Clemson might be the defending national champion and the No. 1 team in the country, but it’s still a slight underdog to Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
The Crimson Tide, which was awarded the fourth seed by the CFP selection committee Sunday despite not playing in its Southeastern Conference title game, is a 1½-point-favorite over the top-seeded Tigers in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.
No. 2 Oklahoma is a 1½-point favorite over No. 3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in the other national semifinal.
Alabama and Clemson split the past two national titles in a pair of thrilling championship games, with the Crimson Tide winning 45-40 in 2016 and the Tigers prevailing 35-31 on New Year’s Eve 2017.
With the games being played on New Year’s Day this season, Las Vegas sports books expect a huge betting handle on two games that are essentially pick’em.
“There will be so much two-way write on these games,” Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons said. “It’s such a better time slot this year, too. That New Year’s Eve slot is terrible for business.”
The Westgate opened Alabama as a 1-point favorite after offshore books opened Clemson as a 1-point favorite before making the Crimson Tide a 2-point favorite.
“The market is not really set for this thing yet,” Salmons said. “It’s early but I think the public will like Clemson.”
The Sooners opened as a 3-point favorite at the Westgate after offshore books opened the game as a pick’em. Salmons said he isn’t sure which side the public will back.
“Usually, Oklahoma has big support,” he said. “But so does Georgia.”