The showdown is set between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson, and despite Alabama taking 59% of the side bets at the leading online sportsbooks, the line has dropped with the Crimson Tide a 5.5-point favorite as kickoff nears.
2019 College Football National Championship
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (14-0) vs. No. 2 Clemson Tigers (14-0)
Monday, January 7 – Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA 8:00pm ET
Betting Line: Alabama -5.5, Total 58 - TV: ESPN
Alabama opened -6.5, but the line dropped to -5 and even -4.5 on Friday at some sports books, and is now back up to -5.5 with Alabama taking more bets. However, Clemson is still taking 57% of the money line bets, per Sports Insights, which monitors and tracks betting activity at seven of the biggest online sportsbooks including BookMaker and 5Dimes.
With Alabama taking more bets and the line moving down on the Crimson Tide, there was heavier action and bigger bets on Clemson. Sportsbooks adjust the lines and money line odds based on betting activity and sharp action. Not necessarily big bets, but bets from sharper and well-respected players.
The total has also dropped to 58, as initially rain was possible on game day, after some rain hit the bay area over the weekend. But the rain has cleared out with high-50's temperatures and light winds expected for the National Championship game Monday. However, the field conditions are questionable despite new turf being installed. Recall on New Year’s Even when Oregon escaped vs. Michigan State 7-6 in the Redbox Bowl at Levi’s Stadium. Also, the UNDER is 36-23 (61%) in college and NFL games played at Levi’s Stadium since it opened for play five years ago.
Prior to the season, sports books take futures bets on teams to win the National Championship. Alabama was at 5-2 odds to win the National Championship at many sportsbooks, and Clemson was 5-1.
Sportsbooks also set odds on teams to make the 4-team College Football Playoff. Clemson was a popular play, and bigger bets and action dropped the odds from +125 to -180 at selected online sportsbooks and in Las Vegas.
Back on Nov. 30 a day prior to the SEC Championship game, you may recall when FanDuel sportsbook made sports betting history by being the first legal sports betting operator in the United States to pay out future wagers on the college football National Championship – over a month before the National Championship game was played. Alabama was -280 a the time to win the National Championship, and all futures wagers were paid out on Alabama. The Crimson Tide nearly lost to Georgia the next day in the SEC Championship.
In late August as the college football season kicked off, a number of sportsbooks had taken the most money, not necessarily the most bets, on Alabama and Clemson to win the National Championship. Yet many sportsbooks will do just fine with either Alabama or Clemson winning it all because the house hold on futures wagers is so high. So all the bets wagered on other college football teams to win the National Championship will make the sportsbooks plenty of money.
In tracking some of the National Championship game betting in Las Vegas, here are some of the big wagers and betting action.
The Westgate SuperBook said sharp money came in on Clemson at +6, and the SuperBook took a very large 5-figure bet on Clemson +5. "I think it’s fair to call it one of the largest bets I’ve seen all college football season," said a SuperBook manager Eric Osterman.
"We do well to both teams in the futures book. So, we’ll collect on the futures book."
MGM director of sports and trading Jeff Stoneback said, "Right now, not much of a decision. We’re a four-way winner unless the game falls on Alabama by exactly 6."
In the national semifinals, a bettor in Las Vegas placed a $140,000 money line parlay bet on Alabama and Clemson, and won $64,000 when the Clemson crushed Notre Dame and Alabama followed with a win over Oklahoma.
Also, before Monday’s National Championship game is even played, Alabama (+180) and Clemson (+500) are the favorites to win the 2020 National Championship, but you can bet the Field (-120) right now in Las Vegas.
As for me, I played Clemson +6 (not for 5-figures, ha), but have a very low 4-figure payout on the Wise Guys Invitational handicapping contest if Clemson wins or covers +6.5, as I’ll finish the last four weeks 'mini' contest 7-1 ATS. Now that would be a good way to end the college football season.
You can bet on it.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay