Early grades out for college football's elite

May 24, 2016 3:00 AM

It’s only May, but a couple of sports books in Las Vegas have been very busy posting college football odds and propositions.

The South Point kicked things off last week by opening spreads on 40 “Games of the Year” and also posted Week 1 numbers for every game. A few days later the crew at the Golden Nugget opened regular season win totals for 24 schools with four set at a high of 10 wins each, and perennial powerhouses Alabama (9.5) and Ohio State (8.5) weren’t among them.

“We went game by game for each team and made the spreads as close as possible for what we think they’ll be,’ said Golden Nugget assistant manager Aaron Kessler regarding the win totals. “We’ve had good feedback so far, and nothing has run yet, which at least shows us that our numbers are decent.”

The numbers are very good, or at least bettors aren’t as smart with no other competing numbers available. The Golden Nugget will open their “Games of the Year” on July 8 and South Point sports book director Chris Andrews said they’ll open their season win totals on Thursday. Limits at both books are set at $1,000.

Of all the totals, the one that’ll make you look twice to verify is Tennessee who last won more than 10 games during the regular season in 1998 when they went 12-0 and eventually won the National Championship. Last season they went 8-4 before winning the Outback Bowl. It was their best season since 2007.

“Tennessee stands out above all the numbers at 10 wins just because we’re expecting them to be better than the level of plays we’ve seen the past few years,” Kessler said. “They’ve got a fairly easy schedule dodging of a couple of the good West teams and then they get Bama at home, a game I don’t think will be more than field goal spread.”

The Vols’ home game against Alabama is Oct. 15 and the South Point set Alabama as 3-point road favorites. Ohio State has won 12 games or more in each of the past four seasons under Urban Meyer, but after having five Buckeyes drafted to the NFL among the first 20 players selected, 10 picked in the first three rounds and 12 overall, the 2016 outlook has a lot of question marks.

“We have the Buckeyes at 8.5 and the number isn’t getting any love either way as many expect this to be a down year for them,’ said Kessler. “They have a tricky schedule, but we’re definitely expecting money to flow their way on the OVER. Michigan has a favorable schedule and look to be the favorite to win the Big Ten.”

Michigan has a non-conference schedule all at home to start the year facing Hawaii, Central Florida and Colorado. Their three toughest games are all on the road – at Michigan State (Oct. 29), at Iowa (Nov. 12) and two weeks later at Ohio State. The South Point set Ohio State at -6.5, but Michigan – in a revenge spot from last year’s blowout at the Big House – saw money come in quickly and it quickly dropped to -5.

The Golden Nugget also posted season win totals for all the Power Five conferences with the SEC topping the list at 103.5 wins.

Viva Football

The UEFA Champions League Final takes place Saturday afternoon with Real Madrid a -140 favorite over Atletico Madrid at San Siro Stadium in Milan. The two La Liga clubs finished second and third, respectively, behind Barcelona but ran the gauntlet in the most prestigious club tournament in the world. Sure, it would have been nice to have an English, German or Italian Club as a participant in the final, but the event is so spectacularly popular internationally that it merits a trip to watch it someplace with other soccer fans.

There are a couple of great spots in Las Vegas to watch the match. If looking for the pub atmosphere with stellar pint pours, then McMullen’s Irish Pub across from The Orleans is your spot. If you’re looking for the best viewing presentation where you know the sound is going to be blaring as a big event should, the Westgate SuperBook is a must visit with their giant HD screens.

The Westgate also has dozens of props for the game, including one asking whether or not Cristiano Ronaldo will score a goal where NO is -170 and YES is +150. With a total set a 2 (OV -120) for 90 minutes, goals figure to be hard to come by.

No Road Warriors

It was just a week ago that the Warriors were -150 to win the NBA title, but that’s the price you can lay now at the Golden Nugget for them to win the series against Thunder who took a 2-1 series lead Sunday night with an astounding 133-105 beat down. With Golden State being a bit out of sync, it sets up a nice possibility of Cleveland finally getting some kind of championship in the city for the first time in any sport since the Browns won it all in 1964.

Of course, it could add to another chapter of agonizing defeats. The Thunder are on quite a roll and playing by far their best ball of the season. Updated Westgate title odds have the Warriors and Cavs at 5-to-4 each, the Thunder at 7-to-2 and Raptors at 150-to-1.

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. Twitter: @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected]