Still true! Early college football bowl point spreads show that reality has an SEC bias. Eleven of 14 conference teams earned bids. Nine of those 11 are favored to win their bowl games.
Unfortunately, if you’re a big SEC fan, you’ll have to wait until after Christmas to get your fix. The league doesn’t debut until December 27. Here’s a quick rundown of early point spreads in schedule order. The SEC team is listed first.
Texas Bowl (12/27): Vanderbilt -4.5 vs. Baylor
Music City Bowl (12/28): Auburn -4.5 vs. Purdue
Peach Bowl (12/29): Florida +7 vs. Michigan
Belk Bowl (12/29): South Carolina -4.5 vs. Virginia
Orange Bowl (12/29): Alabama -14 vs. Oklahoma
Liberty Bowl (12/31): Missouri -8.5 vs. Oklahoma State
Gator Bowl (12/31): Texas A&M -5.5 vs. NC State
Outback Bowl (1/1): Mississippi State -6 vs. Iowa
Citrus Bowl (1/1): Kentucky +5.5 vs. Penn State
Fiesta Bowl (1/1): LSU -7.5 vs. Central Florida
Rose Bowl (1/1): Georgia -10.5 vs. Texas
The only two underdog roles go to the seventh-best Power Rated team in the SEC (Florida), who’s getting a touchdown from the second-best Power Rated team in the Big 10 (Michigan)…and the ninth-best Power Rated team in the SEC (Kentucky) getting 5.5 points from the third-best Power Rated team in the Big 10 (Penn State).
Worth noting the respectable size of the spreads too. The SEC is favored by at least 4.5 points in all nine chalk roles (“chalk” is Vegas slang for favorites because point spreads used to be written on chalk boards). Barring injuries or suspensions, it’s extremely unlikely than any of the opposing underdogs would be bet so hard that the favorites would flip.
You may have noticed that championship finalists in the SEC (Alabama and Georgia) are both favored by double digits over championship finalists in the Big 12 (Oklahoma and Texas).
If you’re thinking about betting on SEC teams throughout the bowl slate, be aware of these general strategies:
▪ Bet favorites EARLY, because the general public typically takes favorites. That could drive the lines higher before kickoff. Better to lay -4.5 now than -6 on game day.
▪ Bet underdogs LATE, because patience might get you a few extra points, or even a half-point that you would have missed out on by betting early.
We’ll talk more about market dynamics and handicapping analytics for those matchups later in the month.
▪ Southern Miss didn’t receive a postseason bid despite becoming bowl eligible with a blowout of UTEP in its regular season finale. Only room for six teams from Conference USA. Southern Miss had the seventh best full-season record at 6-5 (one weather cancellation).
Southern Miss finished 5-3 in CUSA action, tied with North Texas and Louisiana Tech. After early betting, North Texas was +10 against Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl (12/15). Louisiana Tech was +2.5 at Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl (12/22).
▪ You know the point spreads for the national semifinals. If you were wondering about the money lines (betting to win the game straight up), Alabama is currently in the range of -600 (risk $60 to win $10, or anything in that ratio that the Crimson Tide will advance), while Oklahoma is around +450 (risk $10 to win $45). Clemson is in the vicinity of -420 to defeat Notre Dame, with the Fighting Irish earning around +340 to score the upset. As always, check your local stores for the current available prices.
▪ The Westgate in Las Vegas posted updated futures odds to win the title soon after the matchups were announced. Alabama is the heavy favorite at 4/9 (69%). Clemson is next at 3/1 (25%).
Oklahoma at 10/1 (9%) and Notre Dame 12/1 (8%) are longshots because each would likely have to score two major upsets to celebrate in confetti. You’ll note those four percentage equivalents add up to 111%. Sports books build a universe larger than 100% to create a house edge.
▪ If you’re thinking of taking a flyer on either big underdog to go 2-0 in the playoffs, it’s MUCH better to plan out a “rollover parlay.” Let’s say you were going to bet $100 on Notre Dame to win the championship. Instead of putting that $100 on the Irish at 12/1 (or whatever you see at your local shop), bet $100 on the money line vs. Clemson to earn around $340. If ND wins…take everything that’s returned (the full $440) and bet THAT on the Irish in the championship game (possibly as high as +600 vs. Alabama). Your return for the same sequence (Notre Dame must win twice to cash its futures ticket) would be closer to 25/1 or 30/1 rather than 12/1 to knock off Clemson and ‘Bama in succession.