NCAAF opening line report: Alabama opens as 4.5-point favorites for Iron Bowl

Photo of NCAAF opening line report: Alabama opens as 4.5-point favorites for Iron Bowl
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Week 12 of the college football season featured a bunch of huge point spreads and very limited good matchups. On the flip side, 13 is a lucky number, with a lot of big games on the docket this week, including a major SEC showdown. Covers checks in on the opening lines and early action with Dave Mason, brand manager for offshore sportsbook BetOnline.ag.

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 6 Auburn Tigers (+4.5)

Alabama heads into the annual Iron Bowl carrying an unblemished record and a strong shot at yet another appearance in the four-team College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide (11-0 SU, 5-6 ATS) had what amounted to a bye in Week 12, taking FCS outfit Mercer to the woodshed in a 56-0 victory to cash as a massive 49.5-point home favorite.

Auburn has two losses, but also holds an impressive win over then-unbeaten Georgia in Week 11 and therefore still harbors some CFP hopes. The Tigers (9-2 SU, 5-4-2 ATS) also had a gimme game in Week 12, dumping Louisiana-Monroe 42-14 as a 38-point home chalk.

“There is little doubt that Saturday's Iron Bowl will be the biggest-bet college football game on Thanksgiving weekend,” Mason said. “Alabama has owned this rivalry recently, winning the game outright by double digits in five of the last six years. Despite ‘Bama’s recent dominance, Auburn is taking on the most bets out of any college team so far. Just 29 percent of early bettors are on the Tide.”

No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Wolverines (+11)

Ohio State leads the Big Ten East Division and needs to wrap up a spot in the conference championship game to remain among the CFP prospects. The Buckeyes (9-2 SU, 5-6 ATS) thumped Illinois 52-14 laying 41 points at home Saturday.

Michigan is hoping to play spoiler against the Buckeyes in The Game, one of college football’s most-storied rivalries. The Wolverines (8-3 SU, 4-6-1 ATS) hung around through three quarters at Wisconsin, but ultimately fell short 24-10 as a 6.5-point underdog in Week 12.

“Speaking of one-sided rivalries, Ohio State has a five-game winning streak over Michigan,” Mason said. “The Game will most likely be the second-most-bet game on Saturday, after the Iron Bowl. The house will be huge Wolverine fans, as 85 percent of early bettors are on the Buckeyes.”

That helped tick the line up to 11.5 Sunday evening.

No. 15 Washington State Cougars at No. 14 Washington Huskies (-9.5)

Washington State controls its fate in the Pac-12 North Division, heading into the Apple Cup showdown Saturday night. The Cougars (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS) enter this instate clash off a bye week, after fending off Utah 33-25 as a 1-point road fave on Week 11.

Washington can’t win the division and therefore can’t make it to the Pac-12 title game, but would love to wreck its rival. The Huskies (9-2 SU, 6-5 ATS) got all they could handle from Utah on Saturday, pulling out a 33-30 victory on a last-minute field goal.

“While the Iron Bowl is getting the most early action, (this game) is getting the most lopsided early action,” Mason said. “It's looking like we will be rooting for the Huskies, considering 90 percent of early bettors are taking the Cougars and the points.”

South Florida at Central Florida (-10.5)

Central Florida remains undefeated, but has no shot at the CFP and will instead hope to stay on course for the American Athletic Conference title and a spot in a bigger-name bowl game. The Knights (10-0 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) coasted past Temple 45-19 giving 13.5 points on Saturday.

South Florida (9-1 SU, 4-6 ATS) could get to the conference title game with a victory over UCF. The Bulls topped Tulsa 27-20 in Week 12, falling way short as 24-point chalk.

“Despite their impressive SU records, neither team has been generous to their loyal bettors recently,” Mason said. “South Florida failed to cover the number in each of its last four games. Meanwhile, after starting the season on a torrid covering rate, Central Florida is just 1-3 ATS in its last four. Not a ton of early action yet, but 60 percent of early bettors are on Central Florida.”

The Knights were up to -11.5 Sunday evening.

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