Time to mark the one-week countdown to Monday night’s much-anticipated College Football Playoff championship blockbuster matching LSU and Clemson.
LSU will likely sit near a -5 to -5.5 favorite through the week, pending major personnel news. Heavy action from recreational bettors could push the line in either direction in the days and hours leading up to kickoff. Sharps who had been riding LSU recently got their money in at lower prices when the game opened. Those with their eyes on the dog will wait to see if plus-6 becomes available soon. They might decide plus-5.5 is the best they’ll get.
Will the Southeastern Conference win another title? LSU is trying to make it 10 of the last 14. But years of media hype have convinced many pundits and bettors that the conference has become overrated. Let’s see what this season’s bowl results suggest about that handicapping angle.
Because games that land close to the line might not tell you much about competing conferences, let’s look only at bowl results that missed the point spread by a touchdown or more. Here are those ATS results for the Power 5 in betting-market blowouts:
— SEC (4-3): Yes, right at the top with the most big covers. League finalists LSU and Georgia cashed by double digits. Final Four-caliber Alabama did as well. Kentucky sneaked through as a dog. League dominance wasn’t total, with Auburn, Florida and Mississippi State laying eggs. Certainly worth noting for the title game is that LSU had easy recent covers vs. Georgia and ’Bama, which went on to impress in bowl challenges.
— Big Ten (3-2): A slightly better percentage than the SEC, pending LSU’s finale. The Big Ten received negative press last week because finalists Ohio State and Wisconsin fizzled late in their bowls. But Iowa’s 26-point cover vs. USC, Minnesota’s outright upset of Auburn (14-point cover) and Penn State’s managing of Memphis put the league on the right side of the .500 mark.
— ACC (3-4): It’s no secret that Clemson dominated a disappointing conference. This year’s ACC bowl experience was fittingly bookended by Miami’s laughable loss to Louisiana Tech and Boston College’s no-show vs. Cincinnati. North Carolina, Louisville and Virginia (???) helped save face.
— Pac-12 (2-3): Mostly bad news in big decisions. Utah was confirmed as a pretender by Texas. Joining the Utes on the list of embarrassments were USC and Washington State. Maybe all anyone will remember is Oregon’s rally in the Rose Bowl to beat Wisconsin, which wasn’t a qualifier for this study.
— Big 12 (1-3): Awful. A 75% humiliation rate. The teams that played for the Big 12 championship, Oklahoma and Baylor, lost to the teams that played for the SEC championship, LSU and Georgia, by a combined 89-42 margin, missing the market by a combined 31 points.
Though its overall dominance may be waning, college football reality still has an SEC bias.