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Vegas Knows Best Can't Tell Akron and Syracuse Apart

Don't be fooled, it's not another MAC team. Penn State's line against Syracuse this week opened with them as a 28-point favorite with the over/under set at 53.  Then a funny thing happened: the line started moving up while the total went down.  That's confidence, especially when you consider there seems to be a public slant towards the Orange.

Despite Penn State not covering last week, and Syracuse almost winning (!), the line will settle on Friday just a half point lower than Penn State’s projected margin of victory against Akron.

It’s not very often Vegas entices people to bet against a mass-marketed team like Penn State, especially when playing a squad that has been ranked in the 100s offensively for four years going.  This is a good sign for Saturday, but an even better one if it’s based on Penn State being undervalued and not simply exploiting an overreaction to Syracuse’s near miss against the Gophers.

But what about Minnesota, maybe they just suck?  Maybe.  They face Air Force this weekend; a team picked to finish a very distant fourth place in the MWC.  They also racked up the largest margin of victory in week one, which earned them at least one first pLOLace vote.  The line: just three and a half points, which is basically the home field advantage bump.  Vegas thinks Minnesota is a middle of the road MWC team, which isn’t a good sign of you’re the kind of guy that writes your sentences in all caps.

GO FIGHT PRIDE WIN.  Speaking of teams you don't want to root for (but will anyway), it’s a tougher week two and one that could backfire quickly for the Big Ten. 

Purdue is a heavy dog to Oregon despite the deflation of The Punch. Indiana is somehow favored by 1.5 points against last week’s Wolverine meat, but I don’t see how they could possible win that game. 

Speaking of the Wolverines, their annual showdown with Notre Dame has new life, with the winning fanbase granted permission to declare demons exercised and a national championship probable.  A flu kicked in pretty heavy on me during the 3:30 starts last week, so I don’t have much to add to the Notre Dame -3.5 line.  I suspect a close game so long as the Wolverines can improve on the six turnovers they had in this matchup last year.

ISU didn’t exactly blow away their 1-AA cupcake last week either, but are still only a 6.5 point dog to Go Ahead Take One More Shot We Don’t Mind Iowa.  If Iowa wants to be ranked again this season I hope they can triple that.

And of course the Game of the Century.  Ohio State stands as a touchdown underdog to USC, and that has to be disappointing for Buckeye fans that were ready for revenge.

Compare that to last year: USC was a 10-point favorite in LA.  Adjusted for home field (the full swing of the move is around 6 points) and you actually have a much worse outlook for the Buckeyes.  Upsetting when you consider:

  • Almost the entire Pete Carroll defense was drafted last year and needs replaced
  • USC is replacing the 5th overall pick in the draft with a true freshman quarterback
  • Ohio State has the 4th best player in the nation under center (O RLY?)

So. We saw hints of this last week with way-too-close wins against proverbial cupcakes.  The competition steps up slightly for the most part and Vegas gets much more pessimistic about a conference that is playing increasingly flabby in the middle.