Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama favored on college football futures, but undervalued teams abound

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College football is overdue for a season that’s a departure from its hierarchical norms, which could pay off big-time for bettors who take a team that’s just a little outside the radar screen.

With the season due to kick off in a few weeks, the Alabama Crimson Tide (+275) are the heavy favorite on the odds to win the national championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Coach Nick Saban’s juggernaut still averaged nearly 39 points per game last season while breaking in then-freshman QB Jalen Hurts and, of course, they always reload on defense. Alabama’s schedule is also set up in a way that allow them plenty of time to recover if they lose to the Florida State Seminoles (+700) in their season opener in Atlanta on September 2.

The top tier of the board also includes the Ohio State Buckeyes (+600) and senior QB J.T. Barrett, who likely have the best shot at an undefeated regular season of any Power 5 team.

The prices on the USC Trojans (+700) and aforementioned Florida State probably reflects those programs’ traditions and their current raw talent – both USC and FSU have dynamic redshirt sophomore QBs in Deondre Francois and Sam Darnold, respectively – more than their on-field consistency.

It’s pragmatic to go with any of the big four. College football hasn’t seen a first-time national champion since the 1996 Florida Gators. However, if that’s not stirring enough, there are some darkhorses.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys (+5000) have a prolific offense behind QB Mason Rudolph and will have home field when they play the Oklahoma Sooners (+1400) in their rivalry game in November. Coach Mike Gundy’s Pokes also signaled last season that they can peak at the end of the year.

The Big 12 also offers the West Virginia Mountaineers (+10000), who are plugging transfer QB Will Grier into what was a top-20 offense. With the Big 12 adding a championship game, that could help it get its first representative in the College Football Playoff.

Out on the west coast, the Oregon Ducks (+7500) have something new to them – a returning starting QB in Justin Herbert – as well as a new coach, Willie Taggart, who was a turnaround artist at his last two stops. Oregon was in the national championship game two years ago, and teams that have been near the top typically have greater capacity to bounce right back up after a losing season.

The reigning champion Clemson Tigers (+2800) will still possess a stout defense, but the loss of QB Deshaun Watson to the NFL is too much to overcome.

 

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.

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).