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Vegas Likes Northwestern, Bettors Don't

Last week we posted links to the Golden Nugget's early college football betting lines, and we noted that sports books seem to love Northwestern this year. The Wildcats are picked to go 7-2 in the nine lines listed, with losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin. Three games — Nebraska (???), Western Michigan and Maine — aren't listed, but it looks like NU will eventually be picked to go 9-3, with a projected loss to Nebraska and projected wins against Western Michigan and Maine. All-in-all, that's pretty high praise, but it makes sense considering NU went 12-1 against the spread last year.

However, it seems bettors aren't buying the hype. (Hat tip to Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette for finding this. If you're a Big Ten fan — and I'm assuming most of you are — give him a follow on Twitter at @Hlas. You won't be disappointed.)

From someone named Teddy Covers (@teddy_covers) of

It’s not unusual for bettors to have a very strong opinion on certain games, driving the pointspread three, four or five points off the opener. Nor is it unusual for bettors to support or fade one or two teams over and over again. But there wasn’t much of that this year. In fact, in the first few hours of the feeding frenzy, only four teams were significantly bet in multiple games.

Those four teams included one bet against squad – Northwestern – and three teams that were bet on in multiple contests – Iowa, Arkansas and TCU.  The anti- Northwestern money was no surprise to the Nugget staff. After going 12-1 ATS last year and returning nearly every key skill position player on both sides of the ball, the Nugget is very high on the Wildcats.

And then there's this gem:

Bettors didn’t agree, leading to this classic quote from notable wiseguy Steve Fezzik: “The only sport that Northwestern can be favored by 12 at Iowa is in chess.”

So what does this all mean!? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Northwestern has, in fact, beaten Iowa in sports that aren't chess, and even if the Wildcats hadn't, it still amazes me that anyone would bet on a college football game in June when that game will be played in October. Still, it's interesting to see what public opinion thinks of the Wildcats. It appears the public — or at least gamblers — aren't as high on NU as we originally thought. In fact, the Iowa-NU game had so much money going against NU that the line was quickly dropped:

So what were the three games that got triple popped (taking three wagers on a single side) in the first few hours of betting action? That Northwestern – Iowa game on October 26th that I referenced above was one.  The Wildcats opened as 12 point road favorites, bet down to -8.5 by mid-afternoon.

Oh, Vegas. Never change.