Pro bettors show up to back underdog Buckeyes

  • Joined ESPN in 2014
  • Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008

Georgia remained the favorite against Ohio State in Saturday’s second College Football Playoff semifinal, but the point spread was moving toward the underdog Buckeyes on reports of big wagers by influential bettors.

Multiple sportsbooks reported taking bets on Ohio State from professional bettors Friday, causing the line to move from Georgia -6.5 to -6 across the betting market. The line moved down to Georgia -5.5 on Saturday morning.

In the other CFP semifinal, Michigan was holding as a 7.5-point favorite over TCU.

The Ohio State-Georgia game had attracted twice as much money wagered as TCU-Michigan at Caesars Sportsbook. The line opened as high as Georgia -7 when the matchup was announced in early December but quickly ticked down to -6.5, where it stayed until Friday.

The early betting action had been lopsided on the undefeated Bulldogs, who had attracted more than 80% of the point-spread bets at Caesars Sportsbook as of Saturday morning.

Despite the bulk of the bets being on Georgia, the sharp action on the Buckeyes, which included a $55,000 wager at Caesars Sportsbook, was respected enough to move the line.

“There is perceived value on Ohio State,” Joey Feazel, lead college football trader for Caesars Sportsbook, told ESPN. “It seems the sharps were waiting to see if the line would bet back to seven, and when it didn’t, they started taking the 6.5s.”

Feazel said the sportsbook still needed Ohio State “big,” referring to majority of the action being on Georgia entering game day.

“On a normal college football day, a half point wouldn’t be as big a deal. But in a game of this magnitude, it’s a much bigger deal,” Feazel said.

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