Significant sports stories inevitably impact the betting world, even if they involve a sensitive topic. That's just the nature of the business because that's exactly what it is. This business involves a great deal of money, and industry experts must approach unique variables just like they would an injury or any other development.
Hurricane Ian is impacting football games across the Southeast this weekend, which forced schools throughout the week to consider relocating or rescheduling them. In turn, oddsmakers and professional bettors had to adjust accordingly. Severe weather conditions could completely alter a game. Thus, nearly 10 games have had their totals lowered between six to eight points since they were first posted last Sunday. But ultimately, it's still a guessing game and oddsmakers have protected themselves.
"Betting on weather seven days out is random, and the only one with an advantage is the big guy upstairs," BetMGM vice president of trading Jason Scott told ESPN. "And to my knowledge, he doesn't bet."
However, on the other side of the counter, experienced and savvy bettors do have an advantage. That's because they know how to optimize the fine print of this unique situation. Simply, there is no universal house rule for a game that changes venues or dates. Every sportsbook has its own policy, which they actually solidified during COVID-19.
Some operators void all bets if a game moves venues or days. Simple. Some declare action for any wager regardless of a change. That's also easy. After that, it gets tricky. One book requires the game to be played within 100 miles, while another deems the bet valid, as long as the home team is still designated as the home team. If the game is rescheduled, a few books require the game to be played within seven or eight days of its original date. Another book's house rules specify that all NFL games must be played by the following Wednesday.
Thus, if bettors do their homework and are armed with all the details while also understanding how the market will respond, then they can use the house rules to their advantage. And they can do this as they monitor college and NFL teams announcing contingency plans.
So, this week, pro bettors not only shopped for the best number, but they also shopped for the best house rule. That's because they could play both sides of a game and if it relocates, then they have a good number at a book that has deemed that ticket as action and then also have a bad number at a book that will void the ticket. If the game is never relocated, then the bettor just loses some juice. It's a risk worth taking for several games that could lead to huge edges.
What do we really know about Ole Miss? I'll save you the time and energy. The answer is ... absolutely nothing. Give it some credit for being undefeated, but the verdict is still out due to an extremely soft schedule so far. This point spread opened around 4.5 and is now a full touchdown. Arthur, my adorable French Bulldog of recent SportsCenter fame, wears a blue checkered bow tie and probably belongs at The Grove. But I am rolling with the dog.
Pick: Kentucky +7
I lost a lot of money on their last meeting. The Pokes had every opportunity to win the Big 12 Championship game and could not punch it in. I may never recover. And while I know Oklahoma State wants revenge badly, this number just feels too short. I realize the Bears are coming off a tough game at Iowa State but the Cowboys have not been tested at all. And they even struggled at times against weak competition; they only led Arizona State by three points in the fourth quarter at home. That's unacceptable. QB Spencer Sanders is dynamic, but Dave Aranda will have this defense ready.
Pick: Baylor -2.5
I like this play a lot, but I don't feel good about it. I am petrified that pro bettors pounced on Bama when it opened at 14.5 and drove the spread higher. I also hate that FPI has this lined at 22.1. But I am still rolling with the Hogs, who will have a "red out" and create an imposing environment. Bama is a juggernaut, but keep in mind that four of Bryce Young's five road starts have been decided by three points or less. And for all his domination, Nick Saban is only 12-12 ATS on the road against top-20 SEC teams. I expect this to be tough.
Pick: Arkansas +17
I cannot remember the last time I wagered a solid amount of money on a Clemson game. I can never get a good read on this team since Trevor Lawrence left, although we did escape last week with Wake and the points. Again, I lean to the underdog. The Tigers get everyone's best shot and NC State wants this game, and I also doubt Clemson can string together four solid quarters. I really like Devin Leary and coach Dave Doeren so let's grab the points.
Pick: NC State +7
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The Bulldogs showed some vulnerability last week, only leading Kent State by 10 points in the fourth quarter. That does not bode well for Mizzou, as I expect the Dawgs to take out their frustration from kickoff. Plus, the Tigers are coming off a demoralizing and heartbreaking overtime loss to Auburn. This is a mismatch on paper and I do feel UGA is up for this bounce-back performance.
Pick: Georgia -17.5 first half
This game will probably burn me, but I have to take the bait and lay the points. Road conference chalk is never fun, especially in this particular series where the home team typically wins and covers, but Auburn is a complete disaster. Bryan Harsin epitomizes the hot seat, and I always look to back Brian Kelly. In fact, Kelly showed his coaching chops earlier this season against Mississippi State. Trailing 13-0, the Tigers took control after some solid midgame adjustments. Meanwhile, Auburn is one of the nation's worst second-half offenses against FBS competition. These are two programs headed in opposite directions.
Pick: LSU -8
As you can tell by now, I enjoy picking one of Saturday's ugliest games -- and this might take the cake. I have actually fared well with these doozies. Last week we backed the Aggies as a home favorite against Hawai'i and we will do the same here.
Honestly, Florida International is a wreck. The Panthers have not defeated an FBS school since 2019. They ended last season with 11 straight losses and snapped that streak this year with a 2-point conversion to defeat Bryant in overtime. Following that win, they got blown out by Texas State, among the worst teams in FBS, and then just lost 73-0 at Western Kentucky.
Pick: New Mexico State -14.5