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Every line tells a story. Pointspreads are the great equalizer when it comes to sports… whether you choose to bet the games or not is irrelevant. The one number sure to stir plenty of debate this weekend is Florida St listed as 2.5 point favorites for their trip to Miami. Yes, less than a field goal chalk on the road against a Hurricanes side that’s already been saddled with 3 losses at the hands of Louisville, Nebraska, and Georgia Tech. If we assume this line closes at -3 or less, it will be the shortest price the Seminoles have laid in any game since the 2011 Champs Sport bowl vs Notre Dame. A stretch covering 28 games where oddsmakers viewed the Seminoles as more than a field goal superior to their opponents. So what gives on this price or are the oddsmakers just giving away money this weekend?
Last week one of the industry’s leading oddsmakers Ed Salmons was quoted saying he expected Florida St to be a short underdog in this game. His comments created a ripple effect among sports journalists given FSU’s winning streak and prominent place in the playoff rankings. Every oddsmaker (and bettor) uses power numbers to properly evaluate teams. Having a number to trust allows you to properly evaluate a match-up between directional Michigan schools as effectively as a national showdown. Salmons’ opinion differed from offshore books who chose to install FSU as a short road favorite. The disparate opinions between oddsmakers just goes to show how polarizing the current edition of Florida St has become, and not only to college football media.
A power number alone isn’t what leads a sportsbook to creating the point spread they make available to the public. Perceived home field advantage of about 3 points is built into every college football number as well. The natural assumption to make given those principles is that FSU right now is currently playing at a level about 5.5 points better than the Hurricanes if the game were to take place on a neutral field. I’ll personally contend including home field advantage for this game could actually create value on the Seminoles but that’s more of the handicapping that will take place rather than line creation. Come Saturday night the stadium will mostly likely be split right down the middle: garnett & gold clad FSU fans sitting in one section shoulder to shoulder with the green and orange Miami fan base, a pleasant mix of actual fans and empty seats. Along with a power number base line and home field advantage oddsmakers may also look to adjust based on recency bias or perception. Given the Noles current 2-7 against the spread record which has them tied for last in the nation with Connecticut, Akron, Toledo, Old Dominion, and Oregon St, it’s easy to understand why a line that was -17 against Miami has been adjusted by over 2 touchdowns.
We’ve already been here once before this season with Florida St just 10 days ago when the Seminoles went into hostile territory as a popular fade target (bet against team) for the professionals. Thanks to a 35-10 2nd half, they escaped Papa John’s Stadium with a 42-31 win over Louisville covering as 4 point road favorites.
Over the next few weeks until the playoff field is unveiled we’ll be privy to a number of elimination type games. Even if you’re not a gambler, glance at the point spreads on the biggest games to gain a better understanding of how gamblers view the landscape. We know FSU will have a target on their back every time they take the field but they won’t be the only top 10 team on “upset” alert from here on out.
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