It’s a brave new world for sports bettors in the U.S. as the college football season kicks off in full this weekend with legal bookmakers operating in a handful of new states.
In addition to Las Vegas, sportsbooks will be up and running this weekend in casinos and racetracks in Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey and West Virginia.
Tread lightly, though — Nevada sportsbooks have never had a losing September. In fact, September has produced four of the top five most lucrative football months ever for Nevada books, including a record $43.4 million boon in September 2012.
Patience, as you can see, can be a virtue for new bettors.
What are the biggest wagers made so far to win the College Football Playoff? What are the betting differences in New Jersey and Nevada? Who is getting the most money to win the Heisman? Where is the Week 1 action going? Which teams have the most NFL talent?
Those answers and more are below in our preseason college football Gambling Manifesto.
Good luck this season!
Where the money is going
Most bets to win the national championship (at Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas)
1. Ohio State
Most money wagered to win national championship (at Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas)
• More bets have been placed on Ohio State to win the national championship at MGM sportsbooks as well.
• More money has been bet on Clemson to win the national championship than has been bet on any other team at Caesars Palace, MGM and William Hill sportsbooks. The Tigers account for 22 percent of the money wagered on William Hill’s odds to win the national championship in the company’s sportsbooks in Nevada and New Jersey. At MGM, there is roughly $3,000 more on Clemson than Alabama at MGM books.
• The Crimson Tide have attracted the most money at the Westgate and South Point sportsbooks. “We opened Alabama at 5-2 (to win the national championship) and immediately took a bet for two grand on Alabama,” said Westgate SuperBook director and oddsmaker John Murray. “That’s the kind of bets you see on Alabama.”
• Clemson opened as a +125 favorite at the Westgate to reach the College Football Playoff. The Tigers are now -180 to reach the playoff. “We took some sharp money on Clemson,” Murray added. “I think we opened Clemson a little bit too high, because we had guys immediately come in and bet them at +125 and even money.”
• More than half of the money wagered on the odds to win the national championship at DraftKings’ New Jersey sportsbook is on either Clemson or Alabama. The Tigers have attracted the most bets and the most money.
• More money has been wagered on Michigan to win the national championship than any other team at the FanDuel sportsbook at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
• In South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews’ power ratings, Alabama is 1.5 points ahead of Clemson.
• The largest season-win total bet the Westgate SuperBook had taken was on Oregon State. A house player, meaning a VIP casino guest, bet to win $80,000 on the Beavers to win less than 2.5 games at -130.
• “A guy that I consider to be sharp, bet Oklahoma at 6-1 and 5-1 (to make the playoff). Right now, we’re down to 4-1 on Oklahoma,” Murray said.
• Alabama Crimson Tide QB Tua Tagovailoa is the co-favorite at 5-1 to win the Heisman trophy at Westgate, and has received the most money wagered (over 21 percent). Stanford RB Bryce Love is second with 10.9 percent of all money wagered, followed by Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor. The Westgate’s second-biggest liability is 50-1 longshot is UCF QB McKenzie Milton.
• Couple other popular public season win totals from Westgate, per Murray: South Carolina over 7, Michigan State over 8.5
Where you can bet college football now
It’s a brave new world after the Supreme Court overturned PASPA. Outside Nevada, legal sportsbooks will be up and running this weekend in casinos and racetracks in Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey and West Virginia. In Mississippi, West Virginia and Nevada, you will be allowed to wager on college in-state teams (Marshall, Ole Miss, etc.). In New Jersey and Delaware, those odds won’t be offered at the sportsbooks.
Best ATS record over past five seasons
1. Baylor’s Matt Rhule: 39-22-0 ATS
2. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell: 36-21-2 ATS
3. Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson: 37-23-1 ATS
4. Duke’s David Cutcliffe: 36-23-2 ATS
5. Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck: 30-19-0 ATS
Worst ATS record over past five seasons
1. Kentucky’s Mark Stoops: 24-36-0 ATS
2. Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin: 24-35-1 ATS
3. East Carolina’s Scottie Montgomery: 6-17-1 ATS
4. Hawaii’s Nick Rolovich: 6-17-1 ATS
5. SMU’s Sonny Dykes 19-29-0 ATS
Best ATS record at home over past five seasons
1. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell: 19-10-2 ATS
2. Tulane’s Willie Fritz: 15-7-1 ATS
3. Purdue’s Jeff Brohm: 16-8-0 ATS
Best ATS record on the road over past five seasons
1. Northern Illinois’ Rod Carey: 22-9-1 ATS
2. Baylor’s Matt Rhule: 20-9-0 ATS
3. Louisiana Tech’s Skip Holtz: 21-11-0 ATS
Best ATS record as favorite over past five seasons
1. Tulane’s Willie Fritz: 18-8-1 ATS
2. Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson: 22-12-0 ATS
3. Florida State’s Willie Taggart: 18-9-0 ATS
Best ATS record as underdog over past five seasons
1. Baylor’s Matt Rhule: 24-12-0 ATS
2. Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson: 22-13-1 ATS
3. Duke’s David Cutcliffe: 18-10-1 ATS
Best “over” coach in past five seasons
1. New Mexico State’s Doug Martin: 38-20-1 over/under
2. Louisiana-Monroe’s Matt Viator: 19-7 over/under
3. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer: 38-25 over/under
Best “under” coach in past five seasons
1. Duke’s David Cutcliffe: 40-20-0 under/over
2. Syracuse’s Dino Babers: 38-18-1 under/over
3. South Florida’s Charlie Strong: 39-20-0 under/over
By the numbers
• 9.2 percent: The percentage of regular-season games that were decided by three points last year, a three-year high. Seven was the most common margin of victory in 2016. Over the past three seasons, 8.3 percent of games have ended with a three-point margin of victory, and 8.1 percent of games have ended with a seven-point margin of victory, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
• 128: The number of games to feature a point spread of -3. Three-point favorites are 63-53-12 against the spread over the past three regular seasons.
• 127: The number of games that have featured a point spread of -7 over the past three seasons. Seven-point favorites are 57-57-13.
• 96-59-2: Wisconsin’s record against the spread in second halves since 2005.
• 57-97-5: USC’s record against the spread in second halves since 2005.
• 183: The number of games won straight-up by point-spread underdogs last season. That’s 17 fewer than 2016 but still the third-most outright upsets in the past 13 years.
• 12: The number of outright upsets pulled by Wyoming coach Craig Bohl over the past five seasons, the most in the nation.
• 55.86: Average total points scored in regular-season games in 2017, the lowest since 2011.
• 442: The number of regular-season games that stayed under the total in 2017, the most since at least 2005. There have been more unders than overs in four consecutive seasons.
• 423: The number of underdogs that covered the spread during the 2017 regular season, the second-most in at least the past 13 seasons and behind only 2016.