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Odds Are, Scoring Will Be Down

September 02, 2006|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

College football coaches around the nation are throwing up their hands in anguish over new rule 3-2-5-e.

But in Las Vegas, oddsmakers are scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to maintain an edge on uncharted turf.

After a change of possession, the new rule requires the clock to start after the official spots the ball rather than after the snap. It's an attempt to speed up play.

"It is the most bizarre rule I've ever seen," said Ken White, chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, the organization that sets the starting betting line used by most sports books.

White was speaking Friday after only seven college games had been played this season, but he already had a pretty good idea how the shortened game would affect the odds.

"We're looking at 8% lower right now," he said. "The spreads will be that much lower and so will the [overs and unders.] So if that number was 60, now its 55. Fifty goes to 46 and so on down.

"We were thinking the game would be about five minutes shorter, but now we're thinking it's closer to eight minutes. In extreme cases, up to 10 minutes."

According to White's figures, the average college football game from 2000 to 2005 had 138 plays. The median figure of the first seven games played this season was 120, 13% fewer.

"I think bettors will overreact to this at first and bet the under," White said, "though the average bettor doesn't like to bet the under. The pros [among bettors] will jump on this."

White says he thinks underdogs, in general, will benefit.

"Fewer plays will keep it closer," he said. "It's like taking the air out of the basketball."

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steve.springer@latimes.com

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