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Odds Preview: College Football Playoff, New Year’s Six bowl games

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Ohio State and Clemson each take some negative trends into the betting matchup for the Fiesta Bowl, the second College Football Playoff semifinal set for New Year’s Eve.

The Buckeyes are listed as three-point favorites on the college football bowl game odds against the Tigers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Ohio State is 2-6 against the spread over its last eight games. That is barely better than the 1-5 ATS mark the Tigers have in their last six games against teams with winning records.

Each team’s offense averages 40-plus points. The Buckeyes, led by QB J.T. Barrett and RB Mike Weber, have the more efficient attack. The Tigers, with star QB Deshaun Watson and TE Jordan Leggett, are more explosive. The game might come down to which defense is more disruptive. Clemson has racked up 46 sacks, while S Malik Hooker and the Buckeyes thrive at causing turnovers.

The storied programs met in the 2014 Orange Bowl, with Clemson winning. Ohio State is 11-1 SU after losing the previous game in a matchup.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are favored by 16.5 points against the Washington Huskies in the other CFP semifinal, the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on December 31. Huskies QB Jake Browning, who struggled with reads against Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship Game, is facing OLB Reuben Foster and the No. 1-ranked scoring defense. Alabama QB Jalen Hurts could hurt the Huskies with his mobility, but Washington should not be written off totally.

The Michigan Wolverines are seven-point favorites against the Florida State Seminoles on the Orange Bowl odds, with that game taking place on December 30 in Miami. The Seminoles’ 8-0 SU streak will be on the line as superstar RB Dalvin Cook faces Michigan’s No. 2-ranked defense. Michigan, presuming QB Wilton Speight is healthy, should be able to put up some points against FSU, which allows 24 points per game.

The Wisconsin Badgers are 7.5-point favorites against the Western Michigan Broncos in the Cotton Bowl, the early New Year Six’s game on January 2. The speedy Broncos are 4-0 ATS in their last four games against the Big Ten and have great catalysts such as WR Corey Davis and DE Keion Adams. Wisconsin, with OLB T.J. Watt and CB Shelton Sojourn, can play lights-out defense.

The USC Trojans are favored by seven against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Rose Bowl. Penn State is 8-0 ATS over its last eight games but hasn’t seen a passing game like Southern Cal’s, which is led by QB Sam Darnold and future NFL WR JuJu Schuster-Smith. Penn State QB Trace McSorley is hard to shut down, but LB Michael Hutchings and Southern Cal’s defense has been very solid for the last two months.

The Oklahoma Sooners are 4.5-point favorites against the Auburn Tigers in the Sugar Bowl. Auburn is 7-2 ATS over its last nine games and will trot out an efficient pass defense against Oklahoma’s irresistible combo of QB Baker Mayfield and WR Dede Westbrook. The Sooners’ major weakness, pass defense (119th nationally in aerial yards allowed), might not matter much against the Tigers (112th in passing yards).

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.