College football Week 1 odds: Fighting Irish favorites at Texas

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Notre Dame’s quarterback drama has overshadowed the Fighting Irish’s relative inexperience, as well as their trouble covering on the road. The Fighting Irish are listed as 3.5-point favorites against the Texas Longhorns with a total of 60 points for their game in Texas on Sunday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Notre Dame is just 5-8 straight-up and 6-7 against the spread in its last 13 road games, according to the OddsShark College Football Database. That includes being 4-3 SU and 2-5 ATS in September road games since 2010.

Irish quarterbacks DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire are seasoned, but the same cannot be said of the Irish depth chart. Notre Dame has turned over more than half of its lineup and has graduated six of its top seven receivers, meaning a young group will be running routes against Texas’ skilled secondary.

However, the Irish have a strong offensive line and Texas struggled at stopping the run last season. The Longhorns, who are starting true freshman QB Shane Buechele, are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 outings as an underdog.

The total has gone over in eight of Notre Dame’s last 12 road games, and in 14 of its last 21.

Elsewhere, Labor Day weekend includes four Top 25 matchups.

The defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide are listed as 11.5-point favorites against the USC Trojans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, with a total of 53.5 points. The Crimson Tide, who are riding a 12-0 SU streak, are on a 4-1 both SU and ATS run in September games where they are favored by 14 or fewer points.

Coach Nick Saban should have another stout defense – including CB Marlon Humphrey – to get in the face of Southern Cal’s first-year starting QB Max Browne. The Trojans are 0-4 ATS in their last four outings as underdogs.

The Oklahoma Sooners are 11.5-point favorites against the No. 15 Houston Cougars at NRG Stadium, with a total of 68 points. The Sooners’ Baker Mayfield and the Cougars’ Greg Ward Jr. are each explosive, athletic QBs. Mayfield and his receivers are facing a Cougars secondary with four new starters. Since 2013, Houston is 7-0 ATS as an underdog of 7.5 points or more. The total has gone under in five of Houston’s last seven games.

In their debut under new coach Kirby Smart, the Georgia Bulldogs are 2.5-point favorites against the North Carolina Tar Heels, with a total of 56.5 points. Georgia is built around defense and RB Nick Chubb. North Carolina, 11-2 SU in their last 13 games, has high-scoring capability with junior QB Mitch Tribisky, but struggles in run defense.

Georgia is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games vs. ACC teams. The total has gone over in five of the Tar Heels’ last six games.

The Florida State Seminoles are four-point favorites against the Mississippi Rebels for their Monday matchup in Orlando, with an over/under of 57 points. Star Seminoles RB Dalvin Cook is facing a defense that has been patched up with graduate transfers Detric Bing-Dukes and Rommel Mageo.

Florida State is 6-0 SU in its last six games after losing as a favorite, but Mississippi is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games as an underdog.

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.