Underdogs No More, Auburn Now a Popular Selection in Vegas and Beyond

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterMay 16, 2014

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Value is a preferred term within Vegas walls, the Holy Grail for Sin City voyagers looking for a score.  As is usually the case, however, you never truly appreciate value until it’s gone. At that point, it's no longer value.

At 1000-1 to win the BCS National Championship last year, the Auburn Tigers had more value than just about any other team in the history of the sport. There weren’t many 1000-1 tickets printed, but they were out there. Unfortunately, now they’re just a good story rather than a down payment on a home.

While some had to settle for 500-1, it didn't make their eventual demise and less easier to digest. What a run it was, though.

So long little buddy. It was a fun ride. pic.twitter.com/AI2udwzZvy

— Mark Skiba (@markjskiba) January 7, 2014

Such betting promise carried over game-to-game along the way, too. Gus Malzahn’s team covered the point spread in 12 of 14 games overall, including the final 11. The victories weren't always anticipated, some of which came down to one time-warping play. If you backed the Tigers all year, however, you’re probably still paying for meals with loose change.

That magical run has completely altered the perception of the program. Expectations have seemingly flipped in only six months, and they’re not expected to change course anytime soon. The 0-8-conference mark from 2012 is a distant memory, a forgotten time under forgotten leadership.

The days of 1000-1 are gone. The extra zeroes are a thing of the past.

Despite a daunting SEC slate and a handful of key roster losses, the Tigers opened up with 20-1 odds to win the national championship at the LVH Sportsbook. Galaxies away from 1000-1, even this new and improved assessment didn’t last long.

After ample offseason betting, the Tigers are now behind just a handful of power programs at 12-1.

Auburn's 2014 Regular-Season Schedule
Aug. 30vs. Arkansas
Sept. 6vs. San Jose State
Sept. 18@ Kansas State
Sept. 27vs. Louisiana Tech
Oct. 4vs. LSU
Oct. 11@ Mississippi State
Oct. 25vs. South Carolina
Nov. 1@ Ole Miss
Nov. 8vs. Texas A&M
Nov. 15@ Georgia
Nov. 22vs. Samford
Nov. 29@ Alabama

“Fifty percent more money had been bet on the Tigers than the No. 2 team at the LVH Sportsbook,” said David Purdum, who has covered the sports betting industry for five years at multiple outlets. “What’s interesting is that Auburn is No. 1 in money wagered—by a considerable amount—but not even in the top five in number of bets taken at the LVH.”

What does this mean? For starters, the larger wagers—which could be viewed as “important” wagers, depending on who you ask—are in the Tigers’ favor. That’s telling. It’s these kinds of wagers that move odds quicker than Joe Football Fan taking a $10 flier on “that team that runs a lot of plays.”

Big bets aren’t always smart bets, but they often gain attention.

At the Golden Nugget, another Las Vegas sportsbook with college football future wagers available, the action on Auburn isn’t quite as fierce as it has been at LVH. Still, the national championship bets have been pouring in on the runners-up from earlier in the year. And it is expected to carry over into the regular season.

“UCLA, Oklahoma, Oregon have all taken more money, but Auburn has taken a decent amount of action,” Golden Nugget oddsmaker Aaron Kessler said on the Tigers' national championship wagers. “I anticipate Auburn to be public this year.”

“Public” is a term that implies interest in the Vegas world, a way to qualify what kind of money is coming in on a particular team. Regardless of the quality of opponent for a particular week, people will bet Auburn because, well, it’s Auburn. This mentality will be fairly prevalent this season, which is no surprise after a spectacular year.

Such movement and mindset has been seen in the online realm as well. Auburn was at 20-1 to win the championship at one point, but like the Hilton, those odds have been bet down to 12-1 since January.

Bettors aren’t just backing the Tigers, either. The team’s quarterback has also garnered a significant amount of betting interest when it comes to Heisman wagering.

“Auburn has taken the third-most money behind Florida State and Alabama to win the College Football Playoff,” said Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager, Kevin Bradley. “Interestingly enough, Nick Marshall has taken two times more money than anyone else for the Heisman. He’s now 20-1 after initially being as high as 40-1.”

Dave Martin/Associated Press

Todd Fuhrman has seen such movement from both sides. A former Caesars bookmaker, Fuhrman now assesses the action for Donbest.com as a market analyst. When it comes to Auburn, he's seeing the movement, although he's not ready to join the masses just yet.

“They won't sneak up on anyone—especially oddsmakers—and I really believe there will be a weekly premium attached to them based off how good they were against the spread last season,” Fuhrman said. “They've definitely been a popular future pick from the people I've spoken to and will be an interesting team to watch. But 12-1 seems a little extreme.”

Get used to the extreme. Auburn has been deemed a 22-point favorite over Arkansas, a line that is robust and somehow right where it needs to be. 

All signs from Vegas—and those who have taken full advantage of these numbers—point to Auburn taking yet another enormous leap forward. Whether this confidence translates to a national championship, or a Heisman or another marksman-like performance against the spread will be realized in time.

It may not be 1000-1, but perhaps 12-1 won’t be too shabby come January.


All odds courtesy of Oddsshark.com

Adam Kramer is the College Football National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand.


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