- Joined ESPN in 2014
- Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008
Alabama is favored by more points than any team in the College Football Playoff’s brief history, but the majority of bettors have been undeterred by the historic point spread.
The Crimson Tide are consensus 19.5-point favorites over Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl, the first of two CFP semifinals on Friday (4 p.m. ET, ESPN). Only two bowl games since 1978 have had larger spreads, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The last time the Fighting Irish were bigger underdogs was 2008 against Southern Cal (-32.5).
The historic point spread hasn’t slowed down the action on Alabama, with approximately twice as much money having been bet on the Crimson Tide as had been on Notre Dame at multiple U.S. sportsbooks. At FanDuel, nearly 70% of the money that had been bet on the Rose Bowl point spread was on Alabama.
In the Sugar Bowl, the second semifinal on Friday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN), Clemson was a growing favorite over Ohio State. The Tigers opened as around 7-point favorites over the Buckeyes. The line had grown to Clemson -7.5 at several sportsbooks by Friday morning, with lopsided action on the Tigers. Entering game day, 80% of the bets and 79% of the money bet on the Sugar Bowl point spread was on Clemson at William Hill U.S. sportsbooks.
“Until another team like an Ohio State or Notre Dame steps up, the masses will be betting on Alabama and Clemson in the semis every year,” Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill U.S., said in a release.
Alabama is the odds-on favorite to win the national championship and has attracted big money. Veteran Las Vegas bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro of the South Point sportsbook reported taking a $125,000 bet on Alabama to win the national title at -185 odds.
Clemson is the second favorite at +275, followed by Ohio State at 10-1 and Notre Dame at 30-1.
Alabama is listed at William Hill U.S. as a 4-point favorite over Clemson in a potential national championship game.
The largest bowl point spreads, according to ESPN Stats & Information have been:
2017 Boca Raton Bowl: Florida Atlantic -22.5 vs. Akron
2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl: Appalachian State -21.5 vs. North Texas
2021 Rose Bowl: Alabama -19.5 vs. Notre Dame
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