We are already in the penultimate week of the college football regular season. We wait all year for the season to begin and then it flies by in the blink of an eye. Thankfully, there's still plenty of drama in the last two weeks of the regular season. Then we get conference championship games, bowl season and the playoff. There's still some juice here.
Week 12 has plenty of intriguing games. Oklahoma slipped up last week and its playoff hopes are bleak. Another loss will kill them completely. Cincinnati faces its stiffest competition in nearly two months as they look to complete their undefeated season. Oregon is an underdog and Ohio State needs to get past Michigan State. What is the early week line movement at BetMGM telling us about these games?
Is it all over for Oklahoma?
Entering last weekend, Oklahoma was ranked eighth in the rankings but we all knew that if the Sooners ran the gauntlet of Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and then won the Big 12 championship game and finished the season an undefeated Power Five champion, they were getting into the playoffs.
Well, the Sooners were tripped up in the first part of that gauntlet and now they're ranked 13th in the latest rankings. We're not going to end their season completely because there's still a chance a one-loss conference champion can get in. It's definitely not likely, but there's a chance.
Oklahoma needs to dust itself off after the loss to Baylor and get right back into it if the Sooners want to maintain any hope of playing for the national championship. They opened as 6.5-point home favorites against Iowa State.
Currently, the Sooners are just 4-point favorites over the Cyclones.
What's the reason for the line movement? It's hard to say. Oklahoma has not looked impressive all season long and maybe bettors just think the Sooners aren't as good as public perception. Iowa State is a team that's rated highly by many models despite its pedestrian on-field results.
Maybe bettors are expecting a flat, uninspired performance from the Sooners after they lost last week. It's got to be an emotional drain. Whatever the reason, the Sooners are getting faded hard early this week.
The Notre Dame train keeps rolling
Speaking of the College Football Playoff, at this point we can't ignore a one-loss Notre Dame team sitting at the eighth spot. Alabama and Oregon will both be underdogs in games coming up. The Big Ten will likely beat each other up and leave at best one team standing. If Notre Dame takes care of business, it might just be in the picture when the dust settles. The Irish just need to win games. Doing so in an impressive fashion will only help.
Notre Dame opened as a 15.5-point favorite this week against Georgia Tech. Currently, the Fighting Irish are 17-point favorites.
Georgia Tech isn't very good, sitting with a 3-7 record with two of those wins being against Kennesaw State and Duke. However, it's been very competitive this season as six of its seven losses have been by 11 points or less.
We know Notre Dame has a large and passionate fanbase and this team has been playing well all season long, surpassing preseason expectations. Seventeen points feels like a lot in this spot, but style points will only help Notre Dame as it looks to squeeze into the playoff picture.
Slight love for Sparty
Sometimes I wish betting lines didn't cloud our brains. From a pure innocent college football fan perspective, the Michigan State-Ohio State looks like a hell of a top-10 matchup that could ultimately decide the Big Ten and which team heads to the playoff. Then you look at the betting line and realize the Buckeyes are a three-score favorite and suddenly the game feels less big.
Nevertheless, it's still a huge game. Upsets happen. The Buckeyes are currently 18.5-point favorites at The Horseshoe over Michigan State. This line is actually down a little from the opening number of 19.5 points.
Ohio State has been a tough team to figure out this season. When the Buckeyes offense plays like it did last week against Purdue, there's probably not a team in this country that can stop it. Maybe Georgia, but that's it. However, there's been plenty of games through this season where the offense feels flat. The Buckeyes might still put up points, but the unrealized potential is obvious.
If the Buckeyes offense is rolling, it'll be hard for Michigan State to keep up. Michigan State's best hope is to slow the game down and hope Kenneth Walker can run wild on this defense like Oregon did earlier this season. Early in the week, it seems like the market has some faith in Sparty to do just that.
We don't love Cincinnati anymore
Remember the outrage we felt when Cincinnati wasn't ranked in the top four of the playoff rankings when they first came out? It feels like that outrage has subsided quite a bit. What's changed for Cincinnati?
The Bearcats opened the season by covering the spread in five of their first six games. Their average spread was 19.5 points over those six games, and their average margin of victory was 29.8 points. Cincinnati was dominating teams and it was a moneymaking machine.
Since then, Cincinnati has failed to cover the spread in four straight games. The average spread over those four games has been 25.8 points, but Cincinnati's average margin of victory has been just 12.8 points. In fact, if you've held a Cincinnati ticket over the last four weeks, you've never even really had a chance.
Cincinnati faces its biggest remaining regular season challenge this weekend when it plays SMU. The Bearcats are 11.5-point favorites over the Mustangs. This line opened at 13-points, which suggests bettors either no longer believe as much in Cincinnati or they're simply sick of losing money with them.
We have games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. Here are some notable line movements for those games:
Massive movement on both sides for the Central Michigan-Ball State game. The total has dropped 3 points from the opener and sits at just 59.5 points. More notably, the favorite has flipped. Ball State opened as a 2.5-point favorite, but now Central Michigan is laying 1.5 points as a favorite.
Another MACtion game, another steam move towards the under. Do these people not know about MACtion? The Northern Illinois-Buffalo total sits at 61 points after opening at 65 points.
For Friday, Louisiana Tech is now just a 15.5-point favorite over Southern Mississippi. The line opened with LA Tech as an 18-point favorite.
Also on Friday, Houston is now just an 8.5-point favorite against Memphis. The line opened with the Cougars laying double digits.