Ohio State Among Betting Favorites for College Football Rivalry Week

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J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State Buckeyes are hopeful home-field advantage gives them the edge against the Michigan Wolverines’ vaunted defense.

With College Football Playoff implications afoot, the Buckeyes are the 6.5-point betting favorite against Michigan at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Barrett and the Buckeyes, the fifth-highest scoring team in the country, will try to extend a trend of being 9-0 straight-up in home games following consecutive road games.

The line might reflect how the Big Ten rivalry has been lopsided with Ohio State going 11-1 SU in the last 12 meetings. The Buckeyes will need Barrett to be consistent against a Michigan defense which allows only 245 yards per game. The Wolverines have made a QB change to John O’Korn, but that shouldn’t detract from their strong rushing attack.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are the 12.5-point favorite against the Michigan State Spartans.  The Nittany Lions have made a habit of having slow starts, but QB Trace McSorley’s playmaking is an X-factor. Spartans seniors such as MLB Riley Bullough who are in their final career will try not to go out meekly, and MSU is 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 road games against teams with winning records.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are the 17-point betting favorite against the Auburn Tigers. It could be a low-scoring game since Alabama will try to keep the task simple for freshman QB Jalen Hurts. Auburn has allowed only two opponents to score 20 or more points and can control the clock with RB Kamryn Pettway. With QB Sean White injured, the Tigers might have issues passing. Alabama is 4-1 ATS in the last five editions of the Iron Bowl.

The Florida State Seminoles are the seven-point favorite against the Florida Gators. The visiting team is 5-0 ATS in the state rivals’ last five matchups. Caleb Brantley and Florida’s defensive line will need to reprise the effort they had last week against LSU to have any hope of shutting down Seminoles RB Dalvin Cook. The Gators are the more offensively challenged team.

The Washington Huskies are favored by six points on the road against the Washington State Cougars in a Friday matchup that will decide the Pac-12 North. The Cougars stack up as a sexy underdog but the Huskies, with CB Kevin King and CB Sidney Jones, present the biggest challenge that the Luke Falk-led Air Raid attack has faced. The Huskies, through RB Myles Gaskin, will probably make a conscious effort to control the clock.

And the Colorado Buffaloes, who are looking to clinch the Pac-12 South, are the 10-point betting favorite against the Utah Utes. Utah is 8-0 ATS in their last eight games against teams with winning records, but workhorse RB Joe Williams is facing a very solid Colorado defense. Colorado QB Sefo Liufau, complemented by RB Phillip Lindsay, also seems to have peaked at the right time.

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.