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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

June 18, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Some Pac-12 football betting lines, if you simply can’t wait . . .

If you could dash out and lay down a bundle of cash — today — on a college-football game that’s three months away, would you do it? Well, it’s possible, if you’re somewhere near the Golden Nugget Casinos in Nevada.

This week, the Golden Nugget let fly with college lines on 200-plus football games. It must be profitable, or the casino wouldn’t be doing it.

Understand, in most casinos, you can’t bet on a college game until sometime the previous Sunday. That’s a day after Saturday’s games are in, more information is available, more known to the guys setting the odds.

Well, there’s obviously a lot about these 200 games that the Golden Nugget doesn’t know yet, nor you nor I. But they’re out there to be gambled on, and I suspect the profit margin for the casino is supported somewhat like those futures bets you make for your team to win the American League West or to capture the NFC title. They’re bets of the heart more than wise investments. That’s just my guess.

I figure there are two ways to look at the Golden Nugget’s lines. On one hand, they’re great opportunities, because so much of odds early in the season is based on public perceptions formed from a year ago, and a lot of things change in a year. Teams that went 4-8 will go 8-4. So if you’ve got solid information on the probable arc of a team for 2014, you’ve got a potential advantage.

On the other hand . . . as a bettor, you’d like to have every single bit of intelligence at your disposal when wagering. Like, you know, who the starting quarterback is. If, for instance, you’re an Oregon fan and you’re intrigued by one of the Golden Nugget’s lines, you’d surely like to know Marcus Mariota is piloting your team and not whoever might end up as his backup.

If you’re a Cal fan, can you imagine the difference in how you might have regarded your team’s chances in a 2013 game at this time last year, compared to when the Bears were injury-ravaged, scheme-challenged and demoralized a few months later?

That said, a few observations about the spreads, with the games involving Pac-12 teams listed here:

* Oregon seems to be getting a lot of love from the linesmakers, maybe too much. But they always like a team that puts up big points, and quickly.

* Arizona State, a team that lost nine defensive starters from 2013, also seems inflated. How could the Sun Devils be a seven-point favorite over visiting UCLA, the Pac-12 South favorite, on Sept. 25?

* Stanford isn’t getting a lot of ride in these numbers (although having said that, it’s also true, like ASU, that the Cardinal lost a ton of defensive playmakers from 2013). For instance, Stanford is a 10-point underdog in the game at Oregon Nov. 1, and we all know how the Cardinal have caused the Ducks problems the past two years. Two weeks earlier, it’s a 6.5-point favorite at Arizona State, a team Stanford has recently dominated.

* UCLA, a team that’s been talked about as having playoff (top four) potential, seems underappreciated. Not only is it an underdog to Arizona State (I wonder if that line might be reversed), but it’s also one at home to Oregon. Remember, the Bruins were tied 14-14 in the third quarter in Eugene last year, with a young, jerry-rigged offensive line.

* Doesn’t seem to me that either Washington or Washington State gets much respect in these numbers. Washington is an underdog at Arizona, and a 20-point ‘dog going to Eugene to try to break a decade-long losing streak to the Ducks. Oregon is favored by 23 in Pullman. Seems like a ton to me (especially since Mike Leach doesn’t put his backup quarterback in the game when it’s out of reach).

Friday, Aug. 29

UNLV at Arizona minus 23.5

Saturday, Aug. 30

Cal at Northwestern minus 9.5

UCLA minus 21.5 at Virginia

Saturday, Sept. 6

USC at Stanford minus 3.5

Michigan State at Oregon minus 13

Saturday, Sept. 13

USC minus 23 at Boston College

UCLA minus 8 vs. Texas (at Arlington, Texas)

Saturday, Sept. 20

San Diego State at Oregon State minus 13

Oregon minus 23 at Washington State

Thursday, Sept. 25

UCLA at Arizona State minus 7

Saturday, Sept. 27

Oregon State at USC minus 17

Thursday, Oct. 2

Arizona at Oregon minus 25

Saturday, Oct. 4

Arizona State at USC minus 11

Stanford minus 6 at Notre Dame

Saturday, Oct. 11

USC minus 7.5 at Arizona

Oregon minus 3 at UCLA

Saturday, Oct. 18

Stanford minus 6.5 at Arizona State

UCLA minus 22 at Cal

Washington at Oregon minus 20

Friday, Oct. 24

Oregon minus 34 at Cal

Saturday, Oct. 25

Oregon State at Stanford minus 13

USC minus 10 at Utah

Arizona State at Washington minus 6

Saturday, Nov. 1

Arizona at UCLA minus 14

Stanford at Oregon minus 10

Saturday, Nov. 8

Notre Dame at Arizona State minus 4.5

Oregon minus 20 at Utah

UCLA minus 3.5 at Washington

Thursday, Nov. 13

Cal at USC minus 34

Saturday, Nov. 15

Washington at Arizona minus 5

Utah at Stanford minus 14

Arizona State minus 2 at Oregon State

Saturday, Nov. 22

Stanford minus 17 at Cal

USC at UCLA minus 4.5

Arizona at Utah minus 2

Friday, Nov. 28

Arizona State minus 1 at Arizona

Stanford at UCLA minus 3

Saturday, Nov. 29

BYU minus 11 at Cal

Notre Dame at USC minus 10

Oregon minus 13 at Oregon State

Washington minus 4.5 at WSU

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