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College Football Odds Breakdown


There’s little debate over the best two teams in college football. The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide and No. 2 Clemson Tigers seem like they were always destined to meet in Monday’s CFP National Championship (8 PM ET, ESPN). Back in June, Alabama were +175 title favorites on the NCAAF odds board, followed by Clemson at +600. Now here they are in their fourth straight CFP playoff matchup, and their third for the championship.


Each team enters Monday’s title game with the exact same record at 14-0 SU and 8-6 ATS. But the Crimson Tide have already disappointed their bettors – they dropped the cash at the Orange Bowl, beating Oklahoma 45-34 as 14.5-point favorites. The Tigers (–10.5), on the other hand, crushed the college football odds when they trounced Notre Dame 30-3 at the Cotton Bowl. Will we see more of the same Monday night at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara?



College Football Lines: The Favorite


Alabama may have lost against the spread to Clemson in their other two National Championship games, but they’re still the gold standard in college football, winning five titles under head coach Nick Saban since his arrival in Tuscaloosa. Beating the college football championship odds is a different story. The Tide are 0-3 ATS in their last three CFP title games, and 2-5 ATS in their last seven bowl games overall.


That’s partly because the betting public keeps saddling Alabama with chalk. The Tide opened as 6.5-point favorites to defend their title; they’re down to –6 at press time, while the total has fallen slightly from 61 points to 60. While Alabama has gotten most of the press, Clemson have built a winning program under head coach Dabo Swinney, one that has already proved capable of beating the Tide when the chips are down. Here’s a closer look at where both teams stand heading into the National Championship:




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1. Alabama Crimson Tide: –225 NCAA Football Odds


The Tide didn’t encounter much resistance during the regular season. They’re incredibly strong on offense and defense, with an absolute beast of a starting quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa – the hero of last year’s title win over Georgia. Tagovailoa didn’t win the Heisman Trophy, thanks in part to a high-ankle sprain late in the season, but he outperformed Heisman-winner Kyler Murray at the Orange Bowl, going 24-for-27 with four TD passes and no turnovers.


Alabama’s stout defense should be close to 100% for Monday’s matchup. Star LB Christian Miller left the game against Oklahoma with a hamstring injury; Miller’s MRI revealed a pull rather than a tear, so he’s likely to play against Clemson. But will he get any traction on the infamous turf at Levi’s Stadium? Conditions there were especially brutal during the Redbox Bowl on New Year’s Eve, where Oregon beat Michigan State 7-6 (UNDER 47). As the favorite, Alabama’s 2019 college football championship odds will be that much harder to cover if Monday produces another low-scoring affair.


Field conditions could also impact Alabama’s special teams – which may be their one and only weakness. The Tide rank No. 120 out of the 130 FBS teams in punting at 33.95 net yards, and they’re 76-for-84 on extra points. To make matters worse, there’s rain in the weekend forecast for Santa Clara, although it should clear up for the title game before returning on Tuesday.



College Football Lines



2. Clemson Tigers: +185 NCAA Football Odds


They’ve already beaten the NCAA championship betting odds twice against Alabama, splitting their title games in 2015 and 2016. This year’s squad might be even better. They’ve got the best defense in the FBS, and one of the nation’s top running backs in Travis Etienne, who sliced and diced Notre Dame for 109 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.


Will freshman QB Kelly Lawrence be their difference-maker? Clemson have stepped it up a notch since Lawrence took over for incumbent starter Kelly Bryant in Week 5; the Tigers have shredded the college football betting lines at 6-3 ATS since they pulled the trigger. Lawrence ranks 19th among qualifying starters with a 154.0 passer rating, and has thrown just four interceptions thus far.


Minimizing mistakes will be critical versus the Tide defense, on what could be a very unforgiving field in Santa Clara. Clemson’s special teams are even worse than Alabama’s overall, but not in those extra-important punting and place-kicking departments. Stay tuned to Bovada Sportsbook for the latest news, NCAAF Championship odds, and analysis for Monday’s big game.




*Odds as of January 3, 2019


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