College Sports

What Vegas thinks: Teams play better than expected week after Alabama. Can USC?

Heading into a crucial game against Missouri, South Carolina football opened the week as a 10-point underdog to the Tigers, before the betting line shifted to make Mizzou 9.5-point favorites.

With freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski set to make his first road start and Carolina and Missouri set to open SEC East play, The State spoke with longtime gambling industry reporter David Purdum, of ESPN Chalk, to get his thoughts on the betting side of USC-Mizzou.

The State: Missouri is listed as 9.5-point favorites. What goes into that and why is the spread so large?

David Purdum: Missouri ... had a lot of respect from oddsmakers to enter the season. A lot of the sharper college football handicappers that consult with these oddsmakers in Las Vegas and so forth, Missouri was kind of an “it” team. They liked Kelly Bryant a little bit going over there, they thought that was a good fit.

So their presumption was obviously wrong in that Wyoming loss to start, although I think that was kind of a tricky game. But I can tell you entering the season, there was buzz in the sports betting community, about Missouri being a team to watch.

TS: But that Wyoming loss wouldn’t change how much oddsmakers think of Missouri?

DP: Absolutely correct. That Wyoming game in the first game of the year, going up in that altitude up there, handicappers always mention the altitude in Wyoming as a factor. So while it looked like a bad loss, that coach up there (Craig Bohl), he won multiple national titles at North Dakota State. He’s good. So it was a tricky game.

TS: How much does South Carolina’s loss to Alabama affect how oddsmakers think of the Gamecocks? Does Vegas have a handle on USC yet?

DP: The number finished right around what they had the game. Carolina scored a last-second touchdown that covered the spread, so the margin, they had a pretty good gauge of it both on Alabama and South Carolina. So I think they’re starting to get a good feel, second game with the new quarterback. I think they’ve got a better feel than they did to start, of course.

It’s interesting though ... teams that, the week after they play Alabama, actually have been better against the spread than you would expect. I thought, oh gosh, they’d be worn out, but teams, for some reason, put as much credence as you want on it, but for some reason teams have exceeded the sports betting market’s expectations in the game after Alabama.

TS: There hasn’t been much movement on the line. Is that an indication the money bet has been split evenly so far?

DP: Yeah. I think there was a little bit of oddsmakers’ disagreement at the beginning. One book went up with 10 first, and I think it settled back at 9.5. I don’t think that was caused by any surge of money, I think that was more just an oddsmaker disagreement that went to the small side.

I did look up (coach Will Muschamp) off a loss, against the spread, like the rest of his record when you look at betting markets, he’s 10-10, he’s always right around .500.

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.