Fact-Checking College Football “Sharp Reports” (Part 2, Action Network)

Fact-Checking College Football

On Oct. 3 we detailed a fact check on the respected Vegas Stats & Information Network’s sharp reports through five weeks of the college football season.

In the crosshairs of these sharp report fact checks are three criteria:

  • Saturday games
  • Point spreads
  • Lead writers

For VSiN, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum was pinpointed as the outlet’s “lead writer” who assembles their sharp reports, given his bulk of coverage on the subject.

This second installment of fact-checking sharp reports focuses on The Action Network, another well-known sports betting outlet, and PJ Walsh, a sports bettor, and editor at the company who details the majority of their sharp reports.

Important note: These fact checks are solely to highlight what sharps bet and the results, a progress report on their decisions, not a reckoning on the reporting of Appelbaum and Walsh.

All quotes in the weekly breakdowns are credited directly to Walsh’s reporting.

Saturday College Football


Nebraska at Illinois

“Nebraska opened as a 9.5-point favorite over Illinois at DraftKings Sportsbook, and respected bettors have jumped all over the underdog in this matchup. According to Action Labs’ Bet Signals, multiple waves of sharp betting action have hit the Illini, driving this price down to the current consensus of Illinois +7, and even to +6.5 at a handful of sportsbooks, like FanDuel.”

Of note, according to Walsh, “However, there has been some Nebraska buyback waiting at -6.5 so far this week, so don’t be surprised to see this number settle in at 7 until Saturday afternoon’s kickoff.”

Result: Illinois 30, Nebraska 22. WON OUTRIGHT. Sharps 1-0 overall

UTEP at New Mexico State

“As recently as 7:51 a.m. ET (on Aug. 28), UTEP sat as a 10-point favorite over New Mexico State. But wiseguys have pounced on the underdog Aggies throughout the day on Saturday, driving this spread down to +8.5 at DraftKings.”

Result: UTEP 30, New Mexico State 3. LOSS. Sharps 1-1 overall

Sharps split their Week Zero plays from The Action Network’s sharp report.


#16 LSU at UCLA

“When it comes to tracking professional betting action, LSU vs. UCLA is about as classic as it gets. LSU has attracted 57% of the spread tickets to this point, yet the line has dropped from a high of UCLA +4 at DraftKings through the key number of 3 and down to +2.5 at the time of writing.”

Result: UCLA 38, LSU 27. WON OUTRIGHT. Sharps 2-1 overall

For the lone Week 1 sharp play from The Acton Network, UCLA delivered an outright victory as an underdog.

WEEK 2, SEPT. 11

Toledo at #8 Notre Dame

“Like because Notre Dame needed overtime to squeak by Florida State on Sunday (Sept. 5), bettors with the resources to move college football lines quickly jumped on Toledo earlier this week, steaming the Rockets at both +18.5 and +18, resulting into the current consensus of +17.”

Result: Notre Dame 32, Toledo 29. COVERED. Sharps 3-1 overall

Air Force at Navy

“At one point this number floated to Navy +7.5 at BetMGM and that’s when sharps decided it was time to pounce.”

Result: Air Force 23, Navy 3. LOSS. Sharps 3-2 overall

Liberty at Troy

“Liberty vs. Troy is your official college football Week 2 “random sharp action alert!” Troy opened as a 6-point underdog against Liberty at DraftKings Sportsbook and is receiving a paltry 29% of the bets, yet this line has dropped to a consensus of +4.5, with some shops down to +4 as well. Yes, you can thank seven separate waves of wiseguy action for this movement thus far.”

Result: Liberty 21, Troy 13. LOSS. Sharps 3-3 overall

Sharps finished college football Week 2 at 1-2, their first individual week under .500.

WEEK 3, SEPT. 18

Michigan State at #24 Miami (FL)

“Ladies and gentleman, we have a contrarian favorite for Saturday’s college football slate! While the public — 76% of tickets have landed on underdog Michigan State thus far — sharps have been quietly backing Miami in this matchup. Back on Monday (Sept. 13) this spread dipped to Hurricanes -5.5, and that’s exactly when the pros pounced. Since then we’ve tracked three separate waves of Miami money hitting the market, driving this spread up to a consensus of -6.5 across the market.”

Result: Michigan State 38, Miami (FL) 17. LOSS. Sharps 3-4 overall

#1 Alabama at #11 Florida

“As recently as Tuesday (Sept. 14) Alabama sat as a 15.5-point favorite over Florida, but apparently that was too many points for the pros. Wiseguy action showed up to take the Gators at that price, kicking this spread down to +14.5.”

Result: Alabama 31, Florida 29. COVERED. Sharps 4-4 overall

USC at Washington State

“At one point, the USC vs. Washington State spread hit a full 10 points at DraftKings Sportsbook. That number is now down to (USC) Trojans -7 and yup, you guessed it, sharp bettors are the reason. Pros have consistently chopped this line down in three separate waves, resulting in the massive drop we’ve seen thus far.”

Result: USC 45, Washington State 14. LOSS. Sharps 4-5 overall

#22 Auburn at #10 Penn State

Auburn opened +7.5.

“This spread has crashed through 7 and 6 (both very important numbers for college football spread betting) down to a consensus of +5 behind of flood of smart money from respected bettors.”

Result: Penn State 28, Auburn 20. LOSS. Sharps 4-6 overall

Sharps closed Saturday’s picks with a 1-3 record, a second straight losing week.

WEEK 4, SEPT. 25

Early report on a Saturday game: Texas Tech at Texas

On Sept. 21, “There’s no other way to put it: Wiseguys are slamming the Texas Tech vs. Texas spread. BetMGM opened this line at (Texas Tech) Red Raiders +11.5 and sharps have pummeled this price all the way down to the current spread of +7.5.”

Result: Texas 70, Texas Tech 35. LOSS. Sharps 4-7 overall

Florida Atlantic and Air Force

“Despite already moving from (the opening number) +6 to +4 thanks to the wiseguys, our College Football PRO Projections are still highlighting Florida Atlantic as the top spread edge of Week 4. Our model projects this game essentially be a pick’em (Florida Atlantic -0.1 to be exact), resulting in an 11.5% edge when compared to the current price of Owls +4. By jumping aboard now you won’t be getting the same line as the pros (+6), but our projections suggest there’s still reason to like Florida Atlantic at this price.”

Result: Air Force 31, Florida Atlantic 7. LOSS. Sharps 4-8 overall

#12 Notre Dame at #18 Wisconsin

“Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin is about as clear as it gets regarding a sharps vs. squares college football showdown. Seventy percent of spread bets are taking the points with Notre Dame, yet the line has moved from Wisconsin -5 up to -6.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook. If the line movement isn’t enough by itself, Action Labs’ Bet Signals are reporting five separate instances of smart money crashing down on the Badgers, leaving no doubt as to the sharp side of this matchup.”

Result: Notre Dame 41, Wisconsin 13. LOSS. Sharps 4-9 overall

Ohio at Northwestern

“The (Ohio) Bobcats have landed 87% of the money on just 52% of the tickets, a dead giveaway that the largest wagers are coming in on the road underdogs. It’s important to note that sharps have shown interest in Ohio at +15 and +14.5, but should that continue, don’t be surprised to see the faucet of smart money flowing on the Bobcats shut off if books are forced to adjust to +14.”

Result: Northwestern 35, Ohio 6. LOSS. Sharps 4-10 overall

Sharps were swept in Week 4, losing all four bets and ran their weekly losing streak to three straight.

WEEK 5, OCT. 2

Nevada at Boise State

Boise State was favored -5.5 at the opening number.

“…and floated up to -6.5 as recently as Friday afternoon (Oct. 1), and that’s exactly when sharp buyback hit the market. Wiseguy action hammered Nevada and the points, driving the line down to +5 at most shops, with some even ticking down to +4.5.”

Result: Nevada 41, Boise State 31. WON OUTRIGHT. Sharps 5-10 overall

Troy at South Carolina

“BetMGM opened the Troy vs. South Carolina spread at (Troy) Trojans +8 and sharp bettors pounced almost immediately. Two separate waves of smart, market-moving money have come flowing in on Troy, driving this price through +7 and to +6.5.”

Result: South Carolina 23, Troy 14. LOSS. Sharps 5-11 overall

Arizona State at #20 UCLA

“Arizona State was +3.5 against UCLA earlier in the week, but sharp money convinced oddsmakers that the hook off 3 was simply too much.”

Result: Arizona State 42, UCLA 23. WON OUTRIGHT. Sharps 6-11 overall

Sharps finished these college football Week 5 picks in the black, going 2-1.

Not Too Sharp

After five weeks of college football games, the 17 marked by The Action Network’s weekly sharp report are 6-11. Sharps hit the skids following Week Zero and Week 1, going 2-9 until bouncing back in Week 5.

Professional sports bettors play the long game. Although six wins through 17 games detailed by The Action Network is alarming, and entrenches the bankroll in the red, the college football season has yet to reach its halfway point. Good enough news for sharps to bounce back and even better for another round of sharp report fact checks down the road.

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Mario Sanelli writes about sports betting for BeerLife Sports. He previously was the editorial assistant and a general-assignment reporter at The Denver Post for five years after serving as chief editor of The Metropolitan at MSU Denver. Mario was a NFL and college football insider with Mile High Sports for six years.