David Purdum, gaming industry analyst for ESPN, joins The State for a third season of weekly visits to talk about South Carolina football, and how Las Vegas looks at the Gamecocks. Today, we talk about Thursday’s matchup against Texas A&M and what the “sharps” think about South Carolina.
The State: I just want to start off by talking about the summer betting activity on the Gamecocks. They were a pretty popular bet right?
David Purdum: They were. They opened at 60-to-1 to win the national title at the LVH SuperBook. That opened up way back on the first week of January. They are now down to 30-to-1, so there has been enough action to drop their odds basically in half in the betting market. The other notable thing is the season win total. They were expected to win 9.5, you could bet over or under 9.5. As soon as the SuperBook put that up, they took three limit bets on over 9.5 wins. They usually take $1,000 on those early limit bets, so there was significant interest in the Gamecocks early on.
The State: So does that tell you that the public is starting to like South Carolina?
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David Purdum: I wouldn’t designate the public for those limit bets. Those are guys who live in Vegas that are positioned and know when these numbers come out, and they will wait to see them and they will attack so that was what I would consider respected or sharp money on the wins total. The national title, that’s more of your public perspective and yes they are generating some interest from the public as well.
The State: Las Vegas either likes South Carolina more than I thought they might, or they don’t like Texas A&M as much, because I am surprised that the Gamecocks are such a big favorite over the Aggies. You tell me that line is at 10.5 now?
David Purdum: Yeah, 10.5 now, double-digit line, and I am with you. Kevin Sumlin has a really, really good record against the spread. Obviously, he’s had a bunch of success. The loss of Manziel is the big question mark about them. Ten and a half sounds like a lot to me, I agree.
The State: Is that an indication that Las Vegas’ power rankings have that big a gap or that they feel like the number they can get action on?
David Purdum: The number has settled at 10.5 so that is the number the betting market has accepted as somewhat fair. I worked with a veteran Las Vegas odds make over the summer and we try to set odds on every game. Chris Andrews on Twitter if anybody wants a good follow. He set that number at 5.5 when we did it, so we were both surprised when we saw it. It started out at 8.5, 9 and now it’s all the way up to 10.5.
The State: You tell me you can find some more early lines on the Gamecocks at this point, so what is out there?
David Purdum: You’ve got the big game week three when Georgia comes to South Carolina, and South Carolina is a 1.5 point favorite. Then you move down to later October you look at Auburn where they are a 7-point underdog. The mid-November when they go down to Florida, who they have kind of owned, South Carolina is minus-1 there, and then the big in-state showdown, South Carolina is a 1.5-point favorite over Clemson. The seven points at Auburn is probably going to be their biggest underdog game.
The State: To put you on the spot with our final question, and this doesn’t have to be South Carolina related, what’s the play out there in college football that interests you the most?
David Purdum: Let me preface this by saying this, when I bet I bet $20. But the thing that I like right now, especially after Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was injured, I like Michigan State to win the Big Ten, and I think they can get into the playoff, but don’t bet it now. Wait until week two when they go up to Oregon. They are a double-digit underdog there. If they get trounced by Oregon, wait until their odds shoot up and grab them because the rest of the season, they are going to be favored in almost every game. I think right now, Michigan State is 25-to-1 to win it all. If they lose to Oregon, you will see that number go up to 30, 40, maybe a little higher. Grab it then. If they get in the playoff, you’ve got a 40-to-1 underdog there, and you can do a lot of things on the other side to secure yourself some money.