Auburn quarterback Cam Newton has been a money player this season, delivering in big games after allegedly receiving a six-figure payoff to play for the Tigers.
Newton is college football’s best and most controversial player, and the Heisman Trophy winner figures to be the major factor in which team wins and covers as Auburn meets Oregon in a Bowl Championship Series title game tonight at Glendale, Ariz.
The Tigers are 2-point favorites over the Ducks, and the total ranges from 73 to 74. Auburn attracted a majority of the early money, but the play has become more balanced and the game is drawing strong two-way action.
The Las Vegas Hilton opened Oregon as a 3-point favorite, based on its power ratings, in early December. The betting market dictated an adjustment, and the price on Auburn was as high as minus-3½ for a brief time at some books.
“We moved it rather quickly because some money came in and we saw some offshore books had Auburn minus-3,” Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay said. “The money continued to come in on Auburn after the first couple days.
“Now the Oregon money is starting to show up, which we expected. The bigger plays are definitely on the Ducks, while most of the tickets are on Auburn.”
Ask 20 people for opinions on the game and the answers might be 10 for Auburn and 10 for Oregon.
The top-ranked Tigers wrapped up the regular season with a 28-27 comeback win over Alabama before a 56-17 blowout of South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
“Those two wins by Auburn really swayed the opinions of a lot of people,” Kornegay said. “Our power ratings still indicate Oregon is a little better. Oregon has been a consistent juggernaut throughout the entire season.”
SEC teams — Alabama, Florida (twice) and Louisiana State — won and covered the past four BCS title games.
There were 35 bowls on the schedule this season, and favorites are 19-13-2 against the spread after UNR failed to cover 8 points in a 20-13 victory over Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Sunday.
The Hilton posted 20 propositions on today’s game, and Auburn’s Newton is the subject of several, including: total pass attempts (21½), completions (14½), touchdown passes (2½, under minus-270) and rushing yards (84½).
A touchdown is a minus-420 favorite to be the first score of the game, with “Any Other Score” paying plus-350. A field goal was the first score in two of the weekend’s four NFL playoff games.
The first-half total is 37 to 37½, and with a one-month layoff for both teams, a lower-scoring opening half would not be a surprise. Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James are each at 7-2 odds to be the player to score the first touchdown.
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907.