Cal favored over Hawaii as college football season begins in Australia

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The California Golden Bears will begin the post-Jared Goff era as big betting favorites against the Hawaii Warriors at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in the opener of the college football season on Friday night down at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

The Pac-12’s Golden Bears are listed as 20-point betting favorites against the Mountain West’s  Warriors entering this unique matchup in Australia. California went 8-5 straight-up and 6-7 against the spread last season with Goff before he became the Los Angeles Rams’ No. 1 overall choice.

California is not completely barren at quarterback. Davis Webb is a graduate transfer who was a two-year starter at Texas Tech, whose four-receiver passing attack is the template for the system Bears coach Sonny Dykes teaches.

California is 7-2 SU in their last nine season openers. Since 2011, they are 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS when favored by at least 17 points, but that includes a 3-0 ATS mark when the spread is 20 or more. The Golden Bears are 7-3 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games against Mountain West opponents according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

Cal’s rushing attack is diverse with the rotation of Khalfani Muhummad, Vic Enwere and Tre Watson. The Golden Bears have lost their top six receivers (by yardage), but freshman wide receiver Demetris Robertson is a five-star recruit who is expected to make an impact quickly. Defensive tackle James Looney is an imposing run-stopper.

The Warriors, due in part to a financially strapped athletic department, are long removed from the heady days of 2007 when they had an unbeaten regular season and played in the Sugar Bowl. Hawaii was 3-10 both SU and ATS in 2015.

The Warriors do boast 1,100-yard rusher Paul Harris and a senior QB, Ikaika Woolsey. Exactly how rookie head coach Nick Rolovich and a new Hawaii coaching staff deploy them remains to be seen, but Hawaii has enough experience (eight returning starters) to be competitive. The Warriors’ defense ranked 104th of the 127 FBS teams last season.

Hawaii is 2-7 SU and 7-2 ATS in its last nine matchups against Pac-12 teams. Six of those nine games went under the total. Hawaii, which boasts Sydney native DE Max Hendrie on its roster, is also 6-4 ATS in its last 10 games as an underdog of 17 or more points.

The total is set at 63 points for Friday’s Cal vs. Hawaii matchup. The total has gone under in 13 of Hawaii’s last 18 games with a closing total of 63.0 or more. The total has gone under in seven of California’s last 10 games.

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.