College football betting: Bettors are fading Alabama heavily

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  • Alabama Crimson Tide
    Alabama Crimson Tide

Conference championship weekend is here. Playoff berths are at stake for teams like Alabama, Michigan, Cincinnati and Oklahoma State. The weekend gets underway with two games on Friday and then continues all day on Saturday. Some weeks, the college football slate can be overwhelming due to quantity of games and a lack of quality. That's not the case this weekend as there's great football spaced throughout the weekend. 

The magnitude of these games often leads to heavy betting action, and such is the case this weekend. We've already seen multiple six-figure bets at BetMGM. Which sides are getting the most action prior to kickoff? 

Alabama is catching the public fade

Under Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide are not underdogs often. In fact, Alabama hasn't been this big of an underdog since 2008. This is only the sixth time since 2008 that Alabama is an underdog. The Tide have won and covered in four of the five games where they were getting points in that time frame.

Georgia is a 6.5-point favorite on Saturday over Alabama. What makes this even more wild is that 94% of the betting handle is on the Bulldogs to cover the point spread. 

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 01:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide shakes hands with head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs after the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 35-28 in the 2018 SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Can Kirby Smart cover the spread as a favorite against his old boss? (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

No team has been able to score against Georgia this season, and on paper it looks like Alabama would be the team most likely to challenge the Georgia defense. The Alabama offense, however, has struggled in recent weeks. It hasn't been able to run the ball effectively and the offensive line has struggled at times. 

There's also questions about Stetson Bennett. He's been fine this season but Georgia has never had to rely on him to any significant level. Is he up for the challenge if the Crimson Tide force him to win the game with his arm? The betting public certainly thinks so. Georgia is the most popular bet on this weekend's slate. 

Win and you're in for Oklahoma State?

If Georgia does its job and takes care of business against Alabama, then the Big 12 championship game likely sets up as a "win and you're in" situation for Oklahoma State. 

One bettor at BetMGM is confident in the Pokes' ability to take care of business. In the biggest bet of the slate so far, a bettor risked $275,000 to win $250,000 on Oklahoma State to cover as a 5.5-point favorite over Baylor. Currently, 77% of the betting handle is on Oklahoma State to win and cover. 

These two teams met earlier in the season with Oklahoma State pulling out a 24-14 victory. Both teams rely on their defense to carry the load while hoping their offense does enough to win the game. Oklahoma State's defense ranks third in the country in yards-per-play allowed and fourth in points allowed. The Cowboys are the best team in the nation when it comes to getting off the field on third down. 

No letdown expected for Michigan

Michigan had a program-changing win last weekend over Ohio State. Jim Harbaugh finally took down the Buckeyes to secure a spot in the Big Ten championship game. Now, the assignment is simple. Beat Iowa and clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff. 

Is a letdown even possible in such a big spot? I don't believe so, but if it is, this is a prime candidate. It doesn't seem the betting public is worried about a flat Michigan team either. Currently, 59% of bets and 72% of the betting handle is backing Michigan to cover as a 10.5-point favorite over Iowa. One bettor risked $165,000 on the Wolverines to cover. The bet would return $150,000. 

Both teams are similar to each other in that they want to run the ball down your throat and make your life miserable with their defense. Michigan is simply a more talented version with more game-breaking ability on offense. It's hard to envision Iowa scoring much here. 

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