We chatted with one of the best sports gambling reporter in the business, ESPN's David Purdum, to check the current Las Vegas odds, stats and trends, plus get 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 Ohio State/Oklahoma open at 9.5 and it has now settled around a touchdown. Where is the money going and why the spread drop?
David Purdum: The line simply opened too high. Even the oddsmaker at the South Point Casino who posted the opener acknowledges that now, but his reasoning is understandable. He believes Ohio State, because of its abundance of new personnel, will be a way better team in November than it will in September. He wouldn’t have made that opener 9.5, if the game were in November.
The early money came in on the Buckeyes, but limits on these early lines are relatively small, and bookmakers are more apt to move lines quickly in June, July and August than they will be in the days leading up to kickoff.
We’ll really find out what the market thinks this point spread should be in a few weeks.
Land-Grant Holy Land: What is your favorite Urban Meyer or Ohio State betting trend?
Purdum: I’ve got two and they’re doozies:
1) For his career, Meyer is 37-9 against the spread with more than one week to prepare, including 8-3 ATS in season openers.
2) Meyer is 19-5 ATS as an underdog.
Land-Grant Holy Land: What are the current odds for the Buckeyes to win the national title? How heavily are they being bet?
Purdum: Ohio State is 8-1 to win the national championship at the Westgate SuperBook. The Buckeyes may be a little lower or higher at other shops, but they are among the top tier of favorites, along with consensus favorite Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Florida State and LSU.
Only Michigan has attracted more bets than Ohio State to win the national championship at the Westgate.
Land-Grant Holy Land: What are J.T. Barrett's current Heisman odds? Is Vegas seeing some money coming in on the former Big Ten Offensive POY?
Purdum: Barrett is 12-1 to win the Heisman at the SuperBook. There has been no movement on Barrett’s odds.
Land-Grant Holy Land: After the Oklahoma game, do you think the Buckeyes will be favored in every other game this year?
Purdum: Yes. They are currently 5-point favorites over Michigan. It would take some unexpected developments during the season to flip that line. Road games at Wisconsin and at Michigan State are other possibilities. Maybe Wisconsin upsets LSU and Ohio State looks bad against Oklahoma? Maybe the Buckeyes would be dogs to the Badgers in that scenario?
One veteran Vegas oddsmaker said, to start the season, Ohio State is power-ranked higher than every team on its schedule, including Oklahoma.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Who are the top three favorites (in order) to win the Big Ten East and Big Ten West?
Purdum: The books normally don’t break up their odds by division. Ohio State, at 6-5, and Michigan, at 7-5, are the clear-cut favorites to win the Big Ten. Nebraska (7-1) and Iowa (7-1) have the best odds out of the West.
Sidenote: Purdue and Rutgers are listed at 500-1 to win the conference. Those are the worst conference title odds of any team in the nation.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Besides Barrett, which players from the Big Ten are on the Heisman Trophy betting list?
Purdum: Only two at the SuperBook -- Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers (80-1) and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley (80-1).
Land-Grant Holy Land: What are some trends from Jim Harbaugh that stick out from his college coaching days and last year?
Purdum: There’s nothing overly exceptional, but he’s solid, especially at home and as a favorite. He is 20-13 ATS at home and 22-12 ATS as a favorite.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Is there a specific or favorite trend that sticks out from any B1G coach or team?
Purdum: Under coach Kevin Wilson, 69.4 percent of Indiana’s games have gone over the total (41-18-1). The Hoosiers went 10-2-1 over/under last season.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Who is getting the most action from bettors to win the national title?
Purdum: Michigan has been the most popular bet to win the national title. LSU is another popular team, along with Florida State.
Land-Grant Holy Land: What is your favorite national coaching trend?
Purdum: Since returning to Kansas State in 2009, Bill Snyder is 42-18-1 against the spread in Big 12 play.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Who is current Heisman favorite and which player not in the top-5 would you think represents good value?
Purdum: Clemson QB Deshaun Watson is the favorite at 9-2, followed by LSU running back Leonard Fournette (5-1) and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (5-1).
Houston QB Greg Ward, at 50-1, is intriguing. He has a big showcase opener against Oklahoma and will put up big numbers in Tom Herman’s system throughout the season.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Give me your national champion and Heisman bets.
Purdum: I grabbed Clemson at 8-1. I feel like this is a program that is peaking in talent. Plus, I’ll have a hedge opportunity with the Florida State game.
Land-Grant Holy Land: If you were to give one piece of advice to bettors heading into the season, what would it be?
Purdum: I’m going to give three, because I think all three are really imporant:
1) Bet the smallest amount per game that your book allows. You should be only betting 2-5 percent of your bankroll on any game. So if you have $500 to play with for the season, your bets should be $10 to $25 per game. If you keep to that size of bets, it’s unlikely that you’ll blow through your bankroll.
2) You are not a professional gambler. There was a study in Australia of the accounts at a major bookmaker. Out of 500,000 accounts, only 50 were found to be profitable. Betting for 99.9 percent of us should be looked at as a form of recreation that comes with risks. Approaching it any other way is a bad bet.
3) Do not buy picks. It is difficult enough to win on your own. The added costs of buying picks make it near impossible. Learn to handicap on your own. Do it with your buddies over beer at the bar. Do it for fun.