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

An outlier opening line at USC-Oregon State prompted plenty 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 those games in the NFL this week.

Caesars Sportsbook opened Sunday with USC as a 13.5-point favorite over Oregon State. Minutes later, oddsmakers at Circa Sports had the Trojans as just 5-point favorites. Bettors pounced on the difference, which caused the line to drop significantly at Caesars and rise slightly at other sportsbooks, before settling on the consensus number of USC -6 on Sunday night.

“We have a high opinion [USC],” said Joey Feazel, lead college football trader for Caesars Sportsbook. “So we came up with a number to attract Oregon State’s money. And it worked.”

Action immediately came in from influential bettors at Beavers at Caesars, and Feazel moved down the line aggressively. Line archives from odds provider Don Best Sports show Caesars ranged from USC -13.5 to -9 in 30 minutes and became -7 less than two hours after the opening number was posted.

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 are reporting lopsided action on the Trojans. At DraftKings, 79% of the game’s spread money is on USC, and at SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, there are seven bets on the Trojans for every one on the Beavers.

“I’m sure we’ll need the Beavers big on kickoff,” said John Murray, executive director of SuperBook. “Trojans are public darlings again.”

By midweek, 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 will dwarf the value of betting on a college football game the size of USC-Oregon State, with both teams undefeated and the Trojans ranked No. 7.

Feazel said he bounced potential opening lines from teammates on Sunday and there was a consensus that USC should be a double-digit favorite. He said he doesn’t think he would change much if he gets the chance for a do-over but acknowledges the risk of opening numbers that move significantly.

Some professional bettors will regularly play both sides of games to minimize risk and hope for the margin of victory to reach where they win both bets. For example, a bettor can take Oregon State +13.5 at Caesars and USC -5 at Circa. If the Trojans win by more than six but less than 14, the bet wins the same bet. When the point spreads offered by sportsbooks are sufficiently different, the teams don’t matter. Smart bettors will bet on different numbers, especially if they cover the most common winning margins, like threes and sevens.

“You really don’t want to lose both ways,” Feazel said. “You’re trying to get to the right number, but at some point, you have to take that risk and understand that there might be a middle ground.”