It's college football bowl season, but a lot is going on off the field, including opt-outs with the NFL draft looming and players announcing their intent to enter the transfer portal.
The good thing is that a lot of it is actionable. It is exactly like betting on injury news — you have to determine how valuable a player is to a team or a spread, but you have to be fast because the market moves quickly.
There was a prime example this week when Coastal Carolina QB Grayson McCall announced his decision to enter the transfer portal — the spread and total for their bowl game moved, and it moved fast. East Carolina shifted from a 10.5-point favorite to a 13-point favorite, with the total moving from 59.5 to 56. Just 10 minutes later, McCall released a statement saying he would still be playing in the bowl game, moving the spread to 8.5 and the total to 62.
The original line was uncertain of the McCall situation, so that uncertainty was built into the lines. But once that information was public, the line shifted, which is why the current line is significantly different from the original.
That uncertainty is your friend. If you have information ahead of the market, you will find yourself in a favorable position once the news breaks.
It is tough to get ahead of news like that in article form, but there are still edges to be taken advantage of without the need to chase injury news. So, over the next few weeks, we will look ahead to some of the potentially incorrect lines.
Bowl Season starts with two games on Friday and seven on Saturday. And then the fun begins.
There are a lot of key players missing from this game, so looking at how these teams performed during the regular season will not be much help.
Evan Prater will be starting at quarterback for the Bearcats. A redshirt sophomore, Prater started the last two games of the regular season and totaled just 229 passing yards across 43 attempts. He'll also be without his top four receivers, as Tyler Scott, Josh Whyle and Tre Tucker have all opted out and Jadon Thompson has entered the transfer portal.
Louisville, on the other hand, will be without starting QB Malik Cunningham and a couple of rotational pieces on defense, but they are an otherwise healthy, full-strength team that performed well down the stretch of the regular season.
Backup QB Brock Domann is not spectacular by any means, but he averaged 7.0 yards per pass attempt and recorded a 10.9-yard average depth of target across 123 pass attempts in 2022. He can keep this offense churning against a Bearcats defense that finished the regular season ranked 45th among 60 Group of Five teams in expected points added allowed (EPA) per play.
This spread looks a little light and should be closer to -3.5, so there is value in taking Louisville and getting the key number of three onside. I would not be against taking some Cincinnati team total under 19.5, too, as their cluster deficits at receiver are real and likely underestimated, especially with a quarterback without much playing time.
An added motivational factor for Louisville might also be in play because their head coach, Scott Satterfield, just accepted the vacant head coaching job at Cincinnati.