Sports handicappers are starting to get a better feel for the 2012 college football season heading into the middle of September, which will lead to an increased handle at Las Vegas sports books through the bowl season.
The biggest mistake that beginning sports bettors can make is placing too much stock in early results, as many teams across the country are adjusting to new coaches, players and schemes.
When looking over the Week 3 college football betting odds (courtesy of SBR Forum), one of the biggest representations of a potential overreaction in the market is the Virginia Tech Hokies opening up as 11.5-point favorites over the Pittsburgh Panthers. It's clear to everyone that these two programs are going in opposite directions, but only one is being led by a new staff on the sideline.
Let's take a closer look at this week's action from a betting perspective, as I guide you through some of the important factors to look at when placing your wagers this Saturday.
Despite losing their first two games against the Ohio Bobcats and Virginia Cavaliers, the betting public is expecting the Penn State Nittany Lions to capture their first victory of the Bill O'Brien era on Saturday.
The Navy Midshipmen received a bye week after suffering a humiliating 50-10 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Dublin, Ireland, which could lead to a bounce-back performance here.
I'm surprised to see a heavy amount of action on the Nittany Lions as six-point home favorites, considering the Midshipmen are 13-5 against the spread (ATS) as a road underdog of seven or fewer points.
One of the biggest movers on the odds board, the Texas A&M Aggies are receiving a lot of action after dropping a 20-17 decision to the Florida Gators as one-point home underdogs in their first-ever Southeastern Conference affair last week.
I'm not really interested in laying 13 points in this contest, as I believe the program needs a few more games to adjust to Kevin Sumlin's system.
Don't blindly land on the home underdog in this spot, either, with the SMU Mustangs failing to cover their two home games with a total of 56.5 to 63 the last two-plus seasons.
Based on early-season numbers, the Virginia Tech Hokies should win this game by three touchdowns, but the college football oddsmakers have established them as 10.5-point favorites. That should immediately raise a red flag to any handicapper when breaking down this game.
Sports bettors need to be careful laying this inflated number, especially with the Hokies going 0-3 ATS after posting a win of 35 or more points the previous week.
The Arizona State Sun Devils are off to a 2-0 start under new head coach Todd Graham, which includes an impressive 45-14 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini as 5.5-point home favorites last week.
If you take a look at the scores around the nation last week, you'll notice that the Pac-12 Conference enjoyed great success against non-conference opponents.
The public is buying into the hype.
The Missouri Tigers are currently listed as 6.5-point home favorites in this matchup, coming off a 41-20 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in their first-ever game as a member of the SEC.
I'm not interested in playing an underdog vs. a host that's 22-5 ATS after allowing more than 40 points in its previous game.
The Colorado State Rams are one of my play-on teams this year due to first-year head coach Jim McElwain, but I won't be joining the party this week due to the amount of action they've already received.
Sports bettors will quickly notice that the San Jose Spartans have fallen to 11-point home favorites, which is 1.5 points lower than their opening number.
The public may be right in this matchup, with the Spartans going 0-3 ATS as home favorites of 7.5 to 14 points since 2010.
The Florida Atlantic Owls have received enough action to move from 44.5 to 42-point road underdogs against the Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday, which is a significant move with this type of spread in Week 3.
I believe the action is warranted, especially with how lethargic the Bulldogs looked in their season opener against the Buffalo Bulls, only to come away with a visually-impressive win on the scoreboard against Missouri last week.
It's also important to note that the Bulldogs may get caught looking ahead to their second SEC game against the Vanderbilt Commodores in Week 4.
The South Florida Bulls opened up as 10-point home favorites against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, but that number has fallen by 2.5 points at most spots.
Sports bettors are likely fading Bulls third-year head coach Skip Holtz, who has lost his first two Big East Conference openers in straight-up fashion as a favorite.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets can ill-afford to drop their first two conference games of the year, suffering a 20-17 overtime setback against the Virginia Tech Hokies as 7.5-point road underdogs in Week 1.
Head coach Paul Johnson should have a focused bunch in this contest, especially after dropping a 24-21 decision to Virginia as 7.5-point road favorites in last year's meeting. He has compiled an impressive 24-12-1 ATS mark when seeking revenge in his career.
California Golden Bears head coach Jeff Tedford is certainly on the hot seat this year, but he's managed to average 7.9 wins per year in his first 10 seasons.
The program has lost both of its games as underdogs of 10.5 to 21 points since 2010, but managed to cover the spread.
Urban Meyer put up some great ATS numbers before taking the Ohio State Buckeyes head coaching job, but Tedford's 13-3 ATS run as an underdog of six or more points is hard to ignore.
Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers
This situation is often considered a trap in sports handicapping, as most of the betting public will blindly bet a ranked team as a road underdog against an unranked host. I'm not sold on that angle here.
Florida has won the last seven meetings in the series, including the last six by a double-digit margin.
There's no doubt that the Tennessee Volunteers are looking to reestablish themselves in the hierarchy of the Southeastern Conference, but they haven't kicked off as a favorite against the Gators since 2004.
I'm not interested in laying three points in this contest, especially since I established the road team as a half-point favorite.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Michigan State Spartans
College football fans have watched a lot of close battles between these two foes, which has translated in the road team going 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings.
Taking a closer look at this situation is noteworthy, especially with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish currently listed as six-point road underdogs.
When receiving six or fewer points in this series, the visiting side has compiled an impressive 10-1 ATS record in that situation.
You need to really like the Michigan State Spartans to lay this type of number.
The USC Trojans and Stanford Cardinal will attract more wagers than any game on the college football odds board Saturday, which isn't a big surprise due to the proximity of Las Vegas to California.
After moving down to as low as a 7.5-point road favorites in most spots, the Trojans are starting to revisit their opening number of nine now that the casual fan has gotten involved in the market.
I'm personally not going to back a side, but I do like this Pac-12 Conference matchup to fall UNDER the total.
Sports bettors need to be careful in getting caught up in the hype of backing the visitors, as the Cardinal have covered their last five games as a home underdog.