12/07/2004 12:00AM

Money moves many college bowl lines


In the fall and early winter, Monday afternoons are usually not a hopping time at the Stardust sports book.

Except for some bettors getting down their action on Monday night's NFL game, it's usually quiet time as most of the early football betting for the week has already taken place on Sunday night and early Monday morning.

But, after putting up lines on only the four BCS bowls on Sunday night, this Monday was much different, as the Stardust posted its openers for the rest of the college bowl games at 1:45 p.m.

Over the next two hours, there was enough money bet to move the lines on 13 of the 26 games that were available (the Fort Worth Bowl with Marshall vs. Cincinnati and the Motor City Bowl with Toledo vs. UConn were off the board due to player injuries).

The biggest line movement (see chart) came in the Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl, as Louisville opened as a 10-point favorite over Boise St. and was bet all the way to -13 1/2.

The only other game that was adjusted by more than half a point off its opening point spread was the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl, as Utah was bet from a 15-point favorite over Pittsburgh to -16 1/2.

In all, eight favorites took more money compared to just five underdogs.

In totals wagering, there were 12 games bet off their opening number - 10 of them bet to the over and only two bet to the under.

Again, the Liberty Bowl had the biggest movement, as the total between the two high-scoring teams opened at 78 (highest on the board) and was bet up to 82, a major move of four full points.

The over in the Memphis-Bowling Green matchup in the Dec. 22 GMAC Bowl was moved 2 1/2 points, from 68 1/2 to 71, while the Ohio St.-Oklahoma St. matchup in the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl went from 47 1/2 to 49. All other adjusted totals were changed by exactly one point, except the Syracuse-Georgia Tech matchup in the Dec. 21 Champs Sports Bowl, which was the biggest-moving under, going from 46 to 43 1/2.

The lowest total on the board, however, was in the Wisconsin-Georgia game in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl. That opened and held steady at 41.

More college bowl betting info

Most of the bowls are fairly competitive, with only four games looking as if they will have double-digit spreads: UCLA -12 1/2 vs. Wyoming in the Dec. 23 Las Vegas Bowl, California -12 vs. Texas Tech in the Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl, Louisville -13 1/2 vs. Boise St. in the Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl, and Utah -16 1/2 vs. Pitt in the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl.

* The spread on at least 10 games will be a field goal or less.

* The most competitively priced line is pick-'em in the Troy-Northern Illinois matchup in the Dec. 30 Silicon Valley Bowl.

* Of local interest, Oregon St. is a 3-point favorite over New Mexico in the Las Vegas Bowl, which this year will be at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve; it was played on Christmas Day the past two years.

* Last year, I pointed out that Big 10 teams were underdogs in five of six bowls. That's true again this year, as Purdue -8 1/2 over Arizona St. in the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl is the only Big 10 team favored in any bowl game.

* The Pac-10 has five teams in bowl games, and each is favored except Arizona St. vs. Purdue.

* The ACC is favored in five of the six games its teams play, with league champ Virginia Tech the lone exception, in the Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl vs. undefeated Auburn.

NFL betting trends

Favorites continued their recent hot run, going 10-5-1 against the spread this past weekend. They are now a combined 30-16-2 (65 percent) over the past three weeks to take a slight 94-90-1 (51 percent) lead for the season.

Home teams, which had been struggling lately, won the week 8-7-1, but road teams still have a spread record of 98-87-7 (53 percent) on the year.

As a subset of each of the above, road favorites went 4-2 and now lead home dogs by a 34-27-2 (56 percent) margin. I've been waiting for this trend to even out, but it hasn't happened yet. This week's home dogs are the Texans +10 1/2 vs. the Colts and the Eagles +9 1/2 vs. the Redskins. Of course, playing those dogs would entail going against two of the NFL's hottest teams.

Double-digit underdogs went 1-2 last week to drop to 6-5-1 against the spread with only one outright upset (Raiders over Broncos two weeks ago). There are a surprisingly high number of big spreads this week - the Bengals +11 vs. the Patriots, Browns +10 1/2 vs. the Bills, Texans +10 1/2 vs. the Colts, and Dolphins +11 vs. the Broncos. In addition, there are three teams getting 9 1/2 points (Giants vs. Ravens, Lions vs. Packers, and Skins vs. Eagles), and those could get bet to double digits.

In totals wagering, even though inclement weather is showing up in some games, the over went 10-6. It's nearly a dead heat on the season as the under holds a slight edge, 95-94-3.

There were no interconference games last week, and the AFC leads the NFC 31-16-1 (66 percent). There are four interconference games this week, the AFC teams being the Ravens -9 1/2 vs. the Giants, Raiders +7 1/2 vs. the Falcons, Jaguars -7 vs. the Bears, and Chargers -5 1/2 vs. the Buccaneers.

Who's hot, who's not

After covering the spread in eight consecutive games, the Chargers finally failed to cover Sunday, but they still got a push in their 20-17 win over the Broncos. They are now tied with the Patriots, who have covered five straight since their loss to the Steelers, for the league's top spread mark at 9-1-2. The Eagles, who have covered four in a row, are 9-3, followed closely by the Colts, also coverers of four in a row, at 8-3-1. The Ravens dropped to 8-4 with their loss to the Bengals, and the Steelers, who keep winning on the scoreboard, failed to cover for the second consecutive week to fall to 7-4-1. The Panthers are only 7-5 on the season, but they have covered four games in a row.

After taking sole possession of the worst spread record a week ago, the Chiefs beat the Raiders and are now 4-8 - along with the Dolphins, Saints, Raiders, Browns, Seahawks, Rams, and Titans. The Giants are 5-7 on the season, but they hold the league's longest spread losing streak, at five.

In totals wagering, the Colts are 9-3 with the over after going over with the Titans in a 51-24 victory. The two teams matched the inflated total of 55 by halftime. The Rams, despite going under in their game Sunday, are 8-4 with the over - along with the Raiders, Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks. The Cowboys and Seahawks went over in Dallas's wild 43-39 victory Monday night.

The Redskins finally had an over as they scored more than 18 points for the first time this season in a 31-7 win over the Giants (the total closed at 33). The Skins are now 9-3 with the under, as are the Jaguars and Falcons.