As of early Thursday (12/23), most books had Alabama installed as a 19.5-point favorite vs. Notre Dame in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff. It is the largest spread in CFP history since its inception in 2014.
The total was 65.5 points at most spots. Circa Sports had the Fighting Irish with +845 money-line odds, but most shops had Brian Kelly’s team with +700 odds to win outright.
Alabama (11-0 straight up, 8-3 against the spread) saw its 7-0 ATS run end in this past Saturday’s 52-46 win over Florida as a 16.5-point favorite. Nevertheless, Nick Saban’s team has still won seven of its last eight games by margins of 29 points or more.
When the Crimson Tide has been favored by 18 points or more this year, it has compiled a 7-2 ATS record. Meanwhile, Notre Dame (10-1 SU, 5-6 ATS) has a 1-1 record both SU and ATS in a pair of underdog situations this year.
The Fighting Irish tasted defeat for the first time this past Saturday when Clemson avenged a 47-40 double-overtime loss in South Bend, winning 34-10 as a 10.5-point ‘chalk’ in the ACC Championship Game.
Eight of Notre Dame’s 10 wins have come by margins of 14 points or more.
These teams haven’t met since the 2012-2013 BCS Championship Game, where Nick Saban’s team rolled to a 42-14 win as a 9.5-point favorite. The 56 combined points went ‘over’ the 40.5-poin tally.
In the other CFP semifinal, second-ranked Clemson (10-1 SU, 5-5 ATS) will take on third-ranked Ohio St. As of early Thursday, most spots had the Tigers installed as 7.5-point favorites with a total of 65.5. The Buckeyes were +250 on the money line.
When these teams met in last year’s CFP semifinals, Clemson rallied to win a 29-23 decision to cover the number as a 2.5-point ‘chalk.’ The 52 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 62.5-point tally.
These schools also collided in the 2016-2017 CFP semifinals, with Clemson capturing a 31-0 win as a one-point underdog. Furthermore, the Tigers bested the Buckeyes 40-35 as 2.5-point underdog at the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3 of 2014. The 75 combined points slipped ‘over’ the 72-point total.
Ohio St. (6-0 SU, 3-3 ATS) looked ordinary at the Big Ten Championship Game, trailing for most of the first half and third quarter in a 22-10 win over Northwestern. The Buckeyes failed to cover the spread as 17-point favorites.