As of Wednesday morning, Las Vegas sportsbooks like the state’s college-affiliated FBS teams (except FIU and Florida) this weekend, while bettors are slightly less enthusiastic according to Vegasinsider.com.
Two of the undefeateds -- the No. 8 Hurricanes (6-0) and No. 17 South Florida (7-0) -- opened and remain double digit favorites to stay unblemished.
Two years after getting stomped by North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Hurricanes return as 20.5-point favorites, the opening line holding steady. The Over/Under has risen from 50.5 to 53 for a game featuring a Tar Heels team that gives up 34.6 points per game and just got fed a well-done fiftyburger (59) by Virginia Tech.
USF’s stayed a 10.5-point home favorite against Houston (4-3), but the Over/Under total has dropped from 57.5 to 56.5 in a lot of books. That might be the steal of the week. Led by Jackson High graduate Quinton Flowers, the Bulls roll up 41.6 points per game, ninth in the nation. Houston gave up 42 to Memphis and 45 to Tulsa in its last two games, American Athletic Conference losses.
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Books refused to put a line up on what No. 18 Central Florida (6-0), averaging a national high 47.3 points per game and a winning margin of 30 points, will do to FCS opponent Austin Peay in Orlando.
Speaking of big points, Florida Atlantic (4-3) going Fielding Yost point-a-minute in a 69-31 thrashing of North Texas last week got the Owls installed as an 8-point road favorite at Western Kentucky, which used to hand out that kind of whipping weekly. The line’s dropped to 7. Bettors aren’t sure about either team, but are sure there will be points, wagering the Over/Under total from 66 to 69.
FIU’s 4-2, coming off a bye and, before that, their best game of the season in upsetting Tulane. Clearly, the books and bettors believe more in Santa Claus than the Panthers, 17-point underdogs at Marshall (6-1) after opening as 16.5-point underdogs. The reason for the spread and the low total (46): The Herd’s given up only 16 points in three Conference USA games the last three weeks.
Another team expected to have trouble scoring (because it often does), 3-3 Florida, is a 14-point underdog in the World Largest Cocktail Party rivalry game with 7-0 Georgia. That’s also why the Over/Under total has dropped to 43.5, a tempting prospect with Georgia scoring 31, 41, 45 and 53 in its last four Southeastern Conference games. Granted, none of those teams -- Mississippi St., Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Missouri -- plays defense like Florida, but nobody’s saying the defenses won’t score in this game.
Florida State’s 2-4 and averaging only 19.8 points per game (115th in the nation), but it’s still Florida State going to a 4-4 Boston College team. The Seminoles opened a 4.5-point road favorite on reputation and three close losses, then got bet down to 3.5 when bettors realized BC’s won three of their last four, including a 45-42 win against Louisville. The Over/Under total’s moved from 45 to 47.5, interesting for two teams that score at a 1970s rate.