In what is usually one of my favorite days of the summer, Sportsbook released their "Games of the Year" odds for the 2008 season. Think of it as Vegas' preseason poll, only much better than any other preseason poll because (1) any error in judgment will cost them millions of dollars, and (2) they don't have the opportunity to change these much without taking substantial risk through 'middle' exposure.
Penn State had five lines on the list:
Penn State -8.5 vs Illinois
Penn State +3.5 vs Wisconsin
Penn State -9 vs Michigan
Penn State +11 vs Ohio State
Penn State -8 vs Michigan State
There are a couple of things that stand out. For starters, Vegas is not hot on a Mendenhalless Illinois (and neither am I). A home game is typically worth about three points, but because it's Madison and because it's at night, a shift of 3.5 is not unreasonable. As a result, Vegas sees Penn State and Wisconsin as (roughly) a neutral field pick. The Michigan and Michigan State lines sound about right. Neither team is expected to make much noise at the top, however both squads are talented enough to win games they shouldn't.
What is really too bad is the Ohio State spread. Eleven is very big, especially considering Penn State is picked as the second or third best team in the conference. There is a lot of Ohio State hype this offseason, but unfortunately it appears to be at least somewhat warranted.
Oregon State had two lines released:
Oregon State -1 vs Oregon
Oregon State +11.5 vs Southern Cal
Not much here because the USC line is so big and Oregon is hard to judge now that they are faced with replacing Dixon. Regardless, neither line is especially surprising.
Around the Big Ten:
Southern Cal -5.5 vs Ohio State
Wisconsin -3 at Fresno State
Notre Dame -3.5 vs Michigan
Ohio State -4.5 at Wisconsin
The OSU at USC line started leaking out last week around 3.5. The move isn't really encouraging. While the home field shift is probably a little stronger in this game, this matchup represents a fairly big contest for the conference. To make things worse, the Wisconsin game is a total trap at -3, meaning an upset looks even more likely than I previously thought. If the Big Ten loses both of those games we are looking at nuclear war type fall out from the MSM.
The Notre Dame-Michigan game is a bit of a toss up, ad Irish due to home field. The national championship odds were released curiously high for RichRod's new team, so seeing them dogs to Notre Dame brings some balance back into the betting world.