Bettors holding tickets on Alabama to win the national title and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to claim the Heisman Trophy likely saw their chances go from slim to almost none Saturday.
Tagovailoa is done for the season after suffering a right hip dislocation during the second quarter of the Tide’s 38-7 win Saturday at Mississippi State. Last year’s Heisman runner-up had already slipped well behind Louisiana State’s Joe Burrow in the race for this year’s award, but the injury ends any chance of a late-season push for the honor.
“Burrow’s going to win the Heisman,” Westgate sportsbook director John Murray said.
Burrow was a minus-1,000 favorite to win the award, and Tagovailoa had dropped to 100-1 at the Westgate before Saturday’s games.
In the title race, though Alabama is not eliminated, its argument for being one of the top four teams in the country is weakened without its standout junior under center.
Murray said he had to talk to his team before reopening the national title odds but that the big winner of the day seemed to be the Pac-12, which is likely headed toward a conference championship game pitting one-loss playoff hopefuls Oregon and Utah. That winner would have a formidable case against an Alabama team now playing with its backup quarterback, Mac Jones.
“The day couldn’t have gone better for the Pac-12,” Murray said. “It was a bad day for Alabama. It was a bad day for the Big 12. Oklahoma survived, but it’s having to survive every week. Baylor lost.”
“I don’t think (Oregon or Utah) are better than Alabama, but I didn’t think Notre Dame was one of the four best last year, and they got in,” he added.
Of course, all of those teams could be out in a scenario in which Ohio State and Clemson win out and Georgia beats an undefeated LSU in the Southeastern Conference title game, paving the way for LSU to still get in as the No. 4 seed.
However, Murray said he wouldn’t cross Alabama off.
“They could still get in if Georgia loses the SEC championship game, though (the injury) makes it less likely,” he said. “The backup could look great in the Iron Bowl, and then they still have a shot.”
Mississippi’s cover against LSU saved the day for the Caesars Entertainment books, director of trading Jeff Davis said.
The Rebels held on as 21½-point underdogs when the Tigers knelt in the red zone in the final seconds of a 58-37 win.
“If LSU covers, we figure to get buried as every parlay goes to them,” Davis said via email during the first half. “… We really can’t have a good day, just looking to get out alive at this point with many of the public sides getting there today.”
Those big public winners included Georgia, which covered as a 3-point favorite against Auburn, 21-14; Michigan, which rolled past rival Michigan State 44-10 as a 14-point favorite; and Wisconsin, which covered 15 at Nebraska in a 37-21 win.
Oklahoma’s comeback to beat Baylor 34-31 was a bitter pill for the Westgate’s Murray, even though the Sooners didn’t cover the 10½-point spread.
“It’s all money-line parlays now,” he said.
West Virginia’s victory over Kansas State was the one outright upset that helped mitigate the book’s losses.
“We’re going to lose a small number,” Murray said, “but that’s disappointing considering how much handle we had.”
The worst beat
Colorado State (+10.5) jumped to a 14-0 first-quarter lead against Air Force. The Falcons gradually rebounded and pulled ahead, but the Rams remained safely within the number down 31-21 as they drove in the final minutes. Then Zane Lewis picked off Patrick O’Brien and returned the interception 99 yards for a touchdown with 1:22 to play, capping a 38-21 victory and earning the win for bettors who laid the points with Air Force.
I’ve had some bad beats… I’ve had some bad losses… but Colorado State +10.5 is going to be up there pic.twitter.com/F9pYd96iCn
— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) November 17, 2019
(Using closing lines at Circa)
— Syracuse destroyed Duke 49-6 as a 9-point road underdog (plus 275 on the money line), covering by 52 points.
— Hawaii beat UNLV 21-7 in a surprisingly low-scoring game, going under 72.5 by 44.5 points.
— Virginia Tech blanked Georgia Tech 45-0 as a 6½-point road favorite, covering by 38.5.
— Troy handled Texas State 63-27 as a 7-point road favorite, covering by 29.
— Central Michigan outlasted Ball State in a wild 45-44 shootout, making over 60 a winner by 29 points.
— LSU and Mississippi traded enough scores in a 58-37 Tigers win to make over 66 win by 29 points.
— Oregon kept Arizona under wraps in a 34-6 victory, and the game stayed under 69 by 29 points.
Biggest outright upsets
— West Virginia (+450, +14) won 24-20 at Kansas State.
— Rice (+420, +13) got its first victory, knocking off Middle Tennessee 31-28.
— Syracuse (+275, +9) rolled 49-6 at Duke.
By the numbers
Home teams were 21-22 overall against the spread. Favorites were 27-16. Home underdogs went 8-14. Totals went 22-21 to the over.
Contact Jim Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.