UNLV pays Howard $600,000 to travel then Rebels lose as 45-point favorite

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It’s a bit ironic that the biggest college football upset from a point-spread perspective would happen against UNLV. The Rebels were a 45-point favorite against Howard, a team UNLV paid $600,000 as a travel expense fee for visiting Las Vegas. The idea was that UNLV could jump out to a 1-0 record, then win at Idaho and be 2-0 before traveling to Columbus for a date with the Buckeyes.

What they didn’t count on is Cam Newton’s younger brother, Caylin Newton, being an unstoppable force at QB. Newton started his assault early in the first quarter with a 52-yard TD run to take a 7-0 lead. He’d also score the final TD on a 4-yard run to make it 43-40. UNLV shot themselves in the foot losing three fumbles, but ultimately it was their defense’s inability to stop Newton on the ground. He rushed for 190 yards. It’s a crushing blow for second year coach Tony Sanchez. Back to the drawing board.

Despite the record setting spread, I still think the biggest upset with a team that matters – or did – was Baylor losing 48-45 as 32-point home favorites against Liberty University, which was founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971. As part of the celebration for winning, some of the students from the Christian university drove south from Waco to help with the Texas flood victims.

Saturday nite plight

Las Vegas sportsbooks had varied results on the first full weekend of college football, but one thing they were all united with on Saturday night is getting buried by the public with teams like Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma covering the spreads.

“Friday was very solid for us, but Saturday was break even,” said Westgate SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. “We had a big cushion going into the late games and gave it all back.”

Kornegay sighted Maryland’s outright win as a 19-point underdog at Texas as their biggest win of the weekend, but his book couldn’t escape the popular public teams covering.

“The two marquee games Saturday both went against us, Michigan and Alabama,” he said. “Alabama was our biggest loser since it was the tail end of a lot of parlays.”

Over at CG Technology, VP of risk management Jason Simbal didn’t have big wins to speak of outside of Purdue covering 25.5 against Louisville.

“It wasn’t good at all,” he said. “We needed the right underdogs and didn’t get any. We we’re big losers to Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and Penn State.”

No. 1 Alabama (-7.5) outclassed No. 3 Florida, 24-7, and No. 11 Michigan (-3.5) easily handled a Florida squad, 33-17, in a game where Michigan’s defense dominated. Both of Florida’s TD’s came early of off interceptions. Despite only one starter returning to Michigan’s defense, they’ve got their act together. Lookout Big Ten.

When the popular teams all cover together, it’s bad news for the books.

Observations

I really liked Alabama’s and Michigan’s defense as well as Colorado’s defense in a poorly officiated game against Colorado State. California scored over 37 ppg the past two seasons with Jared Goff and Davis Webb taking snaps, but what new QB Ross Bowers did Saturday might be most impressive by generating 35 points, throwing for 363 yards and four TDs in his first career game. It came at Chapel Hill 2,800 miles away.

Western Michigan said the heck with getting +28, we want the win at USC and they almost got it, but fell short 49-31 in a game that was much closer than the score indicates. The Texas Longhorns’ total rating is going to likely be too low for their next few games under new coach Tom Herman. Also, I can’t wait for the tuned up Oklahoma Sooners at Ohio State this weekend.

Chiefs/Patriots

New England starts its defense as NFL champions at home against Kansas City on Thursday night in a spot where the spread has been rising following a trend they forced from last season. New England comes into the game with a key player out (Julian Edelman) while Kansas City is starting a rookie running-back in the backfield (Kareem Hunt). It’s a battle between two of the most opportunistic defenses, but best of all it’s the first NFL game of the year. Let’s get this 2017 party started.

“We opened the Patriots -7.5 with low limits in July, but we got respected money laying it and the same thing happened when we went to -8,” said MGM Resorts sportsbook hub manager Jeff Stoneback, who is comfortable at -8.5. “We’re at a 10-to-1 ratio with Patriots money, but it’s pretty evenly bet as far as ticket counts, showing there is some Chiefs support out there.”

Stoneback said their total dropped from 48 to 47.5 due to sharp money making one large wager on the Under.

Station Casinos has reached the highest in town at -9.5. The Westgate SuperBook opened New England -7 with a total at 50 on April 20 when the NFL schedule was first announced.

I’ve got the Patriots 4-points better than the Chiefs and I give them a full 3-points for home field. So it’s an easy 7-point spread for me. Usually, I would jump on an opportunity like this with KC where there was over 20 percent of perceived value at the books compared with my number, but the Patriots are a different story. Their 2016-17 season was incredible going 15-3-1 ATS against inflated spreads.

A big part of the Chiefs’ 12-4 season last year can be attributed to an NFL-leading 33 takeaways, which helped them tie with the Raiders at a +16 turnover ratio. Yes, they teach and practice takeaways, but some of it is lucky and it’s not something that should be expected the following year at the same rate. The Patriots were tied with Atlanta for having the least giveaways with 11 each.

I’m torn because I think the conservative Chiefs offense can hang with the Patriots and do something to keep Tom Brady off the field; Alex Smith is a great game manager and doesn’t make the big mistake. However, I also have way too much respect for the Patriots covering inflated lines last season. I’m going to wait and watch them fail to cover until betting they won’t. However, I do see value with the Under even though it’s dropped from the opener.

UNDER is the play.

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