We chatted with the best sports gambling reporter in the business, ESPN's David Purdum, to check the current Las Vegas odds, stats and trends, plus his opinions on the upcoming college football season. Remember, Purdum is an ESPN reporter who covers the ins-and-outs of the industry and is a recreational bettor, not a sharp bettor who is putting big time money on games. Also, these odds are coming from Las Vegas casinos, which do not have as many prop bets as off-shore sportsbooks, such as Bovada.
Nevada sportsbooks have never had a losing September in neither the NFL or college football since gaming control began tracking sports betting in 1988. Take these trends and odds with a grain of salt, as the casinos always win.
Here are Purdum's takes on Ohio State, the Big Ten and the rest of college football:
Land-Grant Holy Land: We have seen quite the line movement (due to injury & suspensions) for the Ohio State-Virginia Tech game. Where is the money going right now and where do you think the line will close?
David Purdum: Out of the books I spoke with this week, it was a pretty evenly bet game. Of course, it's early, and the bulk of the bets will come in over the weekend and on game day. The line looks to be sitting at Ohio State -14 as of Thursday night. I think the books know that they can get money from sophisticated players if they go to -14.5, so I think they'd rather take public (novice and recreational) action at -14 than sharp (professional) action at +14.
Land-Grant Holy Land: What is your favorite Urban Meyer betting trend? Although it is a trend, which one always seems to come through?
Purdum: Without question, it is Meyer's record against the spread with more than a week to prepare. Meyer is 35-9 against the spread for his career. That includes season openers, where he's 7-3 ATS, so it's going to be very difficult for me to go against him on Monday night versus Virginia Tech.
Land-Grant Holy Land: What are the current odds for the Buckeyes to win the national title? How heavily are they being bet?
Purdum: Buckeyes are consensus favorites at around 5-2. At the Westgate SuperBook, they are No. 1 in number of bets (1,000-plus) and amount of money in the book's odds to win the national championship.
Land-Grant Holy Land: With Ezekiel Elliott and the two quarterbacks as top 5 Heisman favorites, do you think that it would be smart to bet on a Buckeye, or do you think they will cannibalize each other?
Purdum: Personally, I will sometimes bet the Heisman during the season, after a player's stats stand out, kind of like Robert Griffin III a few years ago. There was a time when a few weeks into the season where he had more touchdowns than incompletions. So I bet him. Normally, though, I don't make a Heisman pick preseason, including on any of the trio of Buckeye candidates. Remember, Las Vegas sportsbooks do not offer betting on the Heisman. Only offshore sportsbooks.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Do you think that Ohio State will finish the regular season as double digit favorites in every game?
Purdum: I'll say yes, as of Thursday night, they are double-digit favorites in every game.
Land-Grant Holy Land: After Elliott and the two Ohio State quarterbacks, who is the next player from the Big Ten on the Heisman list? What are his odds?
Purdum: Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook. Looks like he's 25/1.
Land-Grant Holy Land: What are some trends from Jim Harbaugh that stick out from his college coaching days? What are Michigan's current odds to win the Big Ten?
Purdum: Harbaugh went 28-21 ATS at Stanford. Combine that with tenure with the 49ers, and he has covered the spread in 58 percent of his games as head coach in FBS and NFL. Michigan is 15-1 to win the Big Ten, tied with Nebraska and behind only Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Is there a prop for the Big Ten to win the title game? If so, what is it?
Purdum: The Big Ten is +180 to produce the national champion, followed by SEC (2-1), Big 12 (11-5) and Pac 12 (4-1).
Land-Grant Holy Land: Is there a specific trend that sticks out from any B1G coach or team?
Purdum: Since 2003, Kirk Ferentz is fantastic ATS after a straight-up loss, he is 31-19-2 ATS.
Land-Grant Holy Land: After the Buckeyes, which teams are getting the most action from bettors to win the national title?
Top 5 teams by money wagered to win national title at Westgate SuperBook:
1. Ohio State
5. Notre Dame
Land-Grant Holy Land: What are some of your favorite nation-wide coaching trends?
Purdum: Two of them: Hawaii coach Norm Chow has been an underdog 31 times. He has won only twice. Also, Bill Snyder, since returning to Kansas State in 2009, is 37-14-1 ATS in Big 12 play.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Which middle-of-the-pack teams have gotten some love in Vegas to win the national title?
Purdum: There has been some big bets in Vegas on both Stanford and Boise State to win the national title. One bettor put $3,000 on Stanford at 100-1, which would cash for $300,000.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Who is current Heisman favorite and which player not in the top-5 do you think has a chance to take home the trophy?
Purdum: It looks like Trevon Boykin and Elliot are co-favorites at 5-1. Leonard Fournette at 12-1 seems tempting, but you almost have to take a QB, right?
Land-Grant Holy Land: Give me your national champion and Heisman bets
Purdum: I will take a flyer on Ole Miss at 40-1 for the national title. The Rebels have more NFL Draft prospects than any other team, according to the ESPN rankings I broke down by school. And, I guess I'll take a stab at USC QB Cody Kessler for Heisman. I feel like the Trojans will put up big numbers.
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Check out Purdum's most recent blog which is the ultimate college football betting guide and features hundreds of betting trends and nuggets. Follow him at @DavidPurdum on Twitter for all of the latest happenings in Las Vegas.