For the fifth straight week the sports books’ fate on college football Saturday was in the hands of the popular teams playing in the nationally televised late games.
The day looked to be starting out as one of the best of the season for the books with the favorites stumbling out of the gate and ultimately ending with a 20-32 record for the week.
The underdogs were so impressive last week that 16 of them won outright led by Toledo (+7½), Central Michigan (+8½), Washington (+9½), Auburn (+10) and Clemson (+7).
As the first two waves of games were posted, every sports book director knew all they had to do to secure their best day of the season was split the late games with the public.
That’s not too much to ask for, is it?
They weren’t asking to sweep the board against the public, but rather just a measly split to get the corporate suits off their back for a Saturday because they haven’t been happy with September’s results, which haven’t met budgeted expectations.
The games the sports books needed to split on were Notre Dame (-12) against Purdue, Wisconsin (-9½) against Nebraska, Alabama (-3½) against Florida and Stanford (-21½) against UCLA.
The success rate on these late games hasn’t been good all season, so the house confidence level couldn’t have been high. Most have been in the business so long that they know trends and streaks always cycle around.
However, this season, nothing has cycled around and the public win-rate thus far in these type of games has been pretty impressive and one-sided.
“I think we are 1-12 in those type of games this season,” said Las Vegas Hilton Super Book executive director Jay Kornegay. “And in most of those cases, the losses are compounded even more because many of the games have gone OVER the posted total which is always a very popular side with the public in any game.”
On this day, the public wouldn’t be denied and rolled strong with their win streak. Not only did they do better than a split, or even win three of them, but they took all four.
Depending on what number the public got on the Notre Dame game, all four also went OVER the total.
“Everything we had built up for the day on all the games, a day that was going real well for us, was lost in an instant with the four games,” said Kornegay.
The back breaker for the sports books came in the final game posted where Stanford needed two unanswered fourth-quarter touchdowns to cover.
Stanford, in an attempt to impress pollsters and the BCS computer that might hold the Pac-12’s weak play this season against them when big BCS paychecks are handed out, scored the cover touchdown with 1:51 remaining in the game to win 45-19.
The final touchdown pass was thrown by starting quarterback Andrew Luck as well, showing how much Stanford wanted to make a statement in the box score for the rest of the nation that would likely read the score rather than watching the late west coast game.
The public love affair with Stanford won’t stop anytime soon no matter how high the spread gets. The Cardinal are now 4-0 ATS this season and have been a thorn in the side of Vegas sports books every week. This week they’ll welcome the struggling Colorado Buffaloes to Palo Alto as 27-point favorites.
Along with Stanford, the rest of this week’s big late games the sports books will have to beat down are Alabama (-28½) at home against Vanderbilt, Arkansas (-10) at home against surprising Auburn and Nebraska giving 10 at home to The Ohio State University.