No. 3 Clemson Tigers vs. No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes – Open: +2; Move: None
Defending national champion Clemson is in the CFP for the fifth straight year and is seeking its third national title in four years. The Tigers (13-0 SU, 10-3 ATS) head into this 8 p.m. ET clash as the nation’s best spread-covering team, after drubbing Virginia 62-17 as massive 29-point favorites in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Ohio State is equally impressive on the field and almost as impressive for bettors, with marks of 13-0 SU and 9-4 ATS. The Buckeyes won every game by double digits, including a 56-27 road bashing of archrival Michigan as 9-point favorites to wrap up the regular season. In the Big Ten title game, Ryan Day’s troops beat Wisconsin for the second time this year, 34-21 laying 16.5 points.
“We’re approaching 4/1 money on Clemson, with a ton of tickets on both sides,” Shelton said of pointspread action at The Mirage and other MGM books. “Moneyline money is 2/1 on Clemson, but tickets are 4/1 on Ohio State. We need Ohio State as of right now, to win or cover, doesn’t matter.”
Shelton said one bettor has a $73,000 wager on Clemson -2 and a $20,000 two-team parlay of Clemson -2/LSU -12.5, to win $52,000.
MGM books opened the total at 64 and ticked to 63 by Friday night.
“It’s almost dead-even two-way money,” Shelton said. “There’s a handful more tickets on the Over.”
No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 1 Louisiana State Tigers – Open: -12.5; Move: -13; Move: -13.5; Move: -14
Behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow, Louisiana State put together a sterling season highlighted by a Week 11 46-41 victory as a 5-point underdog at Alabama. The Tigers (13-0 SU, 8-5 ATS) capped the regular season with a 50-7 blasting of Texas A&M as 18-point favorites, then trounced Georgia 37-10 laying 7.5 points in the Southeastern Conference title game.
Oklahoma’s path to the CFP semifinals was a bit more difficult, particularly after a 48-41 loss at Kansas State as a hefty 23.5-point fave in Week 9. The Sooners (12-1 SU, 5-8 ATS) easily could have lost two or three more games after that, but managed to stay upright and reach the Big 12 final. In that contest, they beat Baylor for a second time this year, 30-23 in overtime giving 9 points.
“We took a $40,000 bet on LSU -13.5 and went to LSU -14” late Friday night, Shelton said of spread activity. “But money is not even 2/1 LSU, and ticket count is within 100, with a ton of tickets on both sides.”
However, the Tigers are getting a lot of moneyline parlay play, including a couple of $100,000 wagers, helping stack up liability in that aspect.
“And there are tons of five-figure moneyline parlays tied to LSU,” Shelton said. “Right now, it looks like we don’t lose on the pointspread. For a monster payday, we need an Oklahoma outright win. If the Sooners cover, we might eke out something small.”
The total ticked from 76 to 76.5 Friday, with tickets and money leaning toward the Over, but Shelton said it’s not much of a decision.
Kickoff is at 4 p.m. ET.
Camping World Bowl
Iowa State Cyclones vs. No. 15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Open: -3.5; Move: None
Midway through the season, Notre Dame was a CFP/New Year’s Six prospect at 5-1 SU, but not so after getting trucked at Michigan 45-14 as a 1-point ‘dog. However, the Irish won their last five SU and last four ATS, wrapping with a 45-24 victory at Stanford as 17.5-point favorites.
Iowa State nearly knocked off Oklahoma in Week 11, opting to go for a 2-point conversion and the win on the road in the final minute of a 42-41 loss as 14-point pups. The Cyclones (7-5 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) rebounded with two victories, then went to Kansas State as 4-point favorites and exited with a 27-17 outright loss in the regular-season finale.
“It hasn’t budged off Notre Dame -3.5,” Shelton said of this noon ET kickoff. “Tickets are 5/1 and money almost 7/1 on Notre Dame. We just need Iowa State, no two ways about it.”
No. 17 Memphis Tigers vs. No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions – Open: -7; Move: None
The third New Year’s Six bowl game of the day is the first to tee it up, with a noon kickoff at AT&T Stadium.
Penn State was in the running for the Big Ten title game before a Week 11 loss at Minnesota as 6.5-point chalk, then mounted a comeback at Ohio State before falling 28-17 catching 20 points in Week 13. The Nittany Lions (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS) finished with a 27-6 win over Rutgers as massive 38.5-point favorites.
Memphis earned a spot in this game by virtue of being the highest-ranked team from the Group of 5 conferences. The Tigers (12-1 SU, 8-5 ATS) beat Cincinnati in back-to-back weeks, 34-24 as 14-point home faves in the regular-season finale, then 29-24 giving 9 points at home in the American Athletic Conference title game.
“The line hasn’t budged,” Shelton said, noting only a Dec. 12 juice adjustment from -110 to even money at Penn State -7. “Money is all Penn State, 4/1, and tickets are close to 5/1 in favor of Penn State.”