have been getting buried and most of it has to do with all the public favorites coming together in big parlays. Last week, the sports books got a nice mix of favorites only going 25-25.

We’ve seen balanced decisions like this for most of the season, but the biggest difference maker was actually having a few of the popular top-ranked teams not cover.

Of the 25 underdogs that covered in last week’s college football action, 16 of them won outright. Of those 16 games, six were double digit dogs with Michigan State (+7½) and USC (+9½) coming close to jumping into that category.

Instead of playing it safe with a few teams, bettors kept coming strong with the teams that have been covering all year. While the regular sports book assassins like LSU (-21), Oregon (-30½), Alabama (-30), Oklahoma State (-6½) and Stanford (-20) all got there last week, teams like Boise State, Arkansas and Texas A&M threw a monkey wrench into bettors dreams of cashing in another 8-team parlay and were then stymied even more with Oklahoma falling.

Something was definitely brewing in the air even before the Sooners kicked off as there was almost a two-hour lightning storm delay. Once play began, thunder struck again with the Red Raiders early and often as they threw an insurmountable lead on the scoreboard. Oklahoma became the largest favored team to lose this season.

Not that one big loss has to do with anything else, but it does put something to file away in every bettors mind who has been covering all season with the big favorites. If it can happen to Oklahoma, it can happen to anyone. Bettors haven’t had to question any of their bets this season. Most could basically look at the top-10 rankings, fire away and come out with a nice parlay payout.

Beyond those games, others that helped the book’s included USC beating Notre Dame outright, Iowa not covering 23½ against Indiana and Hawaii (-21½) failing to cover the late ’get-back’ game against New Mexico State.

The books were also helped by not having the Thursday and Friday college games spilling over with high risk like has happened the few weeks. Almost everyone in town lost their bets when UAB beat Central Florida as a 16-point underdog on Thursday night. Then on Friday night, a very popular West Virginia (-14) squad was beat outright 49-23 at Syracuse.

For the first time all season, the books weren’t bombarded with extended liability on Saturday’s game before the games even started.

Stanford’s Pac-12 Blues

The coaches poll has Stanford No. 3, the writers have them No. 4, but the BCS computer formula, the one that matters, spits out No. 6. How is this possible? Even with Wisconsin and Oklahoma losing last week, the Cardinal still find themselves behind Clemson and Boise State.

The fact that Boise State is ahead them shows how little respect the Pac-12 has within the BCS. Stanford can pile up 65 points against a good team like Washington and it still thinks less of them than Boise State struggling with Air Force.

If not for the Oklahoma loss, Stanford might be the story of the year, at least from Las Vegas’ perspective. They remain the only team to cover every spread this season (7-0 ATS) and they haven’t even made bettors sweat. Sharp money came in late last week against Stanford and Washington hung around for the first quarter, but Andrew Luck is just so consistently good, he rarely has a bad series.

Between Stanford’s power running game and Luck’s accuracy, there doesn’t look to be many teams in football that can play with them. The Cardinal will get a test this week at USC and then welcome Oregon November 12, but it doesn’t seem the like cards will fall their way in the BCS to make the title game.

In an effort to impress the BCS computers, look for Stanford to bury every team they can whenever possible. If they can pile up loads of points against the Pac-12’s best in USC and Oregon and then destroy Arizona State in the conference championship game, they may be able to impress in the same manner Oklahoma State has done and move up the ladder.

Here’s a look at three games that have BCS title ramifications:

Oklahoma (6-1) at Kansas St (7-0): The Wildcats find themselves No. 8 in the BCS and if they can take care of business this week as a 13-point underdogs and carry that momentum next week into Oklahoma State with a win, they might find themselves sitting No. 2 before their home game against Texas A&M. We may be getting ahead of ourselves because that’s a formidable task ahead of them, but they’ll be rewarded handsomely by running the table.

For the Sooners, they can begin their climb as a one loss team vying for the title game this week and hope that an impressive win on Dec. 3 at Oklahoma State is enough to push them past other one-loss teams, and even undefeated teams like Boise State and Stanford.

Baylor (4-2) at Oklahoma St (7-0): This game should produce the highest scoring output of the weekend. The Cowboys are 16-point favorites and come in as the nation’s second most prolific passing and scoring team. Should they beat Baylor, Kansas State and then Texas Tech, they’ll be set up perfectly for a home game against the Sooners. Should they complete that task unscathed, they’ll be set up for the title game with the winner of the LSU-Alabama game.

Clemson (8-0) at Georgia Tech (6-2): After two straight losses, the Yellow Jackets aren’t even ranked anymore. It would be hard to believe that even if Clemson ran the table they could stay ahead of Stanford should they beat Oregon and USC. Their only stumbling block looks to their season finale at South Carolina and then Virginia Tech in the ACC title game. They look to be on pace to be the conference representative in a BCS bowl and in store for another ACC whipping by Stanford, just like the Hokies.

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