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Tight betting lines for College Football Playoff semifinals

Updated December 3, 2023 - 7:20 pm

The College Football Playoff semifinals are set, and the betting lines are on the board at sportsbooks.

No. 1-seeded Michigan (13-0) will play No. 4 Alabama (12-1) in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Jan. 1, followed later that day by No. 2 Washington (13-0) vs. No. 3 Texas (12-1) in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

The winners will meet in the CFP national championship game Jan. 8 in Houston.

The Wolverines are consensus 1½-point favorites over the Crimson Tide, and the consensus total is 46.

The one-loss Longhorns are consensus 4-point favorites over the unbeaten Huskies, and the consensus total is 64.

Michigan opened as a 2½-point favorite at the Westgate SuperBook and Station Casinos before dipping to -1½. The total opened at 47 at Circa Sports before dropping to 46.

“We had a bunch of guys (making lines), and most of us were more toward Michigan. I had the line higher than 3,” SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said. “It’s just how much do you want to move up Alabama for beating Georgia. The market gave them a lot of credit for that.

“I’m surprised at how low that is. I thought it would be a little bit higher. Also, if you look at the total, not too many games involving great teams have totals that low. That’s probably why the point spread is suppressed.”

Texas opened as a 5-point favorite at Circa and Stations and -4½ at the SuperBook, BetMGM and Boyd Gaming before the number quickly dropped.

The total on the Texas-Washington game also moved quickly upward after opening at 62½ at the SuperBook and at 63 at Circa. The total is 64½ at BetMGM and Stations, while it has dipped to 63½ at Boyd.

“We were thinking (the line should be) more than a field goal and less than a touchdown, so pick your spot,” Salmons said. “That total is 20 points higher than the other game, so points mean less.”

Michigan is the +180 favorite at Caesars Sportsbook to win the national championship. Alabama is the +200 second choice, followed by Texas at +280 and Washington at +750.

A Caesars bettor wagered $10,000 to win $75,000 on Washington to win the title at +750. Before the final four was announced, a Caesars bettor wagered $5,000 to win $13,000 on Alabama at +260 to win it all.

Florida State was left out of the field at 13-0, despite winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship Saturday. The Seminoles were seemingly downgraded because of a season-ending injury to quarterback Jordan Travis two weeks ago.

“For the sake of games for the public, not having Florida State in here is a big win for the sportsbooks,” Salmons said. “I don’t think anyone wanted to see Michigan lay 13½ or 14 against Florida State. No one wanted that game except for Florida State.

“These games will be great. And it’s New Year’s Day this year, not New Year’s Eve, so these are going to be tremendous handle games.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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