- Las Vegas sportsbooks reported early ‘sharp money’ action on Alabama in the College Football National Championship game.
- The respected play also came in on the ‘Under’ in what is expected to be a high scoring game.
- William Hill Nevada opened the game at Alabama -7 with the opening total set at 76.5.
Based on reports of early betting action in Las Vegas and elsewhere it appears that the ‘public’ thought more of Ohio State’s shocking win over Clemson than did the wise guys. Currently, the line on the College Football Championship Game between Ohio State and Alabama shows the Crimson Tide as a -8 point favorite with a few sportsbooks showing -7.5 (and a couple at -8.5). The total is currently 75, 75.5 or 76 depending on the sportsbook.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Todd Dewey covers the city’s sports betting scene better than anyone and in his conversations with local bookmakers it looks like the ‘sharps’ are thinking there’s something of a public overreaction to the Ohio State win. The National Championship Game opened Alabama -7 at William Hill on Friday night but that number wasn’t available for long according to sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich:
“The professionals laid 7.”
William Hill had posted a lookahead line of ‘bama -11 before the game and the ‘wise guys’ think that the ‘true line’ should be closer to that than to the current price. Tough for a value oriented bettor to pass up the best team in college football over the past decade laying just a touchdown. Not that the adjustment from -11 to -7 was without justification according to Bogdanovich:
“Ohio State just put (639) yards on Clemson. It’s that simple.”
Over at the Westgate, VP of risk Ed Salmons confirmed that sharps were taking the -7 at his shop as well. In his opinion, there is some speculation that the injury to Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields suffered in the Clemson game could be worse than it appeared:
“I think some people laid 7 thinking if he’s hurt or limited, they’ve got a really good bet.”
More will be known about the extent of the injury to Fields’ ribs early this week but the early indication is that it could be an issue–after the game the Ohio State quarterback said that ‘his ribs hurt after every throw’.
Alabama had no trouble with Notre Dame although they failed to cover the huge -19.5 point spread–the highest in college football playoff history. The Championship Game total is also a record high and according to the Westgate’s Salmons ‘sharps’ go under such numbers reflexively:
“Sharps always bet the big totals under. Always. We knew when we put up a big number they would bet it under. But the public is going to overwhelm them and bet the over.”
William Hill’s Bogdanovich says the betting dynamic on the game is not uncommon for a high profile matchup:
“I think we’ll need the exact same thing as pretty much any big game. The favorite not to cover, the favorite to win the game and to go under. It’s going to be fun to book.”
The game is being played at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on Monday, January 11 starting at 5 PM Pacific/8 PM Eastern.