Josh Kendall

What Vegas Thinks: USC-Kentucky line, shifting odds for Gamecocks

USC tight end Jerell Adams (89) gets an earful from head coach Steve Spurrier in the first half Thursday of the Belk College Kickoff in Charlotte, NC.
USC tight end Jerell Adams (89) gets an earful from head coach Steve Spurrier in the first half Thursday of the Belk College Kickoff in Charlotte, NC.

David Purdum of ESPN Chalk joined us again this week to talk about the South Carolina-Kentucky game, how last week’s opening win affected the Gamecocks’ odds to win the national title and my “Lock of the Week.”

The Gamecocks went from a 300-to-1 shot to win the national title to a 200-to-1 shot after beating North Carolina 17-13. Why the big jump?

It’s kind of weird because a jump from 300 down to 200 is not nearly as big as say, a jump from 20 to 10 or 20 to 15. When the odds are that high, they will move in increments like that. It may seem like, ‘Wow, that got cut by one-third,’ but it’s just not as significant of a move as you might think. Sports books are very wary of those higher-odds teams that win a game or two. They can’t be having a team out there that gets on a run that is 300 or 500-to-1 because that’s too much liability.

This week, Kentucky comes to town after a wacky game last year in which the Wildcats won 45-38. Las Vegas expects South Carolina to get revenge this year and has made them fairly big favorites.

Yeah, it’s 7 to 7.5. The Wynn goes up with the weekly college football odds. They are the first Vegas book. They go up about 6 p.m. Eastern time on Sundays. They will be the first one. I think limits are like $5,000. They went up and it was 8.5 points for South Carolina. It dropped down to 8 and then to 7.5 and possibly down to 7 at some places. So what you are seeing is that the early money is on Kentucky and it has moved it down a little bit. These early lines early in the week the limits are low. About Thursday, you will see books going up to full limits, where it will be $20,000 and maybe even a $50,000 on certain games. That’s when the really sharp players come in. They don’t play early because they can’t get big limits. They will wait until the limits go up and then react.

What kind of movement have you seen in South Carolina’s future lines?

South Carolina is a 12.5-point underdog at Georgia in a couple weeks, they are a 6.5-point home underdog against LSU and then their rivalry game at the end they are a 4-point underdog to Clemson.

So if you’re a believer in the Gamecocks and think they will get better, now’s the time to bet those games before the line shrinks, right?

Yes, absolutely. Does the UGA game get up to 14? Probably not, so that 12.5 is probably an early one to grab.

We will end up with what I am optimistically going to call my “lock of the week.” I have announced my intention to “bet” at least one game a week. I started with a $500 pot and last week took BYU plus-7 against Nebraska for $25. The Cougars covered (winning on a Hail Mary on the final play of the game, in fact), so where do I stand?

You should have bet more to cover the vig or the 10 percent (commission). So you’re bankroll now would be $522.50. You should be betting 2 to 5 percent of your bankroll. There is a theory for that, it’s called the Kelly criterion, and it has determined that this is the best way.

So looking ahead, is there a number you like this week?

I wish I could say no, but I will throw something out there. I like Oklahoma (in a pick ’em game at Tennessee). Tennessee has not played this type of game in quite a while. I really like Butch Jones, he’s a great coach. I just don’t know. Tennessee got really banged up in August. The secondary last week against Bowling Green gave up like 400 yards passing. Now you’ve got Oklahoma coming in with their Air Raid offense, new offensive coordinator, new quarterback. If I had to do it, I’d take the Sooners. I think Oklahoma opened at 1, went to pick and at some places Tennessee is favored.