Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:06 AM
College Playoff - Action Report
About 24 hours before kickoff, Las Vegas sports books were split on Monday night’s College Football Playoff Championship Game, with Alabama -3.5 available for favorite bettors and Georgia +4 there for the taking, too.
While it’s always hard to predict how a line will move, the betting market may have found its sweet spot for this season’s title game. The 4.5s that have appeared on betting boards over the last week haven’t lasted long, and it’s hard to envision the number on Alabama waning to as cheap as -3.
“I don’t think it’s going to go below 3.5,” John Avello, sports book director at the Wynn, said Sunday afternoon.
The Wynn’s opening price of Alabama -4 drew “a couple of six-figure bets” on the underdog Georgia that pushed the line to -3.5, Avello added, and that’s the number the shop’s been dealing since.
At the South Point, sharp bettors liked the opening price on the dog, taking Georgia +4.5, but when the point spread was bet down to Alabama -3.5, wiseguys were happy to lay the shorter price. Save a momentary blip to 4.5 on Sunday night, the South Point seems to have settled at Alabama -4.
“We definitely had sharp money taking the 4.5, and I’d say it was pretty sharp money laying back the 3.5, too,” said Chris Andrews, book director at the South Point. “You know the way it is – guys are playing numbers, and they saw both those as advantageous.”
As for public bettors, there are different stories coming from the South Point and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
While Alabama has been a public team ever since Nick Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa began in 2007, “there’s no shortage of Georgia money and opinions on Georgia winning this game,” Andrews said. “We’ve taken plenty of Georgia money, too, from everybody – from wiseguys and the public – so I’m not sure we’re going to move (the line) at all.”
But Westgate manager Ed Salmons said his shop is so weighted on the favorite that the joke around the book has been, “’Who is Alabama playing tomorrow?,’ because all we see on the ticker is Alabama, Alabama, Alabama, Alabama – it’s like nine out of 10 tickets are on Alabama. It’s just amazing. And it’s all public money. ... It’s weird because they loved Clemson against Alabama, and now they love Alabama against Georgia.”
After opening Alabama -4, the Westgate took a “decent size wager” on the favorite from a house customer and moved to -4.5. From there, the book has bounced between 3.5 and 4.
Salmons is happy to need Georgia on Monday.
“I definitely lean to the dog in this game,” he said.
The vast majority of bets, of course, has yet to show up, and while some college football observers sense a lack of buzz for a national title game featuring two teams from the SEC, books anticipate a heavily-bet game. Should handle be off, it will probably have more to do with bettors’ bankrolls being light after all four underdogs covered during the NFL’s wild-card weekend than any provincial leanings, Andrews agreed.
Another positive domino for the books of the NFL underdog sweep: Less liability heading into Monday night.
“All the parlays through the weekend lead to this game,” Salmons said, “and with all the 'dogs covering in the NFL, it definitely took away a lot of the liability sometimes we face in these games.”
Marcus DiNitto is a writer in Charlotte, N.C., who covers sports betting and all kinds of other stuff. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusDiNitto