Don’t play innocent.
Even if you never place a bet, we all pay homage to the odds makers.
In fact, you probably know Iowa’s football team is a 7 1/2-point underdog against Louisiana State, heading into the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.
But what do the gurus of gambling really think of the Hawkeyes?
“The average bettor likes offensive teams,” said Kevin Bradley, sports book manager for Bovada.lv. “They like watching a game that’s going to score a lot of points.
“So a team like Iowa maybe doesn’t attract as much money as some of the more offensive teams.”
According to a recent report by CNBC, between $60-70 billion is wagered on college football each year.
In other worlds, this isn’t just a sinful sidelight, it’s a full-fledged pastime.
“Once it gets to the 28th or 30th of December, it really, really picks up,” Bradley said. “Overall, these games combined will take more than the Super Bowl itself.”
Even if we don’t actively participate, we all follow the point spreads.
It’s a conversation starter, even though most of don’t really know what we’re talking about.
For example: How do the insiders set a betting line, when college football’s postseason has so many variables?
How do you know if Mack Brown’s departure will inspire Texas at the Alamo Bowl? Or, if Ohio State will be properly motivated for the Orange Bowl, now that dreams for a national title are dashed?
“There’s no doubt bowl games are more tricky, than let’s say conference play,” Bradley explained. “Because you’re kind of able to stack these teams up a little bit better (during the regular season).
“We’re looking at where these teams rank in offense and defense, how have they been successful this year when we’ve put up spreads on them.”
And once a point spread is established?
“There’ll be a lot of line movement, especially the upcoming weeks,” Bradley said. “As the games get closer, once we see how the money comes in … Is it just our regular public bettors betting it? Or, is it some of our sharper bettors, our guys who we know have had success in college football this year?
“Once you see who’s betting, then you’ll see some line movement in probably most of these games.”
So far, the Outback Bowl is generating little buzz.
“There’s a lot of other games that day, as well,” Bradley said. “So it might not get as much attention.”
Believe it or not, a ho-hum matchup like the Jan. 4 BBVA Compass Bowl between Houston and Vanderbilt could be a more popular pick.
“That game might actually take more money than Iowa, just because it’s the only game of the day,” Bradley said.
“(The Outback Bowl) kind of gets lost in the mix a little bit, because it’s not a crazy offensive matchup.”
No single bowl, however, beats the NFL.
“The NFL is still way bigger than college football,” Bradley said. “Even a crappy game like the Bills and Jaguars would probably take more money than most of the bowl games.”
So when it comes to the high-rollers, the Outback Bowl is pocket change.
“No matter what, it will take a lot of money,” said Bradley, who declined to give estimates, “but as you rank it against some of those other games, it’s probably not going to be right up there.”<EL,3>
Andrew Logue covers Hawkeye football and sports media for the Register. Follow him on Twitter: @AndrewMLogue.
WHO: Iowa (8-4) vs. Louisiana State (9-3)
WHEN/WHERE: Jan. 1; Tampa, Fla. (Raymond James Stadium)
TIME, TV: Noon; ESPN
LINE: LSU by 7 1/2
NOTABLE: This will be Iowa’s the 27th bowl appearance. The Hawkeyes are 14-11-1 in postseason games, and 6-4 in bowl games during the Kirk Ferentz era.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football