Early bettors attacking Week 10 of the college football slate showed immediate interest in Pac-12 Conference South co-leader USC and resurgent UCLA when first numbers went up Sunday at Circa Sports in Las Vegas.
USC opened as a seven-point underdog to No. 7 Oregon in Saturday’s battle at the Coliseum. Bettors quickly drove the number down to six points. It’s telling that professional wagerers didn’t wait to see if public support for a ranked favorite might push the point spread higher. They were happy to take a talented home underdog at the key number of 7.
USC has an extra day of rest and preparation for its most challenging remaining game. The Trojans rallied to beat Colorado, 35-31, on Friday night behind 406 yards passing from Kedon Slovis. Oregon, a two-touchdown favorite, played late into the night Saturday, surviving Washington State, 37-35, with a field goal on the final play.
USC is 5-3 straight up this season, 4-4 against the point spread (ATS). With a 4-1 record in Pac-12 play, the Trojans are tied for first in the South with Utah, but they own the tiebreaker thanks to their win over the Utes.
UCLA opened as a 4½-point favorite at home against Colorado before rising to -5.5 in early betting. The Bruins are coming off double-digit upsets, and covers, as underdogs to Stanford and Arizona State.
That line of -5.5 still could be a cheap price based on Colorado’s recent road form. The Buffaloes lost 45-3 at Oregon and 41-10 at Washington State in their last two road games. And they could be demoralized after blowing a fourth-quarter lead to USC on national TV last Friday.
Chip Kelly’s Bruins are averaging 38.2 points their last five outings. His offense has learned how to finish drives, scoring six touchdowns against ranked Arizona State in Pasadena on Saturday. UCLA is 3-5 straight up, 3-4-1 ATS. Those records are dragged down by 0-3 starts both ways.
The Rams, a 12-point favorite, covered another point spread Sunday, beating Cincinnati 24-10. That brought the Rams to 6-2 ATS this season, 75% vs. the number.
The Chargers, a three-point underdog, covered their first point spread in a month in a 17-16 upset of Chicago. The Chargers, 3-5, are 2-4-2 ATS.
The Clippers are back in action Monday night against the Charlotte Hornets, looking to bounce back from a defensively soft 130-122 loss Saturday to the Phoenix Suns as 10-point favorites. Clearly, the Clippers lacked intensity after covering their first two games by 13.5 and 20 points over the Lakers and Golden State, respectively.
The Lakers return to the floor Tuesday night against Memphis at Staples Center before a Texas two-step at Dallas and San Antonio on Friday and Sunday. Those will be the Lakers’ first true road games of the season and good litmus tests for evaluating market expectations for LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Co. away from home against quality opponents.
NBA fans and bettors are buzzing about Golden State’s horrible start. The Warriors followed their 141-122 loss to the Clippers as one-point underdogs with a 120-92 loss at Oklahoma City as a one-point favorite. That’s a combined market miss of 47 points in just two games.
Justin Verlander will be on the mound Tuesday when the Houston Astros try to close out the Washington Nationals and win the World Series at Minute Maid Park. His inconsistent form in recent weeks has cost bettors big money.
Over Verlander’s last 15 outings, Houston has a record of 8-7. But that’s a debacle for bettors because money lines in his recent losses closed around -170, -140, -225, -285, -490, -190 and -430. That’s -19.3 in the failures, meaning a “money” record of eight wins and 19.3 losses (-11.3 units).
In his last four playoff games, Verlander’s earned-run average is 5.40 with a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 1.37 and six home runs allowed. Two of those were “second looks,” which Washington will be enjoying Tuesday. In rematches against Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees, his ERA was 6.75 and his WHIP 1.41 with four home runs allowed in 10-2/3 innings.
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