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Alabama Leads LSU, Tennessee on Odds to Win SEC Championship

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Nick Saban’s juggernaut Alabama Crimson Tide are the top team in the Southeastern Conference until an opponent shows otherwise, which is why they are atop the odds to win the SEC championship for the season ahead at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The defending national champions have a new starting quarterback, Cooper Bateman, and a sophomore running back, Bo Scarborough, at the front of the line to replace Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. The Crimson Tide never rebuild; they merely reload. Consequently, they are listed at +175 to win the conference.

However, Alabama faces a gauntlet of tough SEC  games, with an early September 17 showdown against their recent nemesis Mississippi Rebels, as well as road tests against the LSU Tigers and Tennessee Volunteers.

Alabama is vying to become the first SEC team since the 1993-96 Florida Gators to three-peat. Alabama’s biggest obstacle looms in the form of LSU, who are listed at +350. The Tigers are led by dynamic RB Leonard Fournette and have an experienced offense. They will also host the annual showdown with Alabama on the first Saturday in November. That November 5 game could decide who represents the SEC West in the championship game on December 3 in Atlanta.

At +900, the Auburn Tigers have longer odds than they deserve. It is unimaginable that Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who has won two SEC titles, will allow his team to have another mediocre record like 2015’s 7-6 mark. Four of Auburn’s losses were by eight or fewer points, meaning a turnaround is not that far out of reach.

The Mississippi Rebels, led by QB Chad Kelly, are listed at +1000. Mississippi has defeated Alabama two seasons in a row. The Rebels have the daunting task of playing LSU and Auburn back-to-back in October. Surviving that stretch will be tough.

The SEC East has not produced the conference champion since Tim Tebow was a junior at Florida in 2008. The Tennessee Volunteers, who are listed at +650, are out to reverse the trend. Dual-threat QB Joshua Dobbs fronts a Vols team that has 18 returning starters. The Vols won’t necessarily have to beat Alabama on October 15 to win the East, but being competitive against the Tide could boost their confidence for a title-game rematch.

The Georgia Bulldogs, who are listed at +900 on those college football odds, will be an interesting follow for two reasons. New coach Kirby Smart, formerly Alabama’s defensive coordinator, will be eager to reinvigorate his alma mater. Star RB Nick Chubb might not be fully recovered from the leg injury he suffered in October until a few weeks into the season, but many observers feel he is toe-to-toe with Fournette as the conference’s best running back.

Georgia, Florida or Tennessee have combined to win the East 21 times in 24 seasons. Alabama, Auburn and LSU have combined to win the West 20 times.

Alabama the Betting Favorite against Georgia in CFP Championship Game

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It has been all or nothing when the Alabama Crimson Tide have a betting line as tight as the one Nick Saban’s team faces against the Georgia Bulldogs in the national title game.

Alabama is a four-point favorite against Georgia with a 45.5-point total in the College Football Playoff Championship Game matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The all-SEC tilt takes place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday.

The OddsShark College Football Database has turned up an odd pattern with Alabama: it is 4-4 straight-up and against the spread in its last eight games as a favorite of 5.5 or fewer points, alternating covers with outright defeats (the most recent instance was its loss against Auburn in November, for what that is worth). Georgia is 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS over the last two seasons as an underdog of 5.5 or fewer points.

Going against Alabama means setting aside its 24-1 SU record in its last 25 games against SEC teams, as well as the 11-0 SU record of Saban-coached teams against opponents led by any of his former assistant coaches. Georgia, guided by Kirby Smart (a former Alabama defensive coordinator), won as an underdog against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl on Monday and it is 10-0 SU in its last 10 games after winning as an underdog.

Georgia, which is 13-1 SU and 10-4 ATS, will be trying to beat Alabama at its own game, relying offensively on a lethal rushing game built around their Nick Chubb-Sony Michel rushing tandem and a defense led by OLB Roquan Smith.

The typical formula to beat Alabama begins and ends with transcendent quarterback play – think Clemson and Deshaun Watson in the 2016 championship, or college-level Johnny Manziel in 2012. Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm will be trying to be the first true freshman QB to win a national title since 1985 (Hurts nearly did so last season).

It seems like a tall order for a run-based offense to succeed against Alabama, which allows just 2.8 yards per rush (second-lowest nationally). But Georgia is much more efficient than Clemson.

Alabama, which is 12-1 SU and 6-7 ATS overall, got a major statement during the Sugar Bowl from its offensive line, which held up well against a vaunted Clemson defensive line, but Georgia’s defense grades out better statistically than Clemson’s. Hurts, who was turnover-free against Clemson, will need to show enough of a passing threat to keep Smith and fellow OLB Lorenzo Carter honest, rather than selling out to stop the run.

The Crimson Tide does have an ace in the hole – the hole perhaps being in the deep middle of the Georgia secondary – in that WR Calvin Ridley will be the most talented receiver on the field on Monday. Bulldogs FS J.R. Reed will have the critical task of containing Ridley.

Alabama’s running back combo of Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough might not be as well-known as their Bulldogs counterparts. However, like Georgia, Alabama is in the top 10 nationally in overall rushing and yards per carry.

Alabama is only 1-4 ATS in its last five games in January. However, the smallest line in any of those games was 6.5 points.

The Crimson Tide are No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense, while the Bulldogs are No. 4 in fewest points allowed despite playing in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl (102 total). There are some pronounced over trends, though. The total has gone over in five of Georgia’s last seven games against its conference. The total has also gone over in five of Alabama’s last six games in January.

 

New Year’s Six Bowl Games: Betting Lines and Trends for Matchups

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Stars come and go, but if trends are any indication, Alabama and Clemson’s rubber match should have plenty of scoring and a down-to-the-wire finish.

The Alabama Crimson Tide, led by quarterback Jalen Hurts, are three-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com against the Clemson Tigers in the Sugar Bowl  matchup that will cap off the New Year’s Six slate of bowl games on January 1.

Alabama nabbed the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff and a rematch with defending national champion Clemson at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans despite losing its regular-season finale against archrival Auburn. Alabama is 11-1 straight-up in its last 12 games after a loss. However, the Tide are a mere 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games after losing as a favorite.

Clemson is 5-3 SU and 7-1 ATS as an underdog over the last four seasons. The total has gone over in Clemson’s last four games in January. The total has also gone over in five of Alabama’s last six games against the Atlantic Coast Conference.

In the first semifinal, the Georgia Bulldogs are 2.5-point favorites against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl matchup at Pasadena, California, on Monday. Georgia is 1-3 ATS in its last four games on a three-game SU win streak. Oklahoma is 5-1 ATS in its last six games. The total has gone under in five of Georgia’s last seven games against the Big 12. The total has gone under in seven of Oklahoma’s last eight games against the SEC.

The winning teams advance to the national championship game, which takes place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on January 8.

Also Monday, the Auburn Tigers are 9.5-point favorites against the UCF Golden Knights with a 67-point total in the Peach Bowl, a matchup that is also based in Atlanta. Auburn, whose title hopes were dashed with a loss against Georgia in early December, is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games after a loss. Central Florida is 4-1 ATS in its last five games as an underdog. The total has gone under in seven of Central Florida’s last eight games against the SEC.

The Wisconsin Badgers are a 4.5-point favorite against the Miami Hurricanes with a 45.5-point total in the Orange Bowl, which is Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Wisconsin is 4-1 ATS in its last five games. Miami is 1-7 SU in its last eight games in December. The total has gone UNDER in nine of Miami’s last 10 games.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are a two-point favorite against the Washington Huskies with a 55-point total in the Fiesta Bowl, which is Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Penn State is 10-2 SU and 11-1 ATS in its last 12 games on a three game SU winning streak. Washington is 4-0 SU in its last four games against the Big Ten. The total has gone over in Washington’s last three games.

And the Ohio State Buckeyes are 7.5-point favorites against the USC Trojans with a 65-point total in the Cotton Bowl Classic, which is Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Ohio State is 11-2 ATS in its last 13 games against the Pac-12. Southern Cal is 1-8 SU and ATS in its last nine games as an underdog. The total has gone over in both eight of Ohio State’s last 10 games and in five of USC’s last seven games.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.