The betting market for college football conference champions has been slow thus far, which doesn’t come as a surprise to South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews.
That’s typical with the start of the regular season 3½ weeks away.
“Guys don’t want to jump in, especially with the transfer portal,” Andrews said Tuesday. “We as bookmakers are being a little more cautious, and I think the bettors are doing the same.”
But at least one trend has emerged, as bettors are high on Southern California to challenge defending champion Utah for supremacy in the Pac-12 Conference.
The Trojans are 2-1 co-favorites with Utah at South Point to win the conference title, while other local sportsbooks have similar numbers posted.
“I like Utah a lot this year. I personally think USC has been very overrated,” Andrews said. “I think the true test is what (USC) can do in the trenches. The rest of the league is not all that strong in the trenches, either, but Utah kind of is.”
USC and Utah, which pushed Ohio State to the brink in the Rose Bowl, are +180 co-favorites at Westgate SuperBook to win the Pac-12. William Hill has the teams as +210 co-favorites, and Circa Sports also lists them as co-favorites at +225.
The Trojans are +160 favorites at Station Casinos, with Utah at +180.
According to Andrews, the Utes are 3½-point favorites over USC at South Point for their head-to-head matchup Oct. 15 in Salt Lake City. Utah opened at -12 in June, and the game was immediately bet down to -7.
USC also has been a popular pick among sharps to win the national championship under first-year coach Lincoln Riley and sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams, who played for Riley last season at Oklahoma.
“I thought people would bet on (USC). I’m surprised they’ve bet quite this much on them,” Andrews said. “USC is definitely one of the teams we’ve got quite a bit of action on.”
In the Big Ten, Ohio State remains a prohibitive favorite and is -250 at South Point, William Hill and Westgate to win the conference title. Westgate lists the Buckeyes at -210 and they’re -300 at Station.
Defending champion Michigan is 8-1 at South Point and anywhere from 6-1 (Station) to as high as +820 (Westgate).
“We had a little bit of money on Michigan,” Andrews said.
The Southeastern Conference remains a two-horse race, with Alabama is as low as -140 at William Hill and -150 at South Point, Station and Westgate. Georgia ranges from +110 at Station to +160 at Circa and Westgate.
Andrews said he has some exposure on Texas A&M to win the national championship, and the Aggies are 16-1 at South Point and William Hill to win the SEC title.
In the Big 12, Oklahoma is a consensus plus-money pick to win the title with South Point listing the Sooners at +240. Andrews said Oklahoma has been one of the most bet-against teams in his games of the year, along with Brigham Young, Michigan State and Notre Dame.
Texas also is expected to contend for the Big 12 title and is 3-1 at Circa and Westgate. South Point lists the Longhorns at +350.
Clemson remains the class of the Atlantic Coast Conference in bookmakers’ eyes. The Tigers are -120 at South Point and William Hill, while Westgate is at -125 to win the conference.
“Clemson, I’m not sure they’re as good as they have been in the past,” Andrews said, “but I’m not sure the rest of the conference is all that great either.”
Conference championship odds at South Point
North Carolina State 6-1
Wake Forest 15-1
Ohio State -250
Penn State 10-1
Oklahoma State +375
Kansas State 10-1
Texas A&M 16-1