The betting action is pouring in on Saturday’s showdown between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama. We’ll be updating this link throughout the week, focusing on big bets, line moves and updates leading up to the 8 p.m. ET kickoff.
Update: 4:22 p.m. ET, Saturday --
Four hours to kickoff of the unquestionable biggest game of the year, and it’s becoming pretty clear who sportsbooks will be rooting for tonight.
“We are rooting for the Tide to ROLL!!!” MGM sportsbook director Jay Rood wrote to Covers.com during the middle of one of the busiest Saturdays of the year for Nevada books. “It’s been all LSU money, on the spread and moneyline. However, the parlay action is pretty even.”
Todd Fuhrman of Caesars and Jeff Sherman of the Hilton sportsbooks also reported having taken more bets on LSU than on Alabama.
The same scenario seems to be emerging offshore, where Dave Mason from BetOnline.com reports that he also needs Alabama.
But while all reports indicate the majority of bettors are taking the Tigers, several books had moved the line from Alabama -4.5 to -5 around 4 p.m. ET. The Orleans went to Alabama -5 at 3 p.m. BetOnline.com also went to Alabama -5 in the middle of the afternoon.
So either books are playing coy or they’re trying to generate even more LSU money by tweaking the line. Hmmm …
--David Payne Purdum
Update: 11:45 a.m. ET, Saturday
-- Lines at the betting window are already 10-15 deep at the sportsbook at Caesars Palace, according to senior analyst Todd Fuhrman.
"Public continues to bet LSU, but we did take two limit bets on Alabama," Fuhrman told Covers.com. "If there's sharp Bama money out there most will come in closer to kickoff as the public drives the price down."Update: 11 a.m. ET, Saturday
-- One of the busiest Saturdays of the year for sportsbooks is in full swing at the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook, where assistant manager Jeff Sherman says it’s “extremely busy.”
“The ticket count is high on LSU,” Sherman told Covers.com Saturday morning. “That’s who the kids like.”
The line continues to vary slightly from book to book, with Alabama favored by 5 or 4.5 points depending on where you’re shopping.
The total is at 41.5 at most shops, with a few 42s out there. You can track the line right here
--David Payne PurdumUpdate: 3 p.m. ET, Friday --
Jay Rood, sportsbook manager for the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas, says almost all the action on the total for LSU-Alabama has been on the under, dropping most shops to 41 points. However, Rood isn't sold on an defenive battle between the top two stop units in the country.
"I think everyone is expecting a supreme defensive performance, but I wouldn't be surprised to see both sides put up around 30 points each," Rood told Covers.com
. "They practice against their own defense so I don't think there will be much of a shock when they take the field."
"I honestly don't think the pointspread will come into play, one way or the other," Rood said, believing either the Tigers or the Crimson Tide will win by a large margin.
As for action on the spread, Rood says its about 2-to-1 for LSU bets, but that most parlays have Alabama involved.Update: 12 p.m. ET, Friday
-- Vegas pro Steve Fezzik is focused on winning his third Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest and is currently only handicapping NFL. But he took time to glance at Alabama-LSU.
“The side and total are 'right',” Fezzik told Covers.com. “Big games tend to go 'under' so I will lean that way, but I am only doing NFL right now.”
As of Friday morning, approximately 20 hours before kickoff, Alabama was a 4.5-point favorite at most books. But there still were a few -5s out there for those thrifty Tiger shoppers.
The total has settled at 41, with only a couple variances out there.
You can check how the line has moved throughout the week at a dozen sportsbooks both in Vegas and offshore right here.
I'll be checking in with the MGM Mirage and other shops later today. Comment below if something interests you.
--David Payne Purdum
Update: 7 p.m., ET, Thursday
-- The Wynn Hotel Sportsbook is another one of the few Vegas shops still offering Alabama -5.
John Avello, Sportsbook Director and Linesmaker at Wynn Hotel Sportsbook, says they have Alabama at -5 right now after opening at -6. They also have the total at 41, down a point from their opening number.
“This is a good number for us right now,” Avello told Covers.com
about Alabama -5. “We’re getting a pile of action on both sides so we’re happy to ride it out for now. We know it’s not going higher than -6 and won’t be any lower than -4.”
Avello hasn’t seen much sharp action yet either and doesn’t expect to move his -5 line much until Saturday.
“I think the sharps are just waiting this one out,” he continued. “They know there will be a ton of square bets coming in on Saturday and with this matchup, it’s hard to know which way those bets may shift the line.”
The Wynn is expecting a large handle, but when asked whether it could rival BCS Championship game action, he wasn’t so sure.
“That’s a bit of a stretch,” Avelllo says. “With the game falling on Breeders’ Cup weekend, it will be a huge draw, and may have a bigger handle than most bowl games, but not the Championship. We’ll have that line up for a month.”
Meanwhile, Dave Mason says BetOnline.com is still projecting a bigger handle than last year's Auburn-Oregon finale.
"Yes we are still on pace to take more action on this game than last year's BCS Championship," Mason told Covers.com
. "LSU and the under are the public sides as of now but despite the majority of the action coming in on LSU, I think the line will go up a tad."
-- Ryan StetsonUpdate: 5:30 p.m. ET, Thursday
-- The sharp money hasn’t shown up yet.
“We haven’t take a single limit bet [on LSU-Alabama],” said Mike Colbert, sportsbook director for Cantor Gaming, which operates multiple sportsbooks across Las Vegas.
Colbert is one of the very few bookmakers still offering Alabama -5. The Crimson Tide are -4.5 almost everywhere else both in Nevada and offshore.
Seventy-five percent of Colbert’s tickets are on LSU, “but it’s all $20 and $50 bets.”
“The sharp money hasn’t come in yet,” said Colbert. “We’re leaning to Alabama in the game. Going by the pure data Alabama is the better team."
--David Payne PurdumUpdate: 11:45 a.m. ET, Thursday
-- Saturday’s showdown in Tuscaloosa has Vegas sportsbooks in a rare spot.
“From a sheer volume perspective, we have to respect the public’s opinion,” said Todd Fuhrman, senior race and sportsbook analyst at Caesars. “We’ll likely have as much public money on this game as we will sharp money.”
Fuhrman doesn’t expect the sharp money to come in until closer to gameday, and he believes it will be on the Tide.
“Vegas wise guys are going to wait until this line bottoms out to take Alabama,” Fuhrman said.
As of Thursday morning, Caesars has taken only one limit bet on the game and that came on Over 41.
As of noon ET, 90 percent of sportsbooks in Vegas and offshore have Alabama -4.5 with the total hanging around 42.
--David Payne Purdum
Update: 9 p.m., ET, Wednesday --
Covers.com has communicated with approximately 20 sportsbooks in Nevada and offshore, and one thing is clear – the sharp opinion on LSU-Alabama is extremely divided.
Jay Kornegay, sportsbook director at the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook, says the sharps are on LSU at his shop. But offshore at PinnacleSports.com, respected bettors are all over the Tide.
“While sharps viewed these two teams as dead even when we wanted to post an early line, a careful examination of the lines on other games made it clear this was not the case,” an oddsmaker at Pinnacle told Covers.com on Wednesday. “The market in general and our sharps especially have disliked LSU from day one compared to how the non-gambling world views them. If anything, the nature of this game is holding the line back, as it's hard for people to imagine this game being too uneven.
“The opening line shot up on sharp action and bounced around a lot without an outside market to stabilize it,” he continued. “A lot of people, sharp or otherwise, view taking the points in a game like this as an obvious “sharp play” resulting in the bulk of the bet count being on them. However, we’ve also seen some very sharp players on Alabama.”
From one email or phone call to the next, the story of who the sharps are betting really varies from book to book – and that includes the total, with the Hilton taking a limit bet on the under and Caesars taking a limit play on the over (see below).
Meanwhile, 59.79 percent of approximately 3,000 Covers.com handicappers
had chosen LSU as of 9 p.m. ET, Wednesday.
--David Payne Purdum, Ashton GrewalUpdate: 6:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday --
We checked in again with Todd Fuhrman, senior race and sportsbook analyst at Caesars, for our weekly checkup of all the big football line moves. Most shops are rolling out Alabama -4.5 now after opening at -5 and Fuhrman isn't sure this line is heading in the right direction.
“Public, public, public,” Fuhrman told Covers.com
about the line move. “For whatever reason the betting public believes they're pulling a quick one on the books grabbing LSU with the points and I'm not sure I see it quite the same way.
"Nick Saban off a bye playing at home with the best player on the field in Heisman hopeful Trent Richardson seems an awfully intriguing public fade in my opinion.”
-- Ryan StetsonUpdate: 2 p.m. ET, Wednesday
-- Bob Scucci, director of race and sports at Coast Casinos, predicts where the spread and total for the big game will land:
"I think you'll see the spread drop before it goes higher," Scucci told Covers.com
. "Anytime you've got two good teams playing each other, the public likes to bet the underdog. They like taking the points or they see the odds with the moneyline."
The Orleans and all other Coast Casino properties have LSU as 4.5-point dogs with the total resting at 42, a number Scucci says could go up.
"It's not a real, high total for college football. Both teams have great defenses but each team is averaging around 39 points per game. I could see this going one going over 42."
Couple other tidbits from Scucci: The talk about this game generating a larger handle than last year's national championship game is "a little exaggerated" according to Scucci. He reasons the BCS title game is always on a stand-only day where as LSU-Alabama goes on a busy college football Saturday.
The Coast Casino boss also said there's been great two-way action so far, although he's written a few more tickets on LSU. Scucci calls this game a bookmaker's game because of the popularity of both teams and where the line sits - in a dead area (between 4 and 6) and away from the kick numbers (3 and 7), which makes it easier to move the line when necessary numbers.
-Ashton GrewalUpdate: 9 a.m. ET, Wednesday
-- Vegas pro Ted Sevransky, aka Teddy Covers, brings up an interesting point.
"Remember the loser of this game still has a chance to end up ahead of Stanford and Boise State in the BCS rankings," Sevransky said. "So if someone is up 10 points with a minute to go, will they try to punch in another touchdown to knock their opponent out of the BCS race so they won't have to face them again?"
With all the attention being paid attention to this game, Sevransky doesn't believe there is a ton of value in the line.
"If I bet it, I'm going to bet Alabama," he said. "But is this game-of-the-year material? Of course not."
--David Payne PurdumUpdate: 3 p.m. ET, Tuesday
-- Todd Fuhrman, senior race and sportsbook analyst at Caesars, reports taking a limit bet on Over 41 on Sunday.
Seventy-five percent of the action has been on LSU at Caesars so far, according to Fuhrman.
--David Payne PurdumUpdate: 10 a.m., Tuesday
– Jeff Sherman, sportsbook manager at the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook, reports a limit wager was placed on Under 43.5, which drove the total down to 42.5.
Multiple sportsbooks, offshore and in Nevada, also received line moving money on the Under.
Four of the last five meetings between the Tigers and Tide have gone over the total, with the games averaging 42.6 points per game.
On July 24, the Hilton opened Alabama as a 5-point favorite over LSU as a part of its Games of the Year.
“The early action was on Alabama, driving the line up to -6.5,” said Sherman. “Since then, it has steadily declined back to where it sits now at Alabama -4.5.”
While most of the action on the spread is on LSU, the Crimson Tide are receiving a lot of support on the money line, which opened at -200 but is now -215, with LSU at +185.
--David Payne PurdumUpdate: Monday
-- BetOnline.com's Dave Mason
reports the betting action on LSU-Alabama is on pace to surpass the BCS National Championship Game between Oregon and Auburn.