Looking to bet the 2016 College Football Playoff, on either Alabama-Washington or Ohio State-Clemson? Then look no further. Below is a compilation of odds, including the point spread and total, and picks on both games.
UPDATE: Alabama opened as a 7-point favorite over Clemson in the national title game.
Underdogs have dominated bowl season so far, going 23-9 against the spread. Twelve of those underdogs have won the game outright.
Alabama is 1-2 against the spread in the last two College Football Playoffs, while Ohio State won outright as an underdog against the Crimson Tide and Oregon in 2015.
College Football Playoff betting: Ohio State-Clemson odds, picks
Betting odds: Ohio State -1.5
After opening at -3.5, Ohio State has been bet down to -2.5 at most sports books. The Buckeyes are still a 3-point favorite at a few Las Vegas sports books, including MGM and Treasure Island, but -2.5 is the consensus both in Nevada and offshore.
Ohio State’s move to -3 happened early — the week after the playoff field was announced — and went under a field goal at most books on Friday. Saturday morning, the line continued to drop and fell to -1.5.
The over/under has also been bet down from around 61 to 59.
Urban Meyer is 10-2 against the spread in bowl games, while Dabo Swinney is 6-3 ATS. One of his two losses came against the Tigers in the 2013 Orange Bowl.
Despite Ohio State’s struggles throwing the ball, the Buckeyes defense will do enough to limit Deshaun Watson and the Clemson offense. We think the best play here is the UNDER.
College Football Playoff betting: Alabama-Washington odds, picks
Betting odds: Alabama -13.5
This spread has taken a lofty arc, opening at -14 or -14.5, moving to around -16.5 at some books. At Stations in Las Vegas, it went to -17.
But since getting that high on Dec. 10, the line has moved back down to around where it started — Alabama as a two-touchdown favorite. Saturday morning, it dropped to -13.5 at many books.
The Tide have been an underdog of fewer than 14 points just once all season, Nov. 5 at LSU. They covered in a 10-0 win and are 9-4 against the spread this season.
Pick: Two-thirds of bettors are backing Alabama, per Sports Insights. Pretty much every expert in the country is taking Alabama straight-up, while things are a little more even when it comes to against the spread.
As for us? It’s hard for anyone to back Washington given the talent gap and what Alabama did to Michigan State last season. But we’ll back the Huskies here in a tough spot at more than two touchdowns only.
Washington-Alabama College Football Playoff preview
SECCountry’s Marq Burnett gave his five keys to the game for Alabama, which is a 14-point favorite.
5. Put Washington away early
The last thing you want to do with a team that is an underdog is allow it to hang around and gain confidence. Alabama needs to get off to a quick start and put the Huskies away early.
That means taking advantage of opportunities on offense. At times this season, Alabama moved the ball early on in games, but didn’t finish drives with a touchdown.
On this stage, Alabama must cap those early drives off with touchdowns if the opportunities are there.
4. Take care of the ball
This is true for every game, but especially against Washington. The Huskies are No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin.
That means Washington doesn’t make a lot of mistakes but forces turnovers.
Washington has an aggressive secondary full of ball hawks. The Huskies have intercepted 19 passes on the year. If you’re Alabama, the last thing you want to do is put the defense in a tough position.
3. Watch the trick play
Don’t be surprised if Washington comes out with trick plays early. Coach Chris Petersen is known for his ability to dial up misdirection to keep defenses guessing.
Alabama must remain disciplined to avoid giving up a big play or a touchdown on one of Petersen’s famous trick plays.
2. Alabama can’t buy into the hype
This is more for the fans than the players, but Tide supporters can’t get caught up in a lot of the media coverage. The media created a narrative saying Washington has no chance of winning this game.
Washington is a good team, and it deserves respect. Alabama is more talented, but the most talented team doesn’t always win. This is why Tide players must remain focused throughout the contest.
1. Alabama must dominate the line of scrimmage
One thing is clear when looking at these teams: Alabama’s offensive and defensive linemen are bigger. This should lend itself to the Tide having an advantage in the trenches.
The Crimson Tide should be able to control both lines of scrimmage. That means Alabama should be able to run the ball and control the clock. On defense, Alabama should be able to get pressure on the quarterback and hold up against Washington’s talented rushing attack.
Ohio State-Clemson College Football Playoff preview
Land of 10’s Ryan Ginn also gave five keys for Ohio State.
1. The Ohio State offensive line
More than anything else, this game will be decided by the Ohio State offensive line. Led by All-Americans Pat Elflein (center) and Billy Price (right guard), Ohio State is one of the best run-blocking teams in the country. However, the same can’t be said for the line’s pass blocking. The Buckeyes allowed eight sacks against Michigan, and it nearly cost them the game. Right tackle Isaiah Prince has been the main culprit this season when things go wrong, but there have been breakdowns across the line.
Against Clemson, the Buckeyes will face a huge test. The Tigers rank third nationally in sacks per game (3.54). Their defensive line is an absolute force. Ohio State believes it can fix its offensive line over the course of bowl prep. The Buckeyes’ success depends on it.
2. Finishing pressure
Ohio State’s defensive line has done a great job of generating pressure this season. However, their hounding of quarterbacks hasn’t always led to sacks. The Buckeyes average just 2.17 sacks per game, which ranks 54th nationally.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up, and with good reason. He has a knack for making plays, especially with extended time. Ohio State will need to make sure it not only forces early throws but also generates sacks and tackles for loss that become drive-killing mistakes for offenses.
3. Forcing mistakes
If there’s one criticism of Watson that can be made, it’s his interception total. He threw 15 interceptions in 13 games this season. (Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, by comparison, threw five picks in 12 games.) Ohio State’s defense thrives on turnovers, and the Buckeyes will have the opportunity to capitalize on Saturday.
Watson makes some elite throws, but he also tries to force passes into some windows that he shouldn’t. If the Buckeyes can take away some possessions — or even score on defense — they have to like their odds.
4. Balanced offense
Ohio State’s worst offensive games have come when the Buckeyes abandoned the passing game. In order for everything to be operating on all cylinders, Ohio State needs to have the threat through the air in addition to on the ground. That means better play from the offensive line, Barrett and OSU’s wide receivers.
Furthermore, the Buckeyes run the ball more efficiently when Barrett doesn’t run as much. The Buckeyes are much better off when those carries are split up between H-back Curtis Samuel and running back Mike Weber.
5. Hitting home runs
In a game between two great teams, big plays matter. The difference could come down to which team is able to break a tackle or gain the separation that leads to a long score.
Ohio State has struggled at times with the deep ball this season. Furthermore, there have been runs that were oh-so-close to going for huge gains. The Buckeyes will have to finish those plays in order to beat Clemson.