Within 15 minutes of Sunday morning’s announcement of who would be the Final Four teams playing in college football’s first playoff format, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had posted odds.
By doing so quickly for the two New Year’s Day bowl games, everyone standing in line to bet the day’s NFL games had something to talk about.
The SuperBook had already adjusted their ratings based on what happened in Saturday’s games and were ready and waiting for any combination of teams the committee selected.
The first number to be posted was the Rose Bowl featuring No. 2 seed Oregon as an 8.5-point favorite over Florida State, a number that might have had Florida State -4 if making the number in the preseason.
Next was the Sugar Bowl with No. 1 seed Alabama laying -9.5 getting to play near their backyard against No. 4 Ohio State. In the 24 hours since posting the lines, the game has shuffled back and forth from -9.5 to -10 and settled at -10 at the start of the week.
About a half hour after posting the sides of the two games, the Superbook also posted the totals with Oregon-Florida State set at 70.5 (now 71) and Alabama-Ohio State at 56.5 (now 58). They would post numbers of 36 more bowl games on Monday afternoon.
After hearing the initial buzz on how high or low either of the spreads were, much of the fun debating went on about how the Big-12 got screwed by the committee in this entire process. Sure, TCU was No. 3 coming in and handled Iowa State with 55-3 (the second-half anyway).
Did that win against a weak opponent look better on a resume than Baylor’s 38-27 victory against then No. 9 Kansas State? Or how about Ohio State pummeling No. 13 Wisconsin, 59-0, on a neutral field in the Big-10 championship game?
The bottom line is the Big-12 kind of screwed themselves as a result of a decision made not to screw themselves.
After missing out on a few BCS Championship game births in the past because their top contender lost in the conference title game, they felt they were cannibalizing each other and the title game was hurting their efforts to make the big payday, so they eliminated it.
Now because of not having a championship game, the Big-12 may of hurt itself again. Who knows, it could have been as simple as Baylor playing at home Saturday against K-State as opposed to on a neutral site. There is more of an edge at home and a neutral site or road win is considered more impressive.
For Ohio State, they did it all – won on a neutral field, beat a quality team and captured their conference title outright. And they did it while using a third-string quarterback. The idea is to get the best teams playing while also respecting a conference winner.
Any questions about the backup QB Cardale Jones dropping the Buckeyes rating should have been answered against the Badgers.
He’s no Braxton Miller or J.T. Barrett, but he’s still pretty good.
If Ohio State struggled Saturday night, and most of it was because of Jones, Baylor might have gotten the nod. We don’t get to see this actual process of the committee, but with the way Ohio State jumped to No. 4, and the manner in which they destroyed Wisconsin, style points had to help.
Now before we start burning couches in Columbus for celebrating this huge victory, it’s time to start worrying because the Buckeyes are 0-10 all-time in bowl games against the SEC – officially that is. The 2010 win over Arkansas was stripped because of tattoo-gate and ineligible players playing.
The Buckeyes lost to Florida in 2011 and BCS Championship games to Florida in 2007 and LSU in 2008. They even dropped the 1977 Sugar Bowl to Alabama.
After scratching and clawing for wins in Sunday’s first 13 NFL games, the Las Vegas sports books found themselves all with a tidy profit, but there was still one more game to go, and it was the most wagered and one-sided risk game of the day.
The Patriots were laying -3.5 at San Diego, and with them coming off a loss, it was the most popular selection of the day by the betting public. When the Patriots won, 23-14, many books had given back everything they had won on the day.
The best wins for the books were the Colts (-3) failing to cover in their 25-24 win at Cleveland, the Saints (-9) losing at home to the Panthers, and the Raiders (+9) beating the 49ers, 24-13. The back-door TD by Buffalo at Denver (-10) also helped erase lots of mounting parlay risk heading into the Patriots game.
A 50th to remember
A great scene last Saturday night at the Tap House as bookmakers from all across the Las Vegas valley showed up to give Richie Baccellieri a surprise 50th birthday party attended by 100 of the top people in our business.
Baccellieri, who used to operate books for Caesars Palace, MGM and the Palms, now works for sports betting software company Stadium Technologies and offers his outstanding take on games for The Linemakers on Sporting News.
Special thanks to LVDC’s Vinny Magliulo, the only bookmaker ever featured on “Late Night with David Letterman,” who put this whole thing together, and Tap House, an Ohio bar that had the Buckeyes game on loud and offered the best sausage pizza in town.
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].