"Why isn’t Alabama favored?"
With college football’s National Championship game now hours from kickoff, that’s the question I’ve been hearing most from the mainstream media and casual fans.
They all watched Alabama (+ 6.5) crush Georgia 41-24 in the SEC Championship game. And, that wasn’t a fluke based on a bunch of lucky breaks. The final score told the story. Alabama gained 536 yards on a fantastic defense. The Crimson Tide averaged 7.7 yards-per-play. It really was that one-sided.
How could betting markets favor Georgia in a rematch after the whole world witnessed THAT?!
Maybe the market is wrong. But, the market takes ALL results into account. Not just those from a one-game sample. Alabama definitely played its best game of the season when throttling Georgia. Don’t forget these disappointments from the regular season.
*Alabama (-14) only beat Florida 31-29
*Alabama (-18.5) lost at Texas A&M 41-38
*Alabama (-29.5) only beat LSU 20-14
*Alabama (-20.5) only beat Arkansas 42-35
*Alabama (-20.5) only beat Auburn 24-22 in OT
Georgia is better than all of those SEC foes. In fact, the Bulldogs blew out the three that they faced. Georgia beat Arkansas 37-0, Auburn 34-10 and Florida 34-7 (a combined 105-17).
If you’re reading this article, it’s very likely you watched Alabama dominate Georgia. But, you probably also watched that Alabama-Auburn game Thanksgiving Weekend. Alabama was down 10-3 in the final minute! To bleeping Auburn!
Monday night, if Alabama can match the level of its greatest performance of the season, it will win and cover again. How sure are you that everything will play out that perfectly in back-to-back efforts? Alabama is loaded with talent, but inconsistent. Georgia won’t be caught unprepared after having plenty of time to make adjustments.
The most important market influences believed Georgia was about a TD better than Alabama heading into that first meeting. They’ve already made a big adjustment down to just below a field goal. It’s your job as sports bettors to decide if that was an overreaction to one game, or an underreaction to Alabama’s big-game bona fides at head coach and quarterback.
Let’s see how betting has gone so far…
Monday, Jan. 10
Alabama vs. Georgia (-2.5, 52.5)
ESPN, 8 p.m. ET
Spread: I opened Georgia -2.5. There was a lot of early sharp money on the Bulldogs. I moved to the key number of 3. That brought in a flood of sharp and public action on Alabama. I’ve gone back and forth between 2.5 and 3 a few times since. As I write this, the South Point and most of the global market is sitting on Georgia -2.5. The public is looking for ways to bet Alabama. Sharps who like Georgia below a field goal have already taken positions at -2.5. They’re not necessarily re-buying every time it becomes available.
Moneyline: Remember, sharps were betting Georgia early. I opened Georgia -140/Alabama + 120. I went as high as Georgia -155/Alabama + 135 when I moved the point spread to 3. Sharps and the public bet ‘Bama at + 135, + 130 and + 125. I was back where I started Saturday at Georgia -140/Alabama + 120. But, I was still writing so much ‘Bama business that I dropped to Georgia -130/Alabama + 110 Sunday morning.
*Sharps expecting a Georgia bounceback are happy with their positions at -2.5. They might reinvest if cheaper lines become available before kickoff.
*Some sharps love Alabama at + 3 and on the moneyline at + 130 or better. Recreational players are pounding Alabama. They happily took + 3. Some are still betting + 2.5 Many are focusing on + 120 (or better) on the moneyline. As more and more public money comes in between now and kickoff, both the point spread and moneyline could drop.
*Sportsbooks will be rooting for Georgia. They must determine their own risk parameters for the game. Public money dwarfs sharp money in big betting attractions.
Over/Under: Not much action so far. I opened 52. Public interest has been on the Over, so I went up to 52.5 Saturday morning. On game day, I expect the Over to be heavily bet. The public loves rooting for points. Anyone who bet Over 49 in the first meeting laughed all the way to the bank. The teams scored 41 in the first half on the way to a 65-point finish. It might take as high as 53 to generate sharp interest on the Under.
If market news develops on game day, I’ll provide updates from my twitter account @andrewssports.
This is my final college football report of the season. If you’re strictly a college fan, thanks very much for your time and attention these past five months. If you also bet pro football, my NFL playoff reports begin this Friday afternoon.
Good luck Monday night!
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.