Buffs Continue to Attract Sharp Money, But Why?

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Coming off a 26-3 loss to Cal, it can be stated, in no uncertain terms, that the University of Colorado football team is objectively awful.

The 2-5 Buffaloes managed only 35 yards on the ground and didn’t fare much better through the air, with freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis throwing for only 69 yards. It was as though they were playing Oregon’s mighty Ducks instead of the lowly Golden Bears.

Well, guess what? This week, the Buffs actually get to travel to Eugene to take on the No. 7 ranked Ducks, where they are consensus 24-point underdogs at Colorado’s mobile sportsbooks. That’s the number the SuperBook, Betfred, and SI Sportsbook are using, while WynnBET posted a 23.5-point spread on Thursday and MaximBet pegged it at 24.5.

The consensus over/under is 49, with MaximBet a slight outlier at 49.5, and supreme optimists can take a Buffs upset on the moneyline at anywhere from +1200 at WynnBET to +1600 at SI Sportsbook. But PointsBet is so confident in an Oregon victory that it was offering no moneyline action on the game as of Thursday.

Which makes one wonder: Why is the spread so low?

That’s an odd question to ask about a 24-point spread, but not so peculiar when you consider the line opened at 26.5 and got swiftly bet down.

‘I don’t know why they’re intrigued by this team’

“Colorado is a pretty interesting team in the betting world because they seem to get support from the sharps,” said Jay Kornegay, executive vice president of sportsbook operations for the SuperBook. “I don’t know why they’re intrigued by this team, but more often than not, [sharp money]  seems to be on the Buffaloes’ side.”

This year, the sharp money that’s flowed Colorado’s way has “not [fared]  very well,” said Kornegay. But as for this particular matchup with Oregon, at least there’s a discernible angle: Only once, in a 48-7 win over Stony Brook, have the Ducks thumped an opponent by more than 24 points this season, with four of their remaining five wins coming by a touchdown or less.

“Oregon is not the same Oregon that we were used to during their heyday,” explained Kornegay. “They don’t run up the score like they used to. They backtracked a little bit. Back then, a lot of people were getting style points. 56-6 was more impressive than 36-6 for those that were voting on it. 

“They definitely ran up the score in years past. I think they have opportunities to run up the score, but they just don’t do it. Getting 26.5 points is attractive to some of these sharps.”

Late CSU-Boise start good for handle

The football team at Kornegay’s alma mater, Colorado State, faces Boise State at home on Saturday. The 5 p.m. start should bolster the handle for the tilt, which pits a pair of 3-4 Mountain West teams coming off hard-luck losses to Utah State and Air Force, respectively.

“It’s a later start, so that’s helpful for the public play,” said Kornegay. “That Michigan-Michigan State game [which kicks off at noon ET]could be a great game handle-wise, but because it’s so early, that takes it away. Later starts mean more handle.”

Despite playing on the road in the midst of a down season, Boise State is a consensus 2.5-point favorite over the Rams, with WynnBET pinning the spread at 3. The o/u at all books is 51.5, with very little variance on the moneyline (between +115 and +120 for an outright CSU win).

But Kornegay sees two teams heading in opposite directions, which could bode well for Rams backers.

“All you ask is for them to get better and better, and certainly the Rams have done that,” said Kornegay. “Their quarterback play and their rushing game is getting better each and every week.” 

As for the smurf-turfin’ Broncos, Kornegay said, “Boise’s not the same team that we’re used to. They can’t run, they’re having terrible QB play, and their defense is average.”

Why don’t you tell us how you really feel, Jay?

Mike Seely has written about horse racing for The Daily Racing Form and America’s Best Racing, and has contributed pieces on a multitude of topics to The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He can be reached on Twitter (@mdseely) or via email at mseely@bettercollective.com.

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