Savannah State, a 3,600-student school that plays one level below the sport’s top echelon, opened its season last week with an 84-0 loss at Oklahoma State. Florida State, ranked sixth in the Associated Press poll, is 1-0 after routing Murray State 69- 3 on Sept. 1. Its enrollment is 40,800.
The game, scheduled for tomorrow in Tallahassee, Florida, led Cantor Gaming to open Savannah State as more than 10- touchdown underdogs at its seven Las Vegas sports books.
“Everybody knows Florida State is much better than this team, but there’s a little bit of guesswork about how long they’re going to play their players, whether they’re going to actually run the score up,” Mike Colbert, who sets the betting lines for Cantor Gaming, said in a telephone interview. “I respect anybody who actually bets it because you’re going to have to have some gamble in you.”
RJ Bell, the founder of Las Vegas-based handicapping information website Pregame.com, said college football’s highest previous game-time point spread was 60 points, with Hawaii favored over Northern Colorado in 2007. Oklahoma State opened as a 67-point favorite against Savannah State last week and went off at -58 at kickoff, Bell said.
Colbert said Cantor Gaming, which is owned by Cantor Fitzgerald LP, has set a $10,000 limit for a wager on the Florida State-Savannah State game. He said 75 percent of the early bets have been on Savannah State and the biggest individual wager is about $200. Cantor Gaming operates sports books at the M Resort Spa Casino, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Tropicana Las Vegas, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and three others owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS)
Colbert said if Florida State doesn’t take out its starters and plays hard the whole game tomorrow, the Seminoles would probably win by 100 points.
“If we were actually going to put a true number on it, it would be closer to 80 than 70,” he said. “But with Clemson and Wake Forest on deck -- two pretty good division rivals -- I think Florida State will pull their guys pretty early. Then again, their backups are better than Savannah State’s starters, so I expect they’ll continue to score.”
Other Las Vegas sports books, such as the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book, won’t put up a betting line on the game until tomorrow. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said he’s not making any predictions about what the score might be.
“I have a problem saying, ‘OK, we’re going to win this game by a bunch of points,’” Fisher said. “We don’t want to ever embarrass anybody or anything of that nature.”
Savannah State had a 1-10 record last season, including 1-7 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which includes teams such as Norfolk State and Bethune-Cookman, and plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA.
The Savannah, Georgia, school got $385,000 for last week’s game against Oklahoma State and will collect $475,000 for the Florida State matchup, said spokesman Opio Mashariki. Together, that will cover 17 percent of the school’s $5.1 million athletic department budget.
Tigers coach Steve Davenport said his team has no illusions about competing with nationally ranked football programs such as Oklahoma State or Florida State.
“Our goal is to win the conference championship,” Davenport said. “We have got another preseason game in Tallahassee, then our season gets under way. That is where we are.”
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