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September 23, 2014

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For college football bettors, today could be considered a holiday

The Golden Nugget in downtown LV is the first property to post college football betting numbers, picking 240 marquee games

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Courtesy

The Golden Nugget’s sportsbook.

Tony Miller and his crew of oddsmakers at the Golden Nugget began preparing for this day in January.

Friday, the Golden Nugget was the first Nevada casino to release college football betting numbers for the upcoming season, posting lines on 240 games.

It’s a calculated risk by the property to take bets some 80 days before the season begins when questions remain about certain teams. The resort has numbers posted for matchups in most weeks of the season, including in the late fall, or a full five months from now.

This year, because the early action is so popular with handicappers, the Golden Nugget increased the number of games it posts in June by more than 100. They’ve been doing this for six years — a rite of passage of sorts for football wagering.

“We've done pretty well in the past, but it is still very stressful,” said Miller, director of Golden Nugget race & sports.

Sharp bettors will flock to the downtown Las Vegas property to place initial wagers, hoping they’ll have an opportunity to place a middle bet during the season.

Alabama, for instance, is favored by six points Sept. 7 at Texas A&M in a matchup of teams expected to contend for the national title. But, for argument sake, if Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is injured in the previous week’s game, the number on Alabama would significantly increase.

Bettors who pick Alabama this week would then be able to take Texas A&M at the high point-spread and root for the game to end between both numbers to cash both tickets. Either way, they’d win one of the wagers.

“They are looking to create a nice middle for themselves in October or November,” Miller said.

Betting limits are $1,000 for sides and $500 for totals. The Golden Nugget will adjust lines based on money wagered. Using past years as a gauge, Miller expects his book to be packed — from recreational gamblers excited the football season is closer, to savvy bettors looking for an edge.

“The numbers won’t settle down until next Monday or Tuesday,” Miller said.

The process starts after the past season’s national championship game in January when oddsmakers compile power rankings for the upcoming year. The rankings are constantly updated — on national signing day, after players transfer schools and during spring practice when position battles become more clear.

Some years, it’s a relatively smooth process. Then, the unexpected happens, as it did this year when Notre Dame’s starting quarterback, the same signal caller who led them to the national title game, was dismissed from school. That’s good reason to scramble for Miller and his crew, especially considering Notre Dame games are among bettors' favorites.

The Golden Nugget has lines on every Notre Dame game, and readjustments were needed when Everett Golson left school in late May, and this week when Tommy Rees was named the starting quarterback.

Here are a few of the Notre Dame lines: -24 Aug. 31 vs. Temple in the opener; PICK Sept. 7 at Michigan; -2 Sept. 28 vs. Oklahoma; -6 Oct. 19 vs. USC.

The Notre Dame numbers, and likely those from several schools, will surely change before the close of business Friday. It’s one of the busiest days of the year at Golden Nugget — something Miller and others affiliated with the property embrace.

“It’s stressful, but yes, it’s pretty fun too,” he said. “It’s great seeing (gamblers) getting excited for football season.”

Here are some others game of note:

Aug. 31:

Georgia -3.5 at Clemson

LSU -4 at TCU

Sept. 7:

Georgia -4 vs. South Carolina

Texas -7.5 at BYU

Florida -2.5 at Miami

Sept. 14:

Iowa State -4 vs. Iowa

Louisville -14 at Kentucky

Alabama -6 at Texas A&M

Sept. 21:

Florida -12 vs. Tennessee

BYU -7.5 vs. Utah

Sept. 28:

Georgia -6 vs. LSU

Ohio State -11 vs. Wisconsin

Oct. 5:

Georgia -11 at Tennessee

Oct. 12:

LSU -4 vs. Florida

Oklahoma PICK vs. Texas (at Dallas)

Oregon -14 at Washington

Oct. 19:

Mississippi -2 vs. LSU

Clemson -2 vs. Florida State

Oct. 26:

Oregon -20 vs. UCLA

Kansas State -9 vs. West Virginia

Nov. 2:

Georgia -4 vs. Florida (at Jacksonville)

Florida State -8 vs. Miami

Nov. 9:

Alabama -11.5 vs. LSU

Michigan -4 vs. Nebraska

Wisconsin -8 vs. BYU

Nov. 23:

Ohio State -6 at Michigan

Virginia Tech -10 at Virginia

Northwestern -13 at Illinois

Kansas State -21.5 at Kansas

Nov. 29:

Washington -14 vs. Washington State

Oregon -16 vs. Oregon State

Nov. 30:

Alabama -24 at Auburn

Arizona State -5 vs. Arizona

USC -7 vs. UCLA

Florida State -2 vs. Florida

Georgia -9 at Georgia Tech

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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