College football Week 15 features conference championship games, led by the Power 5 matchups that will determine the College Football Playoff participants. Covers checks in on the opening odds and early action, with insights from Matt Chaprales, head of content for PointsBet USA in New Jersey.
No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes (-12.5)
Ohio State has been a battering ram practically all season, winning by 24 points or more in all but one game, Week 13 against Penn State. In the Week 14 regular-season finale, the Buckeyes (12-0 SU, 9-3 ATS) boatraced archrival Michigan 56-27 as 9-point road favorites.
Wisconsin hit a two-week speed bump in October, stunningly losing at Illinois, followed by a 38-7 road beatdown catching 14.5 points at Ohio State. But the Badgers (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS) won their last four, claiming the Big Ten West with Saturday’s 38-17 victory as 3-point faves at Minnesota.
PointsBet USA took a stand by posting lines on the Power 5 title games Saturday night, and this number subsequently saw huge movement, rocketing to Buckeyes -16.5.
“Ohio State went off as two-touchdown favorites when these teams met in Columbus five weeks ago, so we ticked that down slightly for the neutral-field rematch,” Chaprales said. “We got hit hard and fast with Buckeyes money, though, so we had to react aggressively.”
The move to 16.5 seemed to get the attention of Badgers backers, as the number dialed down to 15.5 Monday for a Saturday meeting at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis.
No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs vs. No. 2 Louisiana State Tigers (-5.5)
Louisiana State also ran the table this season, including an impressive Week 11 road victory over Alabama. The Tigers (12-0 SU, 7-5 ATS) capped the regular season with a 50-7 trashing of Texas A&M laying 18 points in Week 14.
Georgia had just one slip-up this season, and oddly enough, it didn’t come against the top teams on its schedule – Notre Dame, Florida or Auburn – but rather at home to South Carolina in Week 7. The Bulldogs (11-1 SU, 7-5 ATS) won their next six, finishing with a 52-7 nonconference rout of Georgia Tech giving 28.5 points.
The Tigers went from -5.5 to -7 for this contest at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“This game means a lot more to Georgia – LSU’s resume is already pretty much unassailable – but it’s nonetheless been all Tigers action so far, resulting in a series of moves,” Chaprales said. “It will be interesting to see if 7 marks a resistance point.”
Apparently, 7 wasn’t that point, as the number went to Tigers -7.5 on Monday.
No. 14 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 6 Utah Utes (-6.5)
Utah could be the biggest beneficiary of No. 5 Alabama’s loss at Auburn, as that could help Kyle Whittingham’s squad earn a CFP berth – if it wins this Friday night battle. The Utes (11-1 SU, 9-3 ATS) are on a torrid 8-0 SU and ATS streak, including Saturday’s 45-15 victory over Colorado laying 27.5 points at home.
Oregon can’t get into the CFP, but a New Year’s Six bowl bid would surely await if it wins this tilt at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The Ducks (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS) were in the CFP hunt until Week 13, when they went to Arizona State as 13-point road favorites and lost outright 31-28. Oregon then notched a lackluster 24-10 home win over Oregon State giving 20.5 points.
“Oregon’s loss definitely hurt the Pac 12’s hopes for a playoff bid, and it’s the reason this line is pushing 7 as opposed to closer to a field goal,” Chaprales said. “Utah has also been a covering machine, and early action has backed the Utes.”
Indeed, after an initial drop to -5.5 late Saturday, Utah was bet back up to the opener of -6.5.
No. 9 Baylor Bears vs. No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (-7.5)
Much like Georgia, Oklahoma’s lone loss this year was a stunning one, at Kansas State as 23.5-point chalk, and Lincoln Riley’s troops followed by winning their next three by a combined total of 8 points. However, the Sooners (11-1 SU, 5-7 ATS) finished strong with a 34-16 victory over Oklahoma State as 14-point favorites Saturday.
Baylor, meanwhile, gets the opportunity to avenge its only loss this season and perhaps land a CFP bid. In Week 12, the Bears (11-1 SU, 8-4 ATS) had Oklahoma on the ropes with a 28-3 second-quarter lead, but stalled from there in a 34-31 home loss catching 11 points. Baylor capped the regular season with a 61-6 drubbing of Kansas as 14-point home faves.
“The Sooners haven’t exactly been world beaters lately,” Chaprales said. “But their huge comeback a few weeks ago is certainly fresh in bettors’ minds, which has fueled interest on the Oklahoma side.”
After a downward move to Oklahoma -6.5 late Saturday, PointsBet moved to Sooners -9 by Monday for a Saturday tilt at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Virginia Cavaliers vs. No. 3 Clemson Tigers (-21.5)
Clemson is a regular CFP participant, winning the championship last season and in the 2016-17 campaign while qualifying each of the past four years. The Tigers (12-0 SU, 9-3 ATS) had only one win closer than 14 points all season, and it was razor-close, a 21-20 victory at North Carolina as hefty 27.5-point favorites. Dabo Swinney’s squad closed the regular season with a 38-3 rout laying 27.5 points at South Carolina.
Virginia won four in a row and five of its last six to land a spot in this Saturday game in Charlotte, N.C. The Cavaliers completed the run with a 39-30 victory over Virginia Tech as 1.5-point home underdogs Saturday.
This line also made a huge move off the opening number, running all the way to Clemson -28.5.
“A pitfall of being first to post a huge game is that the market will quickly let you know if you’ve hung a bad number,” Chaprales said. “Case in point here, hence the significant adjustment.”
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.
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