Opening Lines: Price is up on red-hot Crimson Tide

Top-ranked Alabama's showdown with surging Texas A&M highlights the Week 8 college football slate. Here's a look at the opening point spread for that and a handful of other high-profile contests.


Top-ranked Alabama has passed what many expected to be difficult challenges on the road with surprising ease, the latest a blowout of Tennessee on Saturday.

Now, the Crimson Tide return home as a three-score favorite against a Texas A&M club that already has exceeded most expectations with its 6-0.

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The Aggies and Tide have a recent history of entertaining matchups, and their contest Saturday highlights the Week 8 college football slate.

Here is a quick look at the opening line for this and a handful of other high-profile contests, with input from odds consultant Scott Cooley.

Texas A&M at Alabama (-16.5), Sat., 3:30 p.m. ET

The Crimson Tide used a pick-six in the second quarter to squash the momentum of a Tennessee drive and take an early two-score lead. They cruised to a 49-10 win one week after dominating Arkansas wire-to-wire on the road.

Needless to say, the price has been marked up in order to back the best team in the country, but that hasn?t stopped anyone thus far, Cooley said.

"Our primary college football oddsmaker said this was the best Alabama team he's seen since he's been in the business, and it's hard to argue," he said. "We've been inflating the Tide's spreads over the last month, trying to attract action on the underdog, but nobody is biting. We'll see if the sharps think we've adjusted too much."

Miami at Virginia Tech (-4.5), Thurs., 7 p.m. ET

This potentially entertaining ACC matchup Thursday night now features a pair of unranked teams after both saw their early success thwarted by an ugly loss.

The Hokies looked to be in a potential letdown spot Saturday against Syracuse, but few anticipated a 31-17 loss after they closed as 22-point favorite. The Hurricanes lost their second straight 20-13 to North Carolina after closing as a touchdown favorite.

"Miami was a lot of smoke-and-mirrors to start the season, and now the defense is really banged up. Blacksburg will be rocking Thursday night so the edge goes to the home squad. Perception of both teams is poor coming off ugly losses, will be interesting to see how this line is shaped," Cooley said.

Oklahoma at Texas Tech (+13.5), Sat., 8 p.m. ET

Although the Sooners suffered two early losses that likely knocked them out of the playoff picture, they have looked more like the efficient team many observers projected for this loaded team.

They dominated historically stubborn Kansas State 38-17 on Saturday, while Texas Tech's notoriously soft defense was exposed in a 48-17 home loss to West Virginia.

"These teams are trending in opposite directions in the eyes of the public, so we had to be high on the Oklahoma side," Cooley said. "The Sooners should be able to name their score against a sieve defense, and Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes hasn't looked like himself of late. This will likely rise, so if you like Oklahoma, grab the number now."

Ole Miss at LSU (-4), Sat., 9 p.m. ET

The erratic Rebels showed their bad side again Saturday, losing for the second straight year to Arkansas in a game in which they closed as 10-point favorites.

Meanwhile, LSU started slow before pulling away and covering in a 45-10 win over Southern Mississippi. This will be the toughest game the Tigers have faced in the post-Les Miles era, as they rolled to wins against inferior foes in the first two.

"The Rebels have been knocked down a number of times this year but, undeterred, they always seem to get back up and keep fighting. The jury is still out on LSU, and I think we'll see some smart bettors back the Rebels spread and money line here," Cooley said.