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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 betting favorite over Clemson in National Championship

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Led by linebacker Tim Williams and a hellacious defense, the Alabama Crimson Tide have got better at beating oddsmakers’ expectations during their pursuit of a repeat national championship.

Alabama is listed as the 6-point favorite against the Clemson Tigers with a 50.5-point total for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Tampa on Monday night at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Alabama is 7-2 against the spread in its last nine games as a favorite on the college football odds, and is also 4-2 ATS in its last six games when it was favored by 4.5 to 10 points. In last season’s national championship game, though, Clemson accounted for one of the two covers. Clemson is 6-1 SU in its last seven games after losing the previous game in a matchup.

The Tigers, who are 13-1 SU and 7-7 ATS, are once again a worthy challenger to Alabama as Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson embarks on his last college game before leaving for the NFL.

Watson and RB Wayne Gallman successfully running against the likes of Williams, MLB Rashaan Evans and OLB Reuben Foster could prove difficult, as Alabama has the nation’s No. 1 run defense. The Tigers do have an athletic receiving corps led by WR Mike Williams and TE Jordan Leggett and even Alabama might not be able to completely shut them down.

Watson is coming off a two-interception performance against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and will need to be disciplined against the takeaway-happy Tide.

The major question about the Crimson Tide, who are 14-0 SU and 10-4 ATS, is how much liberty freshman QB Jalen Hurts will have after the coaching shake-up following the Peach Bowl. Newly arrived offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will be in his first game calling plays for Hurts after the ouster of Lane Kiffin.

Alabama and LT Cam Robinson can often exert their will in the rushing phase without being complemented by a dynamic passing attack, but Clemson has a stout defense led by DT Carlos Watkins and DE Christian Watkins. The Tigers were able to shut down a more seasoned dual threat QB, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, in the Fiesta Bowl.

Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough is a bruising ball carrier who could be essential to tiring out the Tigers defense. Both WR Calvin Ridley and WR ArDarius Stewart have the size and speed to win one-on-one battles downfield – provided Hurts has the time and precision to find them.

Alabama is 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games in the postseason. The total has gone UNDER in four of Clemson’s last five games on a Monday. The total has gone UNDER in four of Alabama’s last five games against teams with winning records.

College Football Playoff semifinals: Ohio State, Alabama set as favorites

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While they are the second-best and third-best teams in the country by any measure, Clemson and Ohio State carry some negative against-the-spread trends into the Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal this weekend.

The Buckeyes are listed as 3-point favorites against the Tigers with a 58.5-point total, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. In the Peach Bowl, the early semifinal on Saturday, the No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are 14-point betting favorites against the Washington Huskies with a 52.5-point total.

Ohio State is only 2-6 ATS over their last eight games while Clemson is 1-5 ATS in their last six games against teams with winning records.

Clemson (12-1 SU, 6-7 ATS) is bolstered by NFL- bound QB Deshaun Watson’s passing and a voracious pass rush that has amassed 46 sacks. Football Outsiders rates Ohio State second nationally (after Alabama) in defensive efficiency, and cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore won’t be easy pickings for star WR Mike Williams and the other Clemson receivers. The Buckeyes also have the speed to counter Watson’s scrambling.

Ohio State (11-1 SU, 6-6 ATS) is not as explosive offensively as Clemson, and the 11 sacks they allowed on QB J.T. Barrett over their last two games is a troubling trend to take into a matchup against the Tigers. However, with Barrett, RB Mike Weber and H-back Curtis Samuel, the Buckeyes inevitably get scoring opportunities. Clemson’s defense can also struggle to generate turnovers, so there could be some long Ohio State drives on Friday.

The total has gone over in Clemson’s last four games according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

Washington (12-1 SU, 7-6 ATS), led by QB Jake Browning, has the country’s fourth-highest scoring offense while Alabama is first in scoring defense by a fair margin. The only SEC offenses which had success against DE Jonathan Allen, OLB Reuben Foster and the vaunted Alabama defense in the regular season were Arkansas and Mississippi, who run the same fast-paced spread attack as the Huskies. If Washington is up to blocking Allen and fellow DE Dalvin Tomlinson – a big if – it might be able to move the ball.

Alabama (13-0 SU, 9-4 ATS) is the deeper team on each side of the ball. The Huskies defense allows only 17 points per game, but has shown vulnerability since the season-ending injuries to MLB Azeem Victor and OLB Joe Mathis. The only QB to defeat Washington this season, Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold, is also a scrambler, somewhat like Crimson Tide QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts has turned the ball over 14 times on fumbles and interceptions and Washington does excel at takeaways.

The Crimson Tide are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against teams with winning records heading into the Peach Bowl. The total has gone over in seven of Washington’s last 10 games against teams with winning records.