Bettors are flocking to Oregon State after the sportsbook’s first line favors USC by nearly two touchdowns

A lopsided opening line at USC-Oregon State prompted a flood of bets on the underdog Beavers this week and left a sportsbook with more money at stake on the Pac-12 tilt than any of the week’s NFL games.

Caesars Sportsbook opened Sunday with USC as a 13.5-point favorite over Oregon State. A few minutes later, oddsmakers at Circa Sports set the Trojans up as just 5-point favorites. Bettors pounced on the discrepancy, causing the line to drop significantly at Caesars and tick up slightly at other sportsbooks before settling on the consensus figure of USC -6 on Sunday night.

“We had a high opinion of [USC],” said Joey Feazel, lead college football trader for Caesars Sportsbook. “So we put out a number to attract money from Oregon State. And it worked.”

Action from impact players got on the Beavers right away at Caesars, and Feazel moved down the line aggressively. Line archives from oddsmaker Don Best Sports show Caesars went from USC -13.5 to -9 within 30 minutes and was down to -7 less than two hours after posting the opening number.

On Thursday, Caesars reported that 88.2% of the money wagered on the USC-Oregon State point spread was on the underdog Beavers, including a $110,000 bet on Oregon State +7 placed Tuesday at Nevada.

Meanwhile, sportsbooks that opened USC as less than a touchdown favorite reported lopsided action on the Trojans. At DraftKings, 79% of the money wagered on the game’s spread was on USC, and at the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, there were seven bets on the Trojans for every one on the Beavers.

“I’m sure we’ll need the Beavers at kickoff,” said John Murray, CEO of SuperBook. “The Trojans are public darlings again.”

Midway through the week, more money had been wagered on the USC-Oregon State spread than any other Week 3 NFL game. Typically, the betting handle on an NFL game would dwarf the amount wagered on a college football game the size of USC-Oregon State, with both teams undefeated and the Trojans ranked No. 7.

Feazel said he had rejected potential opening lines from colleagues Sunday and came away with an agreement that USC should be a double-digit favorite. He said he didn’t think he would change much if given the chance for a do-over, but acknowledged the danger of opening numbers that move significantly.

Some professional players will regularly play both sides of bets to reduce risk and hope that the winning margin lands where they win both bets. For example, a player could have taken Oregon State +13.5 at Caesars and USC -5 at Circa. If the Trojans win by more than six but less than 14, the player would win both bets. When the discrepancy between point spreads offered by sportsbooks is large enough, the teams don’t matter. Experienced players will bet the various numbers, especially if they include the most common winning margins, such as threes and sevens.

“You definitely don’t want to lose either way,” Feazel said. “You strive to get to the right number, but at some point you just have to take that risk and understand that there might be an in-between.”

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