Syracuse vs West Virginia : Bowl season is finally reaching the point where more ranked teams take the field, and Friday’s three-game slate could feature a major wager as well. Covers checks in on the action and line movement for all three contests, with insights from Scott Shelton, sportsbook supervisor at The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip.
West Virginia had a shot at the Big 12 Conference title in mid-November, but lost its last two games in shootout fashion. The Mountaineers (8-3 SU, 6-3-2 ATS) fell at Oklahoma State 45-41 as 6-point favorites, then pushed as 3-point underdogs in a 59-56 home loss to Oklahoma.
So West Virginia ended up in the Camping World Bowl, which apparently wasn’t attractive enough for star quarterback Will Grier. On Dec. 8, the senior announced he would not play as he focuses on the NFL Draft. MGM books moved the line from Mountaineers -7 to -5 on rumors that Grier wouldn’t play, then dropped to West Virginia -2 after the QB confirmed he would sit out.
Meanwhile, Syracuse put some lean years behind it this season, going 9-3 SU and 8-3-1 ATS after four years in which it won a total of 15 games – a three-win season and three four-win campaigns. The Orange capped the regular season with a road upset of Boston College, 42-21 as 6-point pups.
The line jumped the fence to Syracuse -1 on Dec. 22 and continued to head the Orange’s direction for this 5:15 p.m. ET kickoff in Orlando.
“There’s been a million different lines, and it’s slowly creeping up on Syracuse,” Shelton said, adding that big cash could be looming on the Orange, as one large MGM player was approved for a $250,000 bet, but has yet to make the play. “We’re gonna need West Virginia, especially if that bet comes in. Even without it, pointspread ticket count is 3/1 on Syracuse, and pointspread money is way more than that.
“We really haven’t seen anything on West Virginia of late. It’s been all Syracuse.”
Purdue pulled off one of college football’s most impressive upsets this season, drubbing Ohio State 49-20 as a 12-point ‘dog back in October to cap a four-game SU and five-game ATS winning streak. However, the Boilermakers (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS) went 2-3 SU and ATS in their last five games, barely gaining bowl eligibility with a 28-21 win as 3-point favorites at Indiana in the regular-season finale.
Auburn reached the Southeastern Conference title game last season, but got nowhere near that level this year. After winning four of their first five games, the Tigers (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) went 3-4 SU the rest of the way, including a 52-21 thumping at the hands of archrival Alabama as massive 25.5-point road underdogs.
“The money is really close on this game,” Shelton said of pointspread action at The Mirage and other MGM books. “A few more dollars on Purdue and literally one more ticket on Purdue. It’s as dead even a two-way game as you’re gonna get. Really balanced action, and we don’t have a real need yet. I did see a little sharp play on Purdue moneyline.”
Kickoff for this contest in Nashville is at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Washington State was in great position to win the Pac-12 Conference title and a Rose Bowl bid, but its archrival came to town in late November and spoiled the party. The Cougars (10-2 SU and ATS), who had the nation’s best regular-season pointspread mark, tumbled to Washington 28-15 laying 2.5 points at home, thereby missing the Pac-12 championship game.
Iowa State put together its second consecutive successful campaign, following up on its 8-5 SU mark in 2017-18, when the program led the country with an 11-1-1 ATS record. This season, the Cyclones already have eight wins (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS), but got a huge scare in what should have been a gimme finale, edging Drake 27-24 as monster 41-point home faves.
“That one’s not too big yet,” Shelton said of the decision on this 9 p.m. ET meeting in San Antonio. “We’re a small loser on Iowa State, especially if the Cyclones win outright. There’s some Iowa State moneyline play. Pointspread ticket count is 2/1 on Washington State, but the pointspread money is a little more on the ‘dog.”