Josh Kendall

What Vegas Thinks: Oddsmakers scrambling after suspension of Missouri QB

Missouri Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk (7)
Missouri Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk (7) USA TODAY Sports

David Purdum of ESPN Chalk joins us again this week for one of the most interesting games of the season from a gambling perspective.

South Carolina and Missouri will play on Saturday at noon, and the Tuesday night news that Tigers starting quarterback Maty Mauk has been suspended has left oddsmakers trying to figure out how to handle this game.

Question: Missouri was favored by four prior to Mauk’s suspension, but the line is on the move now, isn’t it?

Answer: Some books still have it up as high as 4, so maybe some books are impressed with how (Missouri backup quarterback) Drew Lock has played, but other books have it down as low as 1 to 2.5. People are kind of scrambling trying to get a grasp on this. It looks like the majority of the oddsmakers and the betting market at this point don’t think that the drop-off from Mauk to the backup is that significant.

Question: A lot of Missouri people seem to think, ‘Finally, we’ve been wanting Drew Lock to play all season anyway.’ How aware do oddsmakers have to be of who the next guy up is at a key position like quarterback so that when there is a change like this, they can react quickly enough?

Answer: They are very tuned in. They have consultants that will provide them with consistent injury updates, whether it comes from The State or it comes from over in Columbia, Mo. These guys are monitoring all this information and watching it very carefully. It’s very difficult though to quantify it. We may know that this guy is suspended and the backup is coming in, but what is the point difference to the spread with the backup coming in? That is debatable and very hard to quantify and a lot of times the betting market after the odds are posted will do a better job of gauging the value.

Question: The Alabama vs. Georgia game could be historic before it even kicks off, if it snaps a streak for the Crimson Tide being favored, right?

Answer: Seventy-two games in a row, dating back to the 2009 SEC Championship Game, Alabama has been favored. Now they are the underdog, about a 2-point underdog right now. That line got all the way up as high as 2.5 after opening at 1.5. It has settled right at 2 right now. I talked to a couple oddsmakers who told me they wouldn’t be surprised if some larger money comes in on Alabama and maybe possibly they end up as the favorite before the game kicks off. That would kill all our story lines about the ending of the streak.

Question: And, how about that game in the Upstate, Notre Dame at Clemson?

Answer: That’s another line that has gone all over the place. You can find it right now where Notre Dame is favored by 1 at a couple books. Clemson is favored by 1 at some other books. It opened at Clemson minus-2. The stat that kind of stands out to me on that is, according to ESPN’s draft guy Todd McShay, Notre Dame has 13 NFL Draft-eligible prospects. Clemson only has five. There is more talent on Notre Dame. That’s a really good game.

Question: What lines do you like this week?

Answer: I just now talked about it. I like Notre Dame. They’re the more talented team. I think Brian Kelly is a great coach. I think he outcoaches Dabo a little bit in this game. I like Notre Dame. I’m going to try to grab one or two points out of it, but that’s where I am leaning right now. Another one that is interesting to me is Arkansas-Tennessee. That line is at 6.5. Tennessee is favored. That’s a lot of points to me for a team that has now suffered two deflating losses. Arkansas is kind of in the same boat. I want to believe Tennessee is turning the corner, but how do you respond from such a devastating loss to Florida? I like the Razorbacks.