In betting parlance, they're known as "Pros vs. Joe's" games, and thanks to a 24-hour barrage of wise guy action that began Friday and lasted until Saturday's kickoff, the Tennessee-Georgia showdown turned into the biggest one of the season.
The Volunteers began the week as around 8.5-point underdogs, and the betting public, otherwise known as "Joe's," couldn't get enough of them. On Thursday, at Caesars Sportsbook, 87% of the money that had been bet on the point spread was on Tennessee. The betting on the money-line -- the odds to win the game straight-up -- was even more lopsided. At DraftKings, 99% of the bets placed on the money-line were on Tennessee.
With the overwhelming money on the Vols, the line ticked down to Tennessee -7.5 on Friday, and that's when the "Pros," aka professional bettors, got involved. Around 10 a.m. PT, Friday, Caesars took a $110,000 bet on Georgia -7.5. Thirty minutes later, the book took a $362,000 bet on the Bulldogs -8.
"I was just waiting for the sharp money to come, and it just wasn't coming. We were just so lopsided [on Tennessee]," Joey Feazel, lead college football trader for Caesars Sportsbook, recalled. "And, then on Friday, pop-pop."
In less than 24 hours, the money on the point spread had gone from 87% on Tennessee to 68% on Georgia. Other sportsbooks saw big professional money on Georgia, too. The sportsbook at The Borgata in Atlantic City also reported taking a $200,000 bet on the Bulldogs around the same time as Caesars on Friday.
The professional action continued into Saturday, driving the line up to as high as Georgia -10 at some sportsbooks at kickoff. The game ended up as the most-heavily bet of the college football season at Caesars.
"It was absolutely a Pros vs. Joe's situation," John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, said. "We saw some of our sharpest groups the lay the favorite Friday and early Saturday."
Georgia won and covered the spread in an impressive 27-13 victory.
"The sharps were correct," Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, said.
Caesars Sportsbook called Sunday's results "solid." The big game for the book was the New York Jets upsetting the Buffalo Bills 20-17 as 10.5-point underdogs.
"Whenever you have a big favorite that goes down, it kills all those money-line parlays, all the teasers, usually it's a good start," Pullen said of the Jets' win. "Obviously, having the Super Bowl favorites [Bills] go down, made it even bigger."
The Jets' win was the second-largest upset, point spread-wise, of the season, behind only the Carolina Panthers' win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as 13-point underdogs.
Underdogs were 7-3-2 against the spread this week, entering Monday night's Baltimore Ravens-New Orleans Saints game. Underdogs have covered the spread in 59.2% of games this season.
Unders are 8-4 in Week 9, ahead of Monday Night Football. Just over 58% of games this have gone under the total, the highest percentage of unders through Week 9 in any season since 1991, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Largest reported bets at Caesars Sportsbook
$500,000 on Patriots -5.5 vs. Colts (Win)
$325,000 on Saints +3 (-130) vs. Ravens (TBD)
$300,000 on Vikings -3 (-120) vs. Commanders (Push)
$275,000 on Jets +12 vs. Bills (Win)
Not all sportsbooks had successful Sundays, which shows how results can vary from one book to the next.
"Sunday was disappointing," Murray of the SuperBook told ESPN. "The Rams [straight-up] ended up being our biggest need of the day, and we had a house player [VIP customer] beat us up pretty good on Seattle."
The Rams surrendered a last-second touchdown in a 16-13 loss to the Buccaneers, and the Seahawks upset the Arizona Cardinals 31-21 as 2.5-point underdogs.
"The volume in the NFL this week wasn't great anyway," Murray added. "The last two NFL cards have been brutal. Next week looks better. Hopefully, the volume returns. We can't complain, as we had a great day on Saturday."
College football notables
Heisman update: After Georgia's big win over Tennessee, Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett moved from 100-1 to 25-1 to win the Heisman Trophy at BetMGM. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud is the favorite at +150, followed by Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (+175). Hooker was the favorite at even-money last week.
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels' stock on Mojo, a platform that allows customers to buy and sell shares of players' professional statistical accomplishments, grew 8.5%, from $4.44 to $4.88, after leading the Tigers to an upset of Alabama on Saturday.
Notable opening lines [via Circa Sports] LSU -2, 65.5 at Arkansas Nebraska at Michigan -29, 49.5 Alabama -12, 66.5 at Ole Miss Washington at Oregon -12, 70.5 Georgia -16, 50.5 at Mississippi State TCU at Texas -7, 66.5