Does Nick Saban have a sense of humor? Ask his quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, only if we have a big lead
Since the college football season began, VSiN has been tracking the SEC’s position in the national championship picture. We’re now about 48 hours away from SEC champion Alabama playing in the national semifinal.
▪ Alabama (-14) vs. Oklahoma (ESPN, 7 p.m. Saturday)
Betting has been fairly quiet. That’s not surprising. Sharps (pro bettors) don’t want to get burned by late-developing news about player suspensions or injuries. And, many prefer underdogs in big games. No reason to bet dogs early when the general public might drive the line higher by kickoff.
Many sports books opened at Alabama -13.5. A relative handful of sharps who thought that was low jumped in before the public was paying attention. Better to lay -13.5 than -14 just in case that half point matters. Those preferring the dog will wait to see of +14.5 or +15 comes into play. Oklahoma’s potent offense will draw underdog support because it could always “come through the back door” with a late TD if it falls behind by 17-21 points.
There was initial interest on the Over. An opener in the 78-79 range was driven into the low 80’s. But, it’s come back down since, falling to 77.5 or 77. It’s expected that the public will bet the Over on game day, creating a very active Over/Under marketplace.
Of course, if Alabama advances, it will face the winner of the other semifinal.
▪ Clemson (-13) vs. Notre Dame (ESPN, 3 p.m. Saturday)
A surprising jump from an opener of -11 up to -13 here. The media has generally been celebrating the upset potential of the Fighting Irish. But, sharps wanted this favorite at anything below -13.
Clemson has been running up very impressive scoring margins since Trevor Lawrence took over at quarterback. They are 7-2 against the spread in games that he finished, with one of the ATS losses coming by just half a point. (Lawrence was injured early in a nail biter vs. Syracuse … and the Tigers were 0-3 ATS out of the gate with Kelly Bryant at QB.)
Worth noting that Notre Dame has been getting results ever since Ian Book replaced Brandon Wimbush at quarterback. Sharps that prefer the dog are waiting to see if they can get as much as +13.5 or +14 after the public bets the game more aggressively Friday and Saturday. In short, Clemson money showed early, while Notre Dame money is lying in wait.
The Over/Under has been sitting within arm’s reach of 55 since the game went on the board.
Between now and the final four, a few SEC teams will take the field for their bowls. Let’s see how sharps have been betting those match-ups.
Early Market Indicators in SEC Bowls
▪ Vanderbilt is up first. Not much early betting interest in the Commodores for Thursday night’s Texas Bowl vs. Baylor (ESPN, 8 p.m.) An opening line of Vandy -4.5 was bet down to -4, where it sat for days. Game day line moves may hint at how sharps will bet the SEC the rest of the way. You’ll see that early moves have been going AGAINST the league in these early appetizers.
▪ Auburn faces Purdue in Friday’s Music City Bowl (ESPN, 12:30 p.m.). Similar situation here with the opener dropping half a point initially. An opener of Auburn -4 only drew Purdue money at first. Could the line come all the way down to a field goal by kickoff? It will be interesting to see how both sharps and the public bet this one. Purdue’s head coach is respected. Auburn was often overpriced vs. bowl caliber opponents this season.
▪ Florida opened at +6 vs. Michigan in Saturday’s Peach Bowl (ESPN, 11 a.m.). Michigan entered this week at -6.5 or -7 globally depending on the shop. So, again, movement away from the SEC entrant. It’s believed smart money would hit the Gators hard at anything higher than the key number of seven. And, if Vandy and Auburn show well for the conference prior to this one…SEC support might show at +7.
▪ South Carolina opened at -6 over Virginia in Saturday’s Belk Bowl (ABC, 11 a.m.). It was bet down to -5.5 or -5. What do the Wise Guys have against the SEC?! More reasonably, sharps believe that oddsmakers overshot the mark in these early matchups because the SEC performed so well against the market in non-conference games this season. Sports books assumed bettors would want the SEC. Sharps believe the openers showed “too much” respect.