Tall total for national title game allows books to be more liberal with spread

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USA Today Sports

Football bettors are still picking their jaws up off the ground following a shocking set of College Football Playoff semifinals in the Rose and Sugar Bowls.

Whether it was Oregon’s dominance over the defending national champs Florida State, or Ohio State stunning No. 1 Alabama: the odds for the National Championship Game are packed with plenty of intrigue.

Oddsmakers opened with the Ducks set as 7.5-point favorites for the Jan. 12 title game and the sharps pounced on the underdog Buckeyes, trimming the spread to a touchdown. Since that move, action has sided with Oregon, but bookmakers are so quick to go back to the original half-point hook on this line.

“Since going to 7, we’re seeing more and more action come in on (Oregon) but instead of going to back to 7.5, we added five cents juice to the -7 and are dealing -7 -115,” Peter Childs of Sportsbook.ag tells Covers. “I believe we’ll be getting back to 7.5 at some point, but for now we’re fine with the bets coming in at the -7 (-115) number.”

The total for the National Championship Game is providing more of a challenge for football bettors. Books opened this number as low as 73.5 and that has since been hiked to 75 points with 75 percent of the handle sitting on the Over.

The 75-point number ranks the 2014-15 title game among the highest totals in bowl history. That Over/Under sits tied for the ninth-highest bowl total ever, with the 75-point number for Oregon’s 42-31 win over Oklahoma State in the 2008 Holiday Bowl.

With Oregon’s 59-20 win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl, which played Over the 74-point total, there have been 29 bowl games with closing totals of 70 points or more since 1985. Those games are 18-11 O/U heading into the national title game. In bowls with totals of 74 points or more in that 29-year span, the Over/Under is a profitable 11-4 – 73 percent Over winners.

Having a total so high has given bookmakers some extra wiggle room with the spread, according to Childs.

“We all know that seven is a very live number in football, but when dealing with a total of 75 points, it places far less value on the seven,” he says. “We’ll be more liberal going back and forth from seven to 7.5 because it’s far less likely to fall seven with the current point total at 75.”

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