Vegas rooting hard for Alabama to beat Clemson handily

The public has piled on Clemson in advance of Monday's national title game, believing the Tigers will keep it close against Alabama, if not pull off the upset.
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Usually, the public can't bet Alabama fast enough, leaving sportsbooks pulling for the Tide's opponents on a weekly basis.

Not the case at all Monday.

"We will be rooting hard for 'Bama," said Jason Simbal, VP of risk for CG Technology sportsbooks in Las Vegas. "An outright Clemson win would be the worst."

MGM Resorts' Jay Rood echoed those sentiments, saying his books have taken three times as much money on Clemson.

Alabama is favored by 6.5 or 7 points, depending on the book. Many books report an avalanche of Clemson money line bets that would pay about 2-to-1 if the Tigers pull the upset.

At William Hill, the Tigers have attracted 78 percent of the action. And those are just pointspread bets.

Sixty-nine percent of the money line dollars wagered are on Clemson, too.

Ignoring the spread, you can risk $100 to win $190 on Clemson; Alabama money line bettors must risk $220 to win $100.


You can't blame the public for piling on Clemson.

They sided with the Tigers in the CFP semis against Ohio State and were rewarded with a 31-0 Tigers' rout. Clemson closed anywhere from a 1-point underdog to a 1-point favorite in that game.

Books got killed on both CFP semis, actually. Bettors backed Alabama too, and the Tide covered the two-touchdown spread in a 24-7 win over Washington.


Clemson's dominant defensive performance also swayed Over/Under bettors. Monday's total opened at 54 and was sitting as low as 50.5 at some books.

"Sharp players took the Under early and often," said Scott Cooley, odds consultant for BookMaker.eu. "I don't think their train of thought has anything to do with Lane Kiffin [leaving]. The public has followed suit because they are siding with Clemson, and if they think taking the points is the play,  then Under is the prudent play too."

While the action on the side is lopsided, MGM does expect a rush of 'Bama money Monday.

"Except for the A&M game, we've always taken a lot of Alabama money before gametime," sportsbook manager Jeff Stoneback said. "So we anticipate doing that in this one too."

It won't even things out, but it will cushion the blow should Clemson pull the upset.


Books would love to get equal two-way action on every game. It rarely works out that way.

In this case, many books opened at Alabama -7 and moved to -6.5 when they got flooded with Clemson money. They don't want to go too far for fear of getting "middled."

For instance, professional bettors who took Clemson +7 would hammer Alabama -5.5, and collect both bets should the Tide win by 6.

Larry Hartstein
Larry HartsteinSenior Analyst