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June 18, 2019

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A history of betting on the BCS national championship game in Las Vegas

Favorites and underdogs nearly even in title game dating back to 1999

College football trophy


Auburn’s Dominic Walker poses with The Coaches’ Trophy during media day for the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Newport Beach, Calif. Florida State plays Auburn on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014.

The BCS era could pass without the point spread ever factoring into one of its national championship games.

Seven teams labeled as underdogs in local casinos have won the final game since college football implemented the system to pit the two top teams against each other 15 years ago. In the other eight games, the favorite has won by enough to cover the betting line.

With a four-team playoff set to begin next season, the last stand of the BCS goes down at 5:30 p.m. today at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Florida State, a 10-point favorite, will need to win by double digits or Auburn will have to pull the upset to ensure the streak stands as a generation-long phenomenon.

It’s somewhat surprising that bettors have only needed to pick the winner in the national championship game to cash a ticket dating back to 1999, but not entirely confounding. For comparison’s sake, the point spread has come into play in four Super Bowls during the timeframe.

On average, roughly 30 percent of college football games land within the point spread. But that figure would plummet if only considering games with short lines.

Despite the vitriol the BCS has drawn regularly for the last decade and a half, it’s provided competitive matchups on paper. The average line, including tonight’s, for BCS national championship games is 6.25 points.

This year’s Seminoles are the third biggest favorite in BCS National Championship Game history. The two teams that gave more points, 2003 Miami and 2001 Florida State, lost outright to Ohio State and Oklahoma, respectively.

Upsets reigned in the early going of the BCS, as the underdogs barked to the tune of wins in six of the first nine years. Favorites have bitten back with wins and covers in five of the last six seasons.

The only underdog to win since 2007 barely counts. Auburn closed at plus-1 against Oregon before its victory three years ago, but only after late money rolled in to flip the favored side.

Check below for the full history of the Las Vegas betting line in BCS national championship games. Keep in mind the game was assigned to a particular bowl for the first eight years before made a stand-alone event starting in 2007.

1999 (Fiesta Bowl): Tennessee (plus-5.5) 23, Florida State 16

2000 (Sugar Bowl): Florida State (minus-6) 46, Virginia Tech 29

2001 (Orange Bowl): Oklahoma (plus-11) 13, Florida State 2

2002 (Rose Bowl): Miami (minus-8.5) 37, Nebraska 14

2003 (Fiesta Bowl): Ohio State (plus-12) 31, Miami 24

2004 (Sugar Bowl): LSU (plus-6) 21, Oklahoma 14

2005 (Orange Bowl): USC (minus-1) 55, Oklahoma 19

2006 (Rose Bowl): Texas (plus-7) 41, USC 38

2007 (Glendale, Ariz.): Florida (plus-7) 41, Ohio State 14

2008 (New Orleans): LSU (minus-3.5) 38, Ohio State 24

2009 (Miami): Florida (minus-5.5) 24, Oklahoma 14

2010 (Pasadena, Calif.): Alabama (minus-4) 37, Texas 21

2011 (Glendale, Ariz.): Auburn (plus-1) 22, Oregon 19

2012 (New Orleans): Alabama (minus-2.5) 21, LSU 0

2013 (Miami): Alabama (minus-9.5) 42, Notre Dame 14

2014 (Pasadena, Calif.): Florida State minus-10 vs. Auburn

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

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