CFP National Championship Preview: Can the Favored Tide Take the Title?

The last game of the college football season is almost here, as Alabama and Ohio State prepare to battle for the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night. The #1 Crimson Tide (12-0) are looking to end a three-year wait for a national title, while the #3 Buckeyes (7-0) are aiming to take home the trophy for the first time since 2014. Both teams have been among the college football betting favorites throughout the season, so their meeting is not unexpected. Clemson was a heavy betting favorite to take on Alabama, but Ohio State dismantled them in their semifinal, just as Alabama did to Notre Dame.

Monday night’s game at Hard Rock Stadium is slated to kick off at 8:00 pm ET, and it will kick off with Alabama as a strong favorite. The spread has moved slightly in Alabama’s favor since opening lines were released, as they are now favored by 8. Also, the Crimson Tide’s moneyline is at -290, while the Buckeyes sit at +240. With two of the nation’s top offenses on display, it is no surprise that the game total is well into the 70s. The number has fluctuated, but it presently sits at 75.

Alabama Betting News & Notes

Alabama will be playing for a national title for the eighth time in 12 seasons, and this team has been as dominant as any. There was a shootout at Ole Miss, a halftime deficit against Georgia, and a spirited comeback from Florida in the SEC Championship Game, but the Tide are very worthy of their #1 ranking.

The defense has been the backbone of many Alabama teams. This year’s defense has had some dominant performances, including against Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl. But it is the offense making the headlines this season. Jaylen Waddle’s broken ankle against Tennessee opened the path for Devonta Smith to become Mac Jones’s go-to target, and all Smith did was go on to become the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since 1991. Smith has 105 catches for 1,641 yards and 22 total touchdowns this season.

Jones, the Heisman betting favorite until being overtaken by Smith, has completed 77% of his passes for 4,036 yards and 36 touchdowns, with only four picks in 357 attempts. Running back Najee Harris (1,387 rushing yards & 24 TD, 36 catches for 346 yards & 4 TD) was unlucky to not be a Heisman finalist like Smith and Jones but has been as important.

The Tide lost All-American center Landon Dickerson to a season-ending knee injury in the SEC title game, with senior Chris Owens stepping in. Waddle was thought to be lost for the season, but he has returned to practice in a bid to be available. Receivers John Metchie and Slade Bolden and TE Jahleel Billingsley have stepped up in his absence, but Waddle could be a gamechanger if he can get the ball in his hands.

Ohio State Betting News & Notes

The most pressing question surrounding Ohio State is the health of star quarterback Justin Fields. Fields took a big hit to the ribs in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson, but he stayed in and threw for a career-high 385 yards and six touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ 49-28 win. All indications are that he will be able to go, but how much of a factor will his ribs be?

Fields (73.4% completion rate, 1,906 yards, 21 TD, 6 INT) had a career-worst three interceptions against Indiana and a poor performance against Northwestern in the Big Ten title game. But he is a special talent and the biggest key to Ohio State’s hopes of taking down the Tide.

It is timely that the running game has been stellar in their last two games. Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon ran for 331 yards and two scores in the Big Ten title game, and he followed it up with 193 rushing yards, four catches for 61 yards, and a touchdown against Clemson. Receiver Chris Olave has five 100-yard games this season, while Garrett Wilson has four, so they will be the focus of a lot of attention whoever is throwing the ball.

Betting Information

Odds via Bovada

Spread: Alabama -8 (-110), Ohio State +8 (-110)

Moneyline: Alabama -290, Ohio State +240

Total: Over 75 (-105), Under 75 (-115)

Key Trends & Best Odds

  • Alabama averages 48.2 points per game (2nd in the FBS), while Ohio State averages 43.4 (tied for fifth). Alabama’s team total is 38.5 (O -150, U +115), while Ohio State’s is 33.5 (O -105, U -125).
  • Only one national championship game in the CFP era has seen more than 75 points when Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 five years ago.
  • Alabama QB Mac Jones has thrown four or more touchdown passes seven times this season. He is -102 to have at least four scoring tosses.
  • Alabama has scored 21 or more first-half points in 11 games. Their team total for the first half is 20.5 (O -180, U +135). Ohio State has scored at least 17 first-half points in six games. Their team total for the first half is 16.5 (O -115, U -115). The total for the first half is set at 37.5 (O -120, U +100).

See Bovada for updated lines and odds.

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Ryan
A sports enthusiast, Ryan helps cover sports betting news from around the country, highlighting some of the more interesting events going on in the USA.