Why is the Clemson FSU football 2022 betting line dropping?

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Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) tries to fend off Florida State defensive end Keir Thomas (4) during second-quarter action on Saturday Oct.  30, 2021 in Clemson, SC

Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) tries to fend off Florida State defensive end Keir Thomas (4) during second-quarter action on Saturday Oct. 30, 2021 in Clemson, SC

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Clemson football’s highest AP Top 25 ranking of the regular season has, coincidentally, coincided with its tightest point spread of the regular season.

Despite reaching the No. 4 spot in this week’s poll after blowing out Boston College on the road, the undefeated Tigers are favored by just 3.5 points in Saturday night’s game at unranked Florida State, per VegasInsider’s consensus line.

That 3.5-point spread as of Wednesday morning is a noticeable change from the opening lines in a few major sportsbooks.

DraftKings had Clemson as a 6.5-point favorite against Florida State and Caesars had Clemson as a 7.5-point favorite as of Sunday afternoon.

According to ESPN Chalk gambling writer David Purdumthough, this Clemson-FSU point spread plummet probably has less to do with any lingering unknowns (such as a prominent injury) and more to do with a few strategic market adjustments.

Circa Sports — which Purdum described as an industry leader among Las Vegas sportsbooks when it comes to nailing point spreads — opened with Clemson as a five-point favorite on Sunday. Circa now projects Clemson as a 3.5-point favorite against Florida State.

Major changes to the Caesars betting line (Clemson -7.5 to Clemson -3.5) and the DraftKings betting line (Clemson -6.5 to Clemson -3.5) were an attempt to get closer to Circa’s market-reflecting line after professional bettors put down big money on FSU to cover at those first two sportsbooks, Purdum said.

“In this case — I haven’t talked to anybody about this game — but just looking at the odds, I would suspect this was more due to an oddsmakers’ disagreement,” Purdum told The State. “The (consensus) line has settled at Clemson -3.5. For it to drop from -5 to -3.5 is not that significant because four is not that big of a margin of victory. It’s decent, but -5 to -3.5 is not a giant move.”

Out of 60 to 70 college football games each week, Purdum said there’s usually “at least one discrepancy” among sportsbooks’ opening lines that require a similar adjustment.

Last month, for example, Caesars set Southern Cal as a 13.5-point favorite against Oregon State. Minutes later, as Purdum reported, Circa set Southern Cal as just a five-point favorite against Oregon State, prompting bettors to “(pounce) on the discrepancy” in an attempt for easy profit off Caesars bets.

Southern Cal closed as a 5.5-point favorite and ultimately won by three points, failing to cover.

As for injury influence? Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said this week that, barring something unforeseen in practice, he expects the Tigers (6-0, 4-0 ACC) to be “as close to full strength as we have been probably all year.”

Star defensive end Xavier Thomas returned to play last week against Boston College after missing Clemson’s first five games with a foot injury.

Swinney said Tuesday that defensive tackle Bryan Bresee (non-football medical condition), safety RJ Mickens (undisclosed), safety Tyler Venables (concussion) and defensive back Malcolm Greene (groin) have all been cleared to play against FSU.

Starting cornerback Sheridan Jones remains “day to day” with a shoulder/neck stinger, per Swinney, but came close to playing in Clemson’s last two games.

Clemson’s most prominent publicly revealed injury is now backup running back Kobe Pace, who will miss about four weeks with a high ankle sprain.

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Clemson’s Trenton Simpson tackles Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec along the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mark Stockwell) Mark Stockwell AP

“What happened is that the bettors probably ran over to Caesars and bet the Florida State +7.5 … so it doesn’t necessarily indicate that some sort of injury is involved,” Purdum said. “Although the betting market almost always knows if there’s an injury before it’s released publicly.”

Clemson closed as a 7.5-point favorite at then-No. 21 Wake Forest and a 6.5-point favorite against then-No. 10 NC State, per Odds Shark.

Those were the Tigers’ two closest point spreads of the season before this week’s 3.5-point margin against Florida State (that means Clemson needs to win by four or points to cover the spread).

Purdum said this week’s line also reflects sportsbooks’ “increased respect” for Florida State. The Seminoles were ranked No. 23 nationally after a 4-0 start but have dropped consecutive games to ranked Wake Forest and NC State teams by a combined 12 points.

“I think if we would have looked at this line before the season, Clemson would probably have been a touchdown favorite,” Purdum said. “I think Florida State has surprised people. They continue to play well. Even in their losses they played well.”

Clemson is 3-3 against the spread this season and 2-1 ATS in road/neutral-site games, while FSU is 4-2 against the spread this season and 1-2 ATS at home.

The Tigers are 7-3 overall against the spread in their last 10 games against FSU. This is also the seventh straight year Clemson has been favored against FSU but its lowest point spread as a favorite against FSU since 2011 (-1.5), per Odds Shark.

Next Clemson game

Who: No. 4 Clemson (6-0, 4-0 ACC) at Florida State (4-2, 2-2 ACC)

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee

TV: ABC

This story was originally published October 12, 2022 12:48 PM.

Profile Image of Chapel Fowler

Chapel Fowler has covered Clemson football, among other topics, for The State since June 2022. He’s a Denver, NC, native, a 2020 UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus and a pickup basketball enthusiast with previous stops at the Fayetteville (NC) Observer and Chatham. (NC) News + Record. His work has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the North Carolina Press Association and the Associated College Press.

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