DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 10:  Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners looks on as Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners works through pregame warmups before taking on the Texas Longhorns during the AT&T Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl on October 10, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Sooners heavy favorites on odds to win Big 12 conference title

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As far as the oddsmakers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com are concerned, the Oklahoma Sooners and the Big 12 is the big one.

Coach Mike Stoops’ Sooners, with established senior quarterback Baker Mayfield and Heisman Trophy hopeful Samaje Perine at running back, are listed at -140, better than even money, on the conference champion futures board. The Sooners have their sights set on a return visit to the College Football Playoff after being a semifinalist in 2015.

However, it’s not unheard of in college football for a team who considered a conference championship a mere means to an end to stumble. A lopsided futures board, where the Oklahoma State Cowboys and TCU Horned Frogs are the nominal second favorites at +500, offers ample fodder for a longshot play.

Oklahoma State, perennially in the Sooners’ shadow, won their first 10 games in 2015 before fading at the end of the season. However, quarterback Mason Rudolph has the position all to himself after rotating last season. The Cowboys also expect better results in the rushing phase with an improved offensive line and the addition of transfer running back Barry J. Sanders, son of the former Heisman winner and Hall of Famer.

Oklahoma State, though, doesn’t appear to be in their rivals’ class when it comes to playing defense.

The Horned Frogs have lost their top two quarterbacks, top two rushers and three of their top four receivers from 2015, along with four-fifths of the offensive line. Such turnover is part of the college game however, and TCU coach Gary Patterson has delivered a double-digit win total in six of the last eight seasons. Potential TCU starting quarterback Kenny Hill is also a former starter at Texas A&M.

The Texas Longhorns, who beat the Sooners last season in the Red River Rivalry, are listed at +750 on the odds to win the Big 12. The Longhorns had losing records during coach Charlie Strong’s first two seasons, and Strong might need to deliver results soon in order to keep his job. Texas is projected to start a true freshman at quarterback, Shane Buechele, which hardly seems like a good omen.

The fallout from a sexual assault scandal and subsequent ouster of coach Art Briles has led to the Baylor Bears being listed at +800. However, the effects of that embarrassment might not affect the Bears’ on-field fortunes immediately with senior quarterback Seth Russell back to lead an offense which is almost always among the Football Bowl Subdivision leaders.

The West Virginia Mountaineers (+1200) and Texas Tech Red Raiders (+2500) promise to score plenty of points through their air-aid passing schemes. However, both teams have often proven to give up their share as well, which usually isn’t a recipe for winning a conference.

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.