The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas sent out its updated lines for Games of the Year on Monday.
Let’s start by taking a look at the key games on the Week 4 slate. For next Friday at The Coliseum in Los Angeles, Utah is a four-point road favorite against the Trojans, who are off a 45-20 win over Stanford to improve to 2-0.
This number was USC -2 when the Westgate opened it in mid-July. Since then, however, Trojans’ starting QB JT Daniels went down with a season-ending ACL tear.
On Saturday, Sept. 21, some of the updated numbers look like this: Florida -17 vs. Tennessee, Georgia -11.5 vs. Notre Dame, Texas A&M -6 vs. Auburn, Texas -4.5 vs. Oklahoma State, Michigan -1.5 at Wisconsin, UCF -7 at Pittsburgh and Oregon -6.5 at Stanford.
The spread for UGA-Notre Dame remains the same, while the Gators have simply moved one-half point from -16.5 against the Volunteers.
On the flip side, Wisconsin’s sweet start — 49-0 and 61-0 wins at South Florida and vs. Central Michigan, respectively — has prompted a six-point line move. The Badgers were initially 7.5-point home underdogs to the Wolverines, who are 2-0 straight up but 0-2 against the spread. Jim Harbaugh’s team needed double overtime to escape Army’s upset bid at The Big House this past Saturday.
Texas has gone from -11.5 to -4.5 vs. Oklahoma State. I certainly didn’t downgrade the Longhorns for their 45-38 home loss to LSU, especially considering the points they left out there in the first half.
Therefore, I suspect oddsmakers adjusted this line based on the excellent play of Cowboys’ redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders, who has completed 31-of-42 throws (73.8%) for 453 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. Sanders has also rushed for 160 yards with a 6.4 yards-per-carry average.
When these numbers came out in July, I expressed verbally, in writing and on social media that Texas A&M -2.5 vs. Auburn was my favorite of the GOY spreads. Why? Well, I like to go against teams with a freshman QB making his first career road start.
That’ll be the situation for Bo Nix at Kyle Field. The number has moved from -2.5 to -6, but I’m holding a healthy ticket on the Aggies at the better number.
As for UCF going from a 2.5-point underdog at Pitt to a seven-point ‘chalk,’ that can be attributed to the Panthers’ 30-14 home loss to Virginia in their opener. Plus, the Knights have looked sharp in a pair of blowout wins.
Oregon has moved from -2 to -6.5 at Stanford because the Cardinal won’t have its best offensive lineman and projected 2020 NFL first-round pick Walker Little. Star QB K.J. Costello’s status is in question as well since a Week 1 concussion.
Moving forward to Sept. 27, Penn State’s Friday night trip to College Park has seen a 10-point line move. The Nittany Lions opened as 14-point ‘chalk’ at Maryland, but that number is down to four.
I recommended Maryland’s win total ‘over’ four this summer. The Terrapins are off to a 2-0 start both SU and ATS, smashing Syracuse 63-20 in Week 2 and outscoring their two foes by a combined score of 142-20.
I’m not sure why the Westgate has downgraded Auburn so far. The Tigers rallied to beat Oregon in their opener and then bested Tulane by a 24-6 count. Meanwhile, Mississippi State has a rash of suspensions and injuries on its offensive line.
Nevertheless, Auburn has been moved from -10 against the Bulldogs down to -5. Ohio State is now -9 at Nebraska instead of -6.
Moving to Oct. 5, we see another instance of Auburn’s decline (at least from oddmakers). The Gators are up to -6.5 vs. AU after opening as three-point home favorites.
Michigan’s shaky start is reflected again with its status as a 10.5-point home favorite vs. Iowa. The Hawkeyes opened as 15.5-point underdogs.
LSU has been one of the nation’s most impressive teams to date, demonstrating a high-flying offense that’s been missing in Baton Rouge for more than a decade. The updated lines reflect this notion after the Tigers scored 100 points in their first two contests.
Ed Oregeron’s team has moved from -7 to -10.5 for an Oct. 12 showdown vs. Florida at Tiger Stadium. These rivals have played five games in a row that have been decided by one possession. Eight of the past 10 meetings have been decided by 11 points or fewer.
Alabama’s initial stance as a 14.5-point road favorite at Texas A&M has dropped a point to -13.5.
Once again, another puzzling indicator of Texas seeing its stock fall is that it’s now a 10-point underdog to Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. The Westgate opened the Sooners as three-point favorites.
LSU has moved from -7 at Mississippi State on Oct. 19 to -12.5 points. Boise State, which has a win at FSU and a non-covering home triumph over Marshall, is a four-point road ‘chalk’ at BYU. This line had the Cougars favored by two points in July.
Moving to Oct. 26, LSU is now a 13-point home favorite vs. Auburn, which was a 5.5-point underdog initially. The home team has prevailed in 16 of the last 19 in this rivalry, but the Bayou Bengals won 22-21 on The Plains last year as 10-point underdogs on a walk-off field goal.
Here’s another example of Wisconsin’s stock rising: The Badgers are 9.5-point underdogs at Ohio State. The Buckeyes opened -13.5 for this showdown that could see a rematch in early December.
Georgia remains a 7.5-point favorite against the Gators for their annual showdown in Jacksonville on Nov. 2.
On that same day, Washington is a three-point home underdog vs. Utah. The Utes opened 4.5-point ‘dogs for this key Pac-12 matchup.
Chris Petersen’s team went down in stunning fashion as a double-digit home favorite vs. California this past week. The Golden Bears had struggled to get past UC Davis, an FCS school, in their opener. If this current line holds, it would be the first home underdog spot for the Huskies since 2015.
Another team that’s seen its reputation plummet is the Florida State Seminoles, who lost at home to Boise State before edging ULM 45-44 in overtime thanks to a missed PAT from the Warhawks in the extra session.
Willie Taggart has to be paid an $18 million buyout if he’s fired after the 2019 campaign, and FSU’s athletic program is reportedly dealing with money problems that are only going to grow worse with empty seats galore at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Anyhow, the ‘Noles were three-point favorites vs. Miami originally, but the Hurricanes are now favored by five.
Alabama hasn’t lost to LSU since dropping a 9-6 decision in overtime at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2011. The Westgate opened the Crimson Tide as a 16-point home ‘chalk’ vs. LSU, but that number has been reduced to -11.5.
Yet again, we have Auburn at a more generous number for its Nov. 16 home date vs. Georgia. The Bulldogs opened -4, but they’re now favored by 11 points.
However, we’ll note that Gus Malzahn owns a 6-2 spread record in eight games as a home underdog during his seven-year tenure. Georgia came to Jordan-Hare Stadium undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the country in 2017, only to get run out of town in a 40-17 blowout.
Nebraska blew a big lead in an overtime loss at Colorado last week. The Cornhuskers were five-point home favorites to Wisconsin in July, but the Badgers are now 3.5-point road ‘chalk’ for their trip to Lincoln.
Paul Chryst’s squad opened -7 vs. Purdue at Camp Randall on Nov. 23, but the Badgers are up 5.5 points to -12.5 against the Boilermakers.
For Rivalry Weekend on Nov. 30, the new lines look like this: Mississippi State -10 vs. Ole Miss (Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night), Nebraska pick ’em vs. Iowa (Friday), Washington -4.5 vs. Washington State (Apple Cup on Friday), Michigan -2 vs. Ohio State, Wisconsin -4 at Minnesota, Alabama -17 at Auburn in the Iron Bowl, Florida -18.5 vs. FSU, UGA -24 at Ga. Tech, Kentucky -7 vs. Louisville, LSU -10 vs. Texas A&M, Clemson -24.5 at South Carolina, Tennessee -6.5 vs. Vanderbilt and Oklahoma -11 at Oklahoma State.
The Gators opened -10.5 vs. the ‘Noles, who are 1-4 both SU and ATS in five road assignments since Taggart took over. Taggart is 6-8 during his tenure to date, but only three wins have come against Power Five opponents: 28-24 at Louisville thanks to a late fourth-quarter rally, 38-17 vs. Wake Forest and 22-21 vs. Boston College.
The Iron Bowl spread has seen Alabama go from its lowest line of the year (-13) up four points to -17. LSU opened -8 to the Aggies, so it has moved North just two points. This is obviously a huge revenge situation for the Tigers, who lost in seven overtimes in College Station last year after multiple plays that had seemingly won the game for them were reversed on replay.
Instead of being a one-point underdog at Minnesota, Wisconsin is favored by four over the Gophers. PJ Fleck’s team rallied to beat South Dakota State 28-21 in Week 1 before edging Fresno State 31-28 in double overtime as a three-point road favorite.
Like Auburn and FSU, we have another example of how Nebraska’s stock has dipped. The Cornhuskers opened as seven-point home favorites to the Hawkeyes, who we’ll find out a lot more about Saturday when they visit Ames to take on the Cyclones.