The Ohio State-Michigan game featured notable line movement and record betting interest, the bulk of it on the underdog Buckeyes.
More bets were placed on Saturday's version of The Game than on any other college football game in DraftKings' five years as a leading sportsbook in the U.S. DraftKings also reported that Ohio State-Michigan drew more money from bettors than any other regular-season game in company history.
At Caesars Sportsbook, the betting interest in Ohio State-Michigan was comparable to a top-tier NFL game but didn't set any company records for the amount bet.
"It was No. 2 this season to Colorado-Oregon," Craig Mucklow, vice president of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, said. "We needed Michigan."
According to multiple sportsbooks, there was generally twice as much money wagered on the Buckeyes as there was on Michigan, and it resulted in the line dropping all the way up until kickoff. Before Michigan's Nov. 18 game against Maryland, the Wolverines had been listed as high as 6.5-point favorites over Ohio State. Michigan closed as a consensus 3-point favorite over the Buckeyes, who attracted betting interest from both professional and public bettors.
The SuperBook in Las Vegas opened with the Wolverines as 4.5-point favorites and took instant action on Ohio State from established bettors. The line dropped but bettors continued to take the Buckeyes. "It was the so-called sharp side," Ed Salmons, a longtime Las Vegas bookmaker with the SuperBook, said.
Bookmakers were expecting some late money on Michigan but, at Caesars, it never showed.
"We didn't take that much big Michigan money back after the line moved," Pullen said.
The Wolverines' 30-24 win was the 10th consecutive Michigan-Ohio State game to go over the total (46.5). It also catapulted Michigan past Georgia back into the role of consensus national championship favorites. More bets have been placed on the Wolverines to win the national championship than any other team at BetMGM sportsbooks.
NFL betting history on the line Monday
NFL betting history could happen on "Monday Night Football."
Favorites have covered the spread in 12 of 15 games in Week 12, tying the record for most in a single week in the Super Bowl era (Week 12 of 2017). According to ESPN Stats & Information, there has never been a week in the Super Bowl era in which favorites covered the spread in 13 games.
The historic week of favorites began with one of the largest upsets ever on Thanksgiving Day. The Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions 29-22 as 8.5-point underdogs. It was the third-largest upset point spread-wise on Thanksgiving since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger. It was also one of the most heavily bet games of the season and started the holiday weekend with a win for the sportsbooks.
Bettors would bounce back in a big way, starting with blowout wins by the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers to close out Thanksgiving and followed by the Miami Dolphins' easy win over the New York Jets on Friday. Favorites kept rolling on Sunday, going 8-2 straight-up and against the spread. The New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons were the only two underdogs to win outright Sunday.
"Probably the biggest week [of football season] for the customers," Mucklow said Sunday.
NFL betting notables
Some sportsbooks lost big when the Sunday afternoon thriller between the Philadelphia Eagles and underdog Buffalo Bills ended up right on the point spread. The Eagles opened as consensus 3.5-point favorites in the early lookahead lines offered by sportsbooks. The line flickered back and forth, from -3.5 to -3, throughout the week, but ended up closing at -2.5 on Sunday, after Philadelphia star offensive lineman Lane Johnson was ruled out.
The Eagles won 37-34 in overtime, meaning anyone who bet Buffalo +3.5 or bet Philadelphia at -2.5 were winners. Bettors who bet the game when the line was at -3 received a push and their stakes returned.
"Whenever a big game like that, lands right on the number, it doesn't help," Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, said. "We definitely needed the Bills."
According to sportsbook Hard Rock Bet, a bettor in Florida hit a $50, three-leg parlay featuring that first touchdown scorer in the Jaguars-Texans game (Trevor Lawrence), Bills-Eagles game (Jalen Hurts) and Ravens-Chargers game (Zay Flowers). The parlay paid a net $66,100.
That Ravens TD won a FL bettor $66,000 🤯— Hard Rock Bet (@HardRockBet) November 27, 2023
Trevor Lawrence first TD ✅
Jalen Hurts first TD ✅
Zay Flowers first TD ✅ pic.twitter.com/QF3iuefhob
Week 13 lines
[via ESPN BET; as of Monday]
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott's odds to win regular-season MVP have shortened significantly in November. He entered the month at 60-1. On Monday, he was 8-1, the fourth-best odds at ESPN BET heading into Week 12.
Entering Thursday, 371 entries were still alive in Las Vegas sportsbook Circa Sports' $9.2 million winner-take-all NFL survivor contest; 216 of them took the Lions.
Chris Andrews, a veteran Las Vegas bookmaker with the South Point Casino, posted on X that, after the Lions' upset loss to the Packers, his book had won 99.8% of the NFL teaser wagers that had included that game.
After the first game we're holding 99.8% on teasers. My first thought was who the hell hit a teaser with that result?— Chris Andrews (@andrewssports) November 23, 2023
College football betting notables
Washington opened as a 9.5-point underdog to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game, despite beating the Ducks in their regular-season meeting. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it's the first time since 2020 that a team has been at least a 9-point underdog to an opponent it beat earlier in the season. Clemson won and covered the spread as an 11-point favorite over Notre Dame in the 2020 ACC championship game after losing to the Irish in the regular season.
The Huskies are the third undefeated team to at least a 7-point underdog in a conference championship game.
Alabama begins the week as 5-point underdog to Georgia in the SEC championship game on Saturday in Atlanta. It's only the fourth time the Crimson Tide have been an underdog since 2010. All four games were against Georgia.
The total on the Big Ten championship game between Michigan and Iowa opened at 35.5, the lowest ever in a conference title game. However, it's the highest total on a game involving Iowa since Oct. 7 versus Purdue (38.5).
Iowa has gone 10-2 to the under this season, including Saturday's wild 13-10 win over Nebraska. The total on that game closed at a record low 25.5.
Conference championship game lines
[as of Monday at ESPN BET]
Big 12: Oklahoma State vs. Texas (-14.5, 55.5)
MAC: Miami (OH) vs. Toledo (-8, 45.5)
MWC: Boise State (-3, 58.5) vs. UNLV
SEC: Georgia (-5, 55.5) vs. Alabama
Sun Belt: Appalachian State vs. Troy (-6.5, 51.5)
AAC: SMU vs. Tulane (-4, 50.5)
Big Ten: Michigan (-23, 35.5) vs. Iowa
ACC: Louisville vs. Florida State(-3, 49.5)
Teams with best record against the spread in regular season: Arizona (10-2 ATS) and UNLV (10-2 ATS).
ESPN Stats & Information researcher Mackenzie Kraemer contributed to this column.