Jayhawks’ move from heavy underdog to slight favorite not that crazy by Las Vegas standards

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas wide receivers LaQuvionte Gonzalez (1) and Steven Sims Jr. (11) are surrounded by fans during a postgame interview following the Jayhawks' 55-6 win over Rhode Island on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

The Kansas football team’s 49-point, season-opening thrashing of visiting Rhode Island last weekend seems to have earned the Jayhawks some respect in the gambling world.

But Chris Andrews, a veteran bookmaker with more than two decades of experience setting lines in Las Vegas, said he was not all that surprised by the recent activity surrounding KU’s Week 2 match-up with Ohio.

Initially listed with Ohio being a nine-point favorite on Sunday night, the point spread, in about 24 hours, jumped the aisle and currently sits with Kansas as a three-point favorite. That’s a shift of nearly two touchdowns in 24 hours, a move that Andrews said surely was a reaction to each team’s result during Week 1.

“Obviously, some people saw the Kansas victory last week and were greatly impressed,” Andrews said. “But the second week can be really funny. Bettors, bookmakers, you’re kind of walking on a bed of knives here because every year we’re always wrong on a certain number of teams, both good and bad.”

With Kansas winning 55-6 and Ohio falling to Texas State at home in triple-overtime, it’s easy to see why the betting public went on Kansas early. But Andrews said he expects that the number will come back closer to the middle by Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. kickoff — possibly with Ohio even becoming the favorite again — and, based on recent history, he believes that’s the right thing.

“I happen to agree with the opening number,” said Andrews, now the Race & Sportsbook director at Las Vegas’ South Point Casino. “I thought that was a good number. Give Kansas their due, they obviously played a good game, but I do think the money will show back the other way eventually. That said, it won’t go back to nine.”

Andrews also said the fact that the bulk of the movement happened on Sunday night — the line dropped from Ohio -9 to Ohio -1.5 in about 30 minutes — was not all that rare and that it did not take much to move a line on Sunday night because it traditionally is not a heavy action night. In fact, some books, including South Point, aren’t even open for the following week’s games on Sundays because Andrews said that was a prime time for “phony moves” in which bettors try to move a line one way so they can bet it even harder the other way later in the week.

Andrews said the 12-point swing in the KU-Ohio line was not the craziest he had seen during his years in the business. Asked to recall the most incredible change he could, Andrews said that was difficult.

“I can’t remember one because there’s always crazy stuff on Sunday night, particularly the second week of the season,” he said. “But it’s certainly one to take notice of and it is one of the bigger ones. But it’s not unprecedented, especially in the second week of the season.”