ESPN.com sports gaming writer David Purdum joins us this week to discuss the line in the South Carolina-Florida game and why it looked so different in various places on Sunday, plus the parallels between this game and the last time the Gamecocks were favored in this series.
When this line opened, I saw South Carolina favored by 9 at some places and by 7.5 at others. Can you explain that disparity and how the process works?
The first weekly college football point spreads will appear at one offshore sports book, BetOnline.ag. It is a sports book that puts these numbers up first and they will take smaller limits. They get a lot of publicity that way just putting it up with smaller limits and moving the numbers quickly. They don’t have a lot of risk. There is some reward because those are the numbers that people see popping up on the screen. It gets buzz on Twitter. BetOnline opened South Carolina as a 9-point favorite. When Vegas started posting, they come up later in the day, they went with 7.5, a little bit lower number. There are differences of opinions between offshore and Las Vegas. This one specific book offshore is doing this at lower limits and doing it for more marketing purposes than it is to be setting the line. Eventually, the bigger offshore books, there are bigger books that really are known to cater to the really big bettors, the sharp bettors. People say they have the sharpest clientele so when those books post their numbers, you really see the market kind of even out and everybody kind of follow their lead. Clearly the market has settled at 7.5 on this game. That seems to be the more appropriate number in this situation.
The last time the Gamecocks were favored in this series was 2013.
And it looks like South Carolina was a pretty good favorite. They were pretty good that year under (Steve) Spurrier if I recall. They were a 15.5-point favorite over Florida. I think that was the end of the (Will) Muschamp era when they were melting down. It’s been several years and they were even a bigger favorite. If you look at those programs back then, it’s kind of the same way it is now. South Carolina kind of an improving team; Florida kind of in disarray.
How do the odds makers deal with a team like Florida, where a head coach was fired, an interim took over last week and the wheels seem to be falling off?
You would have been shocked to see South Carolina not only favored but favored by more than a touchdown. Florida was about a 4-point underdog to Missouri last week and just got clocked. When I first saw that number I thought it was a little bit of an overreaction. I don’t think many of us think very much of Missouri. To see (Florida) get blown out by Missouri, I think Vegas is trying to react and make sure people are forced to lay a big number if they are going to bet against the Gators.