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Michigan, Ohio State co-favorites at top of Big Ten champion odds

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Entering year two of the Jim Harbaugh era, Michigan is level with archrival Ohio State at the top of the Big Ten champion futures board at sportsbooks monitored by

Harbaugh’s revival of the maize and blue has led to the Wolverines being installed as co-favorites alongside the Buckeyes, with each holding identical +175 odds. Michigan’s climb up the board also means that the Michigan State Spartans might be undervalued at +700.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer will need to call upon his proven ability to reload quickly. The Buckeyes return only six starters from a year ago, although one is star quarterback J.T. Barrett. The talent level at Ohio State is still mouth-watering, but bettors will have to decide how they feel about the Buckeyes’ chances in a daunting September 17 road game against the Oklahoma Sooners. That top-ten matchup won’t affect conference standings, but a loss could affect the Buckeyes’ morale.

Michigan returns 14 starters, including eight on a defense now coordinated by Don Brown, who oversaw the nation’s No. 1 defense last season at Boston College. Whether the Wolverines will push Ohio State – which has home field for their November 26 rivalry game – might come down to quarterback play. Michigan is counting on Houston transfer John O’Korn to deliver the ball to their trio of senior receivers that includes tight end Jake Butt.

It is possible some fans might not identify Michigan State as one of the six Power 5 teams which has an .800 winning percentage since 2010. The Spartans, with likely high NFL draft pick Malik McDowell as the fulcrum of their rugged defense, should give offenses headaches once again. Michigan State’s offense is a blank slate. Fifth-year senior quarterback Tyler O’Connor might represent a step down from Connor Cook, while there isn’t a wide receiver on the roster who had more than seven catches last season.

The Big Ten West offers two darkhorses, with the Iowa Hawkeyes and Nebraska Cornhuskers each listed at +900 on the college football betting lines. Of the two, Iowa is the one whose prop owes more to past performance. Everything went right for Iowa early last season while starting 12-0, but that eventually culminated in losses in both the Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl. They could be due for a step back, even with quarterback C.J. Beathard and shutdown cover cornerback Desmond King among their 13 returning starters.

The law of averages would suggest a better fate is in store for Nebraska after a 6-7 season where it lost five games by less than a one-touchdown margin. The Cornhuskers project to have seven seniors starting on offense, including quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr., so they will be well-equipped for high-scoring games. To get in contention, though, Nebraska needs to coach up their inexperienced front four. Their pass defense, which ranked No. 122 (of 128 teams) last season, has nowhere to go but up.

The Wisconsin Badgers, who are listed at +1400 odds, appear to be on a downswing. The Badgers’ famed rushing attack was garden-variety last season. Meanwhile, post-Christian Hackenberg Penn State is listed at +1800, followed by the Northwestern Wildcats (+3300) and Minnesota Golden Gophers (+4400). The Indiana Hoosiers, Illinois Fighting Illini and Maryland Terrapins are all listed at +5000, with the Purdue Boilermakers and Rutgers Scarlet Knights at +10000 each.

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 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 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