When it’s 110 degrees outside every day of the week, it’s a little hard to imagine football is right around the corner.
When you start seeing numbers pop up on the sportsbook wall boards, it kind of says football is close as July approaches. Over the weekend, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook set the fall mood for us all by posting odds to win on eight conference championship games. At 1:30 p.m. this Friday, the Golden Nugget sportsbook will be releasing pointspreads on their college football “games of the year.”
The biggest story line heading into the 2015 season is Ohio State University attempting the go back-to-back with Championship seasons for the first time in school history. Woody Hayes didn’t do it, Jim Tressel didn’t do it, but Urban Meyer has the opportunity in front of him and the path is a rather easy one, or at least through the first 12 games.
“Ohio State is going to be double-digit favorites in every game throughout the regular season and the Big Ten Championship game,” said SuperBook manager Ed Salmons. “Their toughest conference game is going to be at home against Michigan State and I’m thinking the number should be Ohio State as high as minus 16. You won’t see a single-digit number on them until the playoffs start.”
Last season when Ohio State met Alabama in the National semifinal game, the Buckeyes were getting +7.5, in part because back-up quarterback Cardale Jones was making his second career start and Alabama was already 4 points better in the rating before the Buckeyes lost J.T. Barrett for the season. But the gap has long been closed since Ohio State won that game, 42-35, and the two squads have reversed places in the ratings heading into the 2015 season.
“Right now, I’ve got them (Ohio State) about 3 points better than anyone (Alabama is No. 2) on a neutral field,” said Salmons. “We’re seeing upgraded talent with the Buckeyes and between their speed, so many returning starters, the system and coaching, they look like an SEC-type team.”
In three years as Ohio State’s head coach, Meyer – who won two National Titles while in the SEC coaching at Florida – has gone gone 38-3. However, Salmons is quick to note the huge disparity between the Big Ten as a whole and the SEC.
“The worst team in the SEC West could be the second-best team in the Big Ten, that’s how deep they go.”
And that’s one area skeptics of Ohio State in 2015 could reason that trouble is on the horizon. They won’t be battle tested. Last year, the Buckeyes weren’t expected to make the playoffs after an early season, 35-21, home loss to Virginia Tech as 10-point favorites.
No one believed in them except the fanatics in the state of Ohio, and they played the underdog role beautifully, gaining more confidence along the way playing the role of the hunter. They were set to prove everyone wrong and played with a purpose.
Now they’re the hunted, with a giant scarlet and gray bullseye attached to their backs for all opponents. They’ve also got another situation brewing that could be interesting to watch unfold.
“I think the only thing that could hurt them is internal with the quarterback situation,” said Salmons. “He’s (coach Meyer) going to try and play all three of them, but I just don’t see it working out. Braxton Miller should either transfer or red shirt. It’s kind of like the situation with Kentucky basketball this year where John Calipari indicated after the season he’d probably do things different if he had to do it all over again in regards to playing time.”
Still, Salmons has so much respect for Ohio State’s talent he’s made them 1-to-4 to win the Big Ten Championship game and he’s got them 3-to-1 to repeat as National Champions. TCU and Alabama are co-second choices to win it all at 7-to-1 odds.
No Las Vegas sportsbook has season win totals posted yet – CG Technologies expected soon, but former bookmaker Chris Andrews did the early work last month for AgainstTheNumber.com and posted the Buckeyes’ number at 11-flat. Six other teams were posted at 10 wins. We’ll update when the totals are released.
New phone for locals
Last week the Aliante sportsbook threw their hat into the mobile phone sports betting app ring and I think you all are going to love it.
The reasons are multi-layered beginning with the application itself, which was produced by Stadium Technologies, the same company that set up Boyd Gaming’s app. It’s smooth and easy to use, even for someone who isn’t so savvy with technology – simple, but advanced.
Also you’re going to love it is because of the betting menu, which is competitive with Westgate and William Hill as far as value offered to the customer. They are the only sportsbook in town to offer 8-cent baseball lines and now the drive out to the North Las Vegas casino is no longer an excuse to not take advantage of the value. It’s just a click away.
Perhaps the best thing is that book director Marc Nelson is in charge, which is good news for sharp bettors.
Nelson isn’t going to be taken advantage of by someone using multiple accounts to double up wagers, but he won’t give a bettor the boot for simply having continued success or playing sides that are moving. He gives bettors a fair shake and most respect him and play by his rules. The South Point has been very successful using a similar strategy with their phones.
I would venture to say this is going to be a huge addition to the Aliante sportsbook’s overall volume and I’d expect them to double revenues over the next year, and that could be an extremely low estimate. Anyone within the state of Nevada can get their app started with only a $50 deposit and play anything offered on their menu inside the book.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].