LSU, Louisville, USC headline college football favorites in Week 12

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Six weeks and a coaching change later, the LSU Tigers are probably better equipped to take on the Florida Gators.

The Tigers are the 13.5-point favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com against the banged-up Gators in a matchup that was rescheduled due to Hurricane Matthew. The visiting team is 1-4 straight-up and against the spread in the last five editions of this matchup, while LSU is 2-7 ATS in its last nine games in Week 12.

Since Ed Orgeron became interim coach after Les Miles’ termination, the Tigers are 4-1 SU. The Tigers suffered a shutout loss against No. 1 Alabama in their last home outing, but are 13-0 SU at Tiger Stadium after losing their previous home game.

The Gators are banged-up with OLB Alex Anzalone, MLB Jarrad Davis and S Marcus Maye sidelined, which might help LSU in a battle of attrition. Primary RB Leonard Fournette (ankle) has aggravated an injury, but Derrius Guice is a capable understudy.

In a Thursday game, Heisman Trophy favorite Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals are favored by 14.5 on the road against the Houston Cougars. Houston has a quick defensive front that stands a good chance at turning Jackson into a pocket passer. Cougars QB Greg Ward Jr. (shoulder) has been playing hurt recently, but with defensive leaders such as ILB Keith Kelsey and CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville should avoid a total collapse.

The Oklahoma Sooners are the 2.5-point road favorite against the West Virginia Mountaineers. Sooners QB Baker Mayfield is more consistent than WVU counterpart Skyler Howard, and has game-breaking WR Dede Westbrook to help extend a 14-game conference win streak. West Virginia and S Kyzir White have won – by Big 12 standards – some tight defensive battles, but doing that against the Sooners might be daunting.

The TCU Horned Frogs are favored by 4.5 points against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Frogs are coming off a bye week and QB Kenny Hill will be complemented by now healthy starters such as WR Deante Gray, G Patrick Morris and WR/KR KaVontae Turpin. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph will also face a good TCU pass rush. The home team has won all of the teams’ meetings since the Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012.

The Colorado Buffaloes are also favored by 4.5 against the Washington State Cougars in a showdown between the Pac-12’s unlikely divisional leaders. The visiting team is 5-1 ATS in the last six editions of the matchup. Colorado is in the top 10 in the country in scoring defense, but shutting down QB Luke Falk and the Cougars’ Air Raid attack for 60 minutes could be daunting.

And the USC Trojans are favored by 12 against the cross-town rival UCLA Bruins. The line might be inflated in USC’s favor since it is fresh off defeating Washington, but QB Sam Darnold is backed up by a reliable rushing attack and Bruins QB Mike Fafaul is not. The Trojans are  2-5 SU and 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games after winning their most recent road game, but CB Adoree’ Jackson gives them greater capability of inducing game-changing turnovers.

Alabama the Betting Favorite against Georgia in CFP Championship Game

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It has been all or nothing when the Alabama Crimson Tide have a betting line as tight as the one Nick Saban’s team faces against the Georgia Bulldogs in the national title game.

Alabama is a four-point favorite against Georgia with a 45.5-point total in the College Football Playoff Championship Game matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The all-SEC tilt takes place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday.

The OddsShark College Football Database has turned up an odd pattern with Alabama: it is 4-4 straight-up and against the spread in its last eight games as a favorite of 5.5 or fewer points, alternating covers with outright defeats (the most recent instance was its loss against Auburn in November, for what that is worth). Georgia is 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS over the last two seasons as an underdog of 5.5 or fewer points.

Going against Alabama means setting aside its 24-1 SU record in its last 25 games against SEC teams, as well as the 11-0 SU record of Saban-coached teams against opponents led by any of his former assistant coaches. Georgia, guided by Kirby Smart (a former Alabama defensive coordinator), won as an underdog against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl on Monday and it is 10-0 SU in its last 10 games after winning as an underdog.

Georgia, which is 13-1 SU and 10-4 ATS, will be trying to beat Alabama at its own game, relying offensively on a lethal rushing game built around their Nick Chubb-Sony Michel rushing tandem and a defense led by OLB Roquan Smith.

The typical formula to beat Alabama begins and ends with transcendent quarterback play – think Clemson and Deshaun Watson in the 2016 championship, or college-level Johnny Manziel in 2012. Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm will be trying to be the first true freshman QB to win a national title since 1985 (Hurts nearly did so last season).

It seems like a tall order for a run-based offense to succeed against Alabama, which allows just 2.8 yards per rush (second-lowest nationally). But Georgia is much more efficient than Clemson.

Alabama, which is 12-1 SU and 6-7 ATS overall, got a major statement during the Sugar Bowl from its offensive line, which held up well against a vaunted Clemson defensive line, but Georgia’s defense grades out better statistically than Clemson’s. Hurts, who was turnover-free against Clemson, will need to show enough of a passing threat to keep Smith and fellow OLB Lorenzo Carter honest, rather than selling out to stop the run.

The Crimson Tide does have an ace in the hole – the hole perhaps being in the deep middle of the Georgia secondary – in that WR Calvin Ridley will be the most talented receiver on the field on Monday. Bulldogs FS J.R. Reed will have the critical task of containing Ridley.

Alabama’s running back combo of Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough might not be as well-known as their Bulldogs counterparts. However, like Georgia, Alabama is in the top 10 nationally in overall rushing and yards per carry.

Alabama is only 1-4 ATS in its last five games in January. However, the smallest line in any of those games was 6.5 points.

The Crimson Tide are No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense, while the Bulldogs are No. 4 in fewest points allowed despite playing in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl (102 total). There are some pronounced over trends, though. The total has gone over in five of Georgia’s last seven games against its conference. The total has also gone over in five of Alabama’s last six games in January.

 

New Year’s Six Bowl Games: Betting Lines and Trends for Matchups

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Stars come and go, but if trends are any indication, Alabama and Clemson’s rubber match should have plenty of scoring and a down-to-the-wire finish.

The Alabama Crimson Tide, led by quarterback Jalen Hurts, are three-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com against the Clemson Tigers in the Sugar Bowl  matchup that will cap off the New Year’s Six slate of bowl games on January 1.

Alabama nabbed the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff and a rematch with defending national champion Clemson at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans despite losing its regular-season finale against archrival Auburn. Alabama is 11-1 straight-up in its last 12 games after a loss. However, the Tide are a mere 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games after losing as a favorite.

Clemson is 5-3 SU and 7-1 ATS as an underdog over the last four seasons. The total has gone over in Clemson’s last four games in January. The total has also gone over in five of Alabama’s last six games against the Atlantic Coast Conference.

In the first semifinal, the Georgia Bulldogs are 2.5-point favorites against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl matchup at Pasadena, California, on Monday. Georgia is 1-3 ATS in its last four games on a three-game SU win streak. Oklahoma is 5-1 ATS in its last six games. The total has gone under in five of Georgia’s last seven games against the Big 12. The total has gone under in seven of Oklahoma’s last eight games against the SEC.

The winning teams advance to the national championship game, which takes place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on January 8.

Also Monday, the Auburn Tigers are 9.5-point favorites against the UCF Golden Knights with a 67-point total in the Peach Bowl, a matchup that is also based in Atlanta. Auburn, whose title hopes were dashed with a loss against Georgia in early December, is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games after a loss. Central Florida is 4-1 ATS in its last five games as an underdog. The total has gone under in seven of Central Florida’s last eight games against the SEC.

The Wisconsin Badgers are a 4.5-point favorite against the Miami Hurricanes with a 45.5-point total in the Orange Bowl, which is Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Wisconsin is 4-1 ATS in its last five games. Miami is 1-7 SU in its last eight games in December. The total has gone UNDER in nine of Miami’s last 10 games.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are a two-point favorite against the Washington Huskies with a 55-point total in the Fiesta Bowl, which is Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Penn State is 10-2 SU and 11-1 ATS in its last 12 games on a three game SU winning streak. Washington is 4-0 SU in its last four games against the Big Ten. The total has gone over in Washington’s last three games.

And the Ohio State Buckeyes are 7.5-point favorites against the USC Trojans with a 65-point total in the Cotton Bowl Classic, which is Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Ohio State is 11-2 ATS in its last 13 games against the Pac-12. Southern Cal is 1-8 SU and ATS in its last nine games as an underdog. The total has gone over in both eight of Ohio State’s last 10 games and in five of USC’s last seven games.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.