There are three college football matchups Friday, but one game is getting more than twice the betting action of the other two games combined.
Not surprisingly, fans and bettors have focused their handicapping attention on a Top 25 battle between the Michigan State Spartans and the Boise State Broncos (Friday night, 8 pm Eastern, ESPN).
"We have spoken to a handful of sportsbooks today and some are reporting as much as 85 percent of the action on the Spartans to cover 6.5 points," Jack Randall, a handicapping analyst at OddsShark.com, said this morning in an interview.
As of Friday, most online and Vegas sportsbooks were listing the Spartans as a touchdown favorite over the Broncos, with an over-under of 46.5. But are all those Michigan State bettors going to be disappointed?
"It's always risky when so much of the public is on one side of the game because, let's face it—the public is wrong a lot of the time," said Randall. "And Boise State has been a nasty underdog the few times it's in that role."
Indeed, Boise State has been an underdog only seven times since 2006, according to the college football database at OddsShark.com. And in those seven games, they covered the spread six times.
Michigan State returns 13 starters after going 11-3 last year, winning the Big Ten's Legends Division but losing the inaugural conference championship game to Wisconsin. They later defeated Georgia in the Outback Bowl.
Eight starters return on defense, including eight of last year's top nine tacklers, but only five starters are back on offense. And they'll have to replace QB Kirk Cousins and last year's top three receivers. But they do get back RB Le'Veon Bell and four starters along the offensive line.
Boise State, on the other hand, gets just seven starters back from last year's 12-1 team, five on offense and only two on defense. The Broncos, whose only loss last year came by one point to TCU, must now replace QB Kellen Moore, RB Doug Martin and the entire front seven on defense.
This is the first-ever meeting between these two programs.
In early betting on this game, about 60 percent of action on the side had come in on the Spartans, and about 65 percent of play on the total had come down on the 'over.' But that action was far more one-sided at shops like Bovada.
Enhancing its reputation as a giant-killer, Boise State is 8-1 straight-up and 7-2 against-the-spread vs. BCS automatic-qualifier schools the last five seasons. Over the last three seasons the Broncos have opened by beating Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia.
Michigan State, meanwhile, is 8-2 SU but only 5-5 ATS during the first two weeks of the season in five years under Coach Dantonio.
Free Boise State vs Michigan State Pick: These two teams both lost a lot over the off-season. But while Michigan State lost less, Boise State has shown an ability to fill holes quickly and effectively. They have been road warriors and bite hard as underdogs.
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