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July 17, 2019

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College football by the odds: Vegas picks and preview of championship week

Auburn Alabama 2013


Auburn fans react at the end of a win over Alabama during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Auburn beat Alabama 34-28.

Sports bettors wait for hours to find out if their wagers won. They expect less than minutes before they can place the next ones.

Patience isn’t a prevailing characteristic for those who regularly fill the city’s sports books, as seen for the umpteenth time in the aftermath of last week’s college football slate. Before Auburn fans had finished rushing the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium after their team stunned No. 1 Alabama, gamblers were calling for a new potential BCS national championship line.

The Golden Nugget was the first to oblige, posting Florida State as a 9.5-point favorite over Ohio State in the pairing that’s now the most likely to compete for the crystal football. Early money on the Buckeyes pushed the spread down to minus-8.

It should open somewhere in the same neighborhood if both teams prevail in their respective conference championship games this weekend. Auburn and Missouri, who meet in the SEC Championship Game, would both get a few more points against Florida State. The two Tigers project somewhere in the vicinity of a 3-point underdog against the Buckeyes on a neutral field.

It will all be sorted out after this weekend, along with Talking Points’ seasonlong performance. Picking the biggest games weekly all season has left the blog a mediocre 48-48-3 against the spread.

Check below for the final installment of college football by the odds this year, as Talking Points greets the abbreviated slate by cutting the number of games in half.

    • Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert (4) celebrates with teammate Tyler Patmon (26) following Patmon's touchdown against Baylor in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. Oklahoma State won 49-17.

      Oklahoma plus-10 at Oklahoma State, 9 a.m., ABC

      It’s not a conference championship game, but the Bedlam rivalry is the closest thing the Big 12 can offer this season.

      For the fifth straight year, this game holds major implications on the Big 12 championship. Oklahoma State could clinch a share of the title with the winner of the Texas vs. Baylor game — the Bears are 16-point favorites — but would own the head-to-head tiebreaker to earn a BCS bowl bid.

      Oklahoma has no incentive beyond bullying its in-state rival. That’s been plenty throughout history.

      It’s safe to say the Cowboys will never catch up in the all-time series, as the Sooners lead with an 82-18-7 record. The red team has won nine of the past 10 and had covered in six straight before Oklahoma State cashed tickets in the past two.

      The Cowboys fell 51-48 in overtime after never trailing throughout the entire game last year as 6.5-point underdogs. Two years ago, they smacked the Sooners 44-10 as 3.5-point favorites.

      These are the most points Oklahoma State has given in the history of the game.

      Pick: Oklahoma plus-10 They call it the Sooner State for a reason. It belongs to Oklahoma.

    • In this Nov. 30, 2013 file photo, Auburn cornerback Chris Davis (11) returns a field goal attempt 109-yards to score the winning touchdown over Alabama during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Auburn, Ala. Davis's 109-yard return of a missed field goal to beat Alabama was one of the Iron Bowl's and the season's most memorable plays.

      Missouri plus-1 vs. Auburn, 1 p.m., CBS

      BYU wins the national championship. Bethune-Cookman beats Florida State.

      Those are just a couple examples of outcomes sports books found more likely than this matchup in the SEC Championship Game at the beginning of the year. Coming off of a season in which they went a combined 2-14 straight up and 5-11 against the spread in conference play, not much was expected from either Missouri or Auburn.

      The Tigers of the SEC West division were 50-to-1 to win the SEC and 500-to-1 for the national championship. The SEC East Tigers were 60-to-1 to win the SEC and 200-to-1 for the national championship.

      Even though both teams now require help in the form of Michigan State upsetting Ohio State just to get to the BCS national championship, Auburn and Missouri are now 5-to-1 and 12-to-1 respectively.

      Both are in the running for the distinction as the best team in the nation to bet on, too. Missouri leads 125 Football Bowl Subdivision programs with a 10-1-1 against-the-spread record. Auburn lurks at 10-2.

      Pick: Missouri plus-1 Auburn’s magic must run out sometime, right? Siding with Missouri’s defensive advantage.

    • Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery (7) runs for a touchdown against California defenders during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013.

      Stanford plus-3 at Arizona State, 4:45 p.m., ESPN

      Someone pinch Stanford coach David Shaw and his players in case they’re feeling a bit of déjà vu.

      This year’s Pac-12 Championship Game carries a similar setup to last year’s for the Cardinal. They enter as the more highly regarded — Stanford is No. 7 to Arizona State’s No. 11 in both the BCS and AP polls — and publicly backed team in a rematch of a game that wasn’t close the first time around.

      In 2012, Stanford smashed UCLA 35-17 on the road in the regular season as 2.5-point favorites before eking out a win but no cover in a 27-24 Pac-12 Championship victory as 9.5-point favorites.

      The Cardinal stomped the Sun Devils 42-28 as 6.5-point favorites at home two-and-a-half months ago. Much has changed since then.

      Arizona State has worked its way up to No. 4 in Football Outsiders’ F/+ ratings — only one behind Stanford at No. 3 — by going 8-1 straight up and 6-3 against the spread. Stanford, 7-2 straight up and 5-4 against the spread since the Arizona State win, has shown more mixed performances.

      The Cardinal have looked elite at times — a 26-20 win over Oregon as 10-point underdogs comes to mind — and lethargic in others — including last week’s narrow 27-20 victory over Notre Dame as 16-point favorites.

      Pick: Arizona State minus-3 Turning to one of the blog’s oldest rules of thumb: When in doubt, fade the public underdog.

    • Florida defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy, left, breaks up and intercepts a pass intended for Florida State wide receiver Rashad Greene (80) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013.

      Duke plus-28.5 vs. Florida State, 5 p.m., ABC

      The SEC finalists aren’t the only ones in the running for most profitable team to bet on in the 2013-2014 college football season.

      Don’t forget about both teams that have reached the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. The Seminoles and the Blue Devils are each 10-2 versus the number, including a combined 14-1 since the start of October.

      Picked to finish last in the ACC Coastal Division, Duke has won straight up as an underdog five times this season, including two of the past three weeks against North Carolina and Miami.

      Florida State hasn’t gotten points in a contest since a 2011 trip to Clemson. Minus-29 was the average spread in Seminoles’ games this season, making the ACC Championship fall right in line.

      This comes just short of the biggest line in conference championship game history, as Oregon was minus-31 against UCLA in the inaugural Pac-12 game two years ago. The Ducks won 49-31, failing to scoop the cash.

      Pick: Florida State minus-28.5 Not in a rush to back either side, but if Florida State wants to cover this spread, it shouldn’t have any problems.

    • Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah (8) tries to veer away from Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough (40) in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.

      Ohio State minus-5.5 vs. Michigan State, 5:15 p.m., Fox

      Seeing an underdog listed at plus-140 on the moneyline win outright happens all the time.

      Those were roughly the odds, based on historical success rates, on Ohio State’s BCS National Championship Game hopes coming to an end when archrival Michigan lined up for a 2-point conversion last Saturday. Alas, Ohio State stopped the passing attempt to hold on 42-41 as 17-point favorites.

      But only after the Buckeyes, who have won a school record 24 straight games since Urban Meyer took over as coach, showed some of their flaws. They surrendered 603 yards of offense against Michigan, which mustered only 168 against Michigan State a month earlier.

      Then again, the Buckeyes racked up 393 rushing yards against the Wolverines. The Spartans had 142.

      Strength will meet strength in the third annual Big Ten championship game, where the underdog has covered the first two and won one outright.

      Behind an average of 129 yards per game, Carlos Hyde has the Buckeyes ranked as the top rushing team in the nation. Michigan State is the best at stopping the ground game, allowing a microscopic 2.2 yards per carry.

      Pick: Michigan State plus-5.5 Feels like this line lost most of its value, as it forecast at the full touchdown a few weeks ago, but still not interested in giving more than a field goal with the Buckeyes.

    Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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