This could go to +7. I have been hoping so, and it did at a couple of books but not for long.
How many points is enough for the books to get people to bet against Georgia? Don’t forget, the last time Alabama LOST an SEC Championship game was to Florida in 2008, a game I was at, actually. Georgia has been here five of the last ten years, and have gone 1-4. Don’t forget that UGA winning the SEC East has almost been by default, so these are all things I’d look at in an attempt to NOT take them. The only real question is is this year’s UGA team THAT much different. I mean, they always have a good defense, and of course their offense is better than ever, but look at their schedule, and I default to their almost auto-winning the SEC East. In fact, I could argue that the best defense they faced was Clemson and not an SEC team, and did they really face a good offense? I could also argue that Alabama doesn’t have a great offense and that their defense IS suspect, but maybe we’re holding them to the standard of previous Alabama teams. The certainly don’t suck. Going in, I had UGA with the better situation, knowing that they had a cakewalk against Tech and Alabama was going to have their hands full at Auburn. BUT, because once again they found a way to win a game they had no business winning, I actually think that gives them a competitive advantage for this week mentally, and it ALSO showed they can play with their backs against the wall, something UGA hasn’t had to, and I really wonder how UGA reacts if Alabama gets ahead early. So, for that reason, I am taking Uncle Nick. UGA has been favored by 14 or more in every game since week one. Alabama has been favored by 14 or more in every game, period. The last time Alabama was an underdog? 2015 by one to UGA. They won 38-10. I think Alabama being underdogs will ALSO be a motivator. They KNOW what the spread is. Georgia reads their hype machine and Alabama reads the scoreboard. Sorry, USA, just like New England, they’re not going away. Yes, UGA has been and may be the better team, but beating Alabama by a touchdown isn't a given.
I am going to go through these games and share where I'm at midweek, and some will become bets:
Oklahoma State/Baylor: I've been high on the Cowboys all year, and weeks ago gave them a chance to make the CFP playoff, so it's going to take a lot to talk me off the horse, no pun intended. With that said, I've liked Baylor as well. The did lose earlier this season to Oklahoma State, and I'm not sure (yet) what impact that has, but their only other loss was to a fired up TCU team that they caught at the wrong time - right when Patterson stepped down. So, there's no reason to think they can't win this game. Oklahoma State clearly does have the better defense and in fact are 6th in the nation against the rush, and Baylor IS a run-first team. The Cowboys are also a run-first team and BAYLOR has a good run defense. Baylor can be vulnerable on the back end of their defense, but I am not sure Oklahoma State passing game is one that can easily take advantage of it. That would make the obvious bet on the under, and we may well do that. But, one or both coaches may break rank early and choose to not go strength against strength, hence put the ball up sooner rather than later. That would mean which coach do we trust more? I usually DO trust Gundy, but Aranda has been in plenty of big games with LSU, so I can't discount him, either. Maybe we let that total continue to drop and take the over? But, if I had to right now, I think I'm getting of the Cowboy horse. It could well be a low scoring game after all I don't think Ok State can get and maintain margin. It'll come down to, as many games do, who makes the mistake at the wrong time. Baylor FG team is better, and they're slightly better in turnover margin, I think OK St has the pressure while Baylor is playing for free, so it may well be Baylor sooner rather than later.
I’m sure by what scenario, but Oregon has at least a chance at the final four and being 19th going into last week, Utah does not. I could argue that Utah can play with less pressure, and it’s obviously payback for two week ago when Utah smoked Oregon at home. Those are things everyone knows, and they probably know Utah isn’t the same team on the road. So, it’s an obvious Oregon bet, or no? Utah on the road this season - lost at BYU and SDSU. Lost at Oregon State. Beat a terrible Arizona team by nine and let them score 29 points. I know this isn’t a true road game, but it’s not IN Utah which counts for something. I know we’ve got the lower ranked team as favorites, and I know that’s a yellow flag, but Utah is NOT going to run for over 200 yards like they did against Oregon earlier this season. That game was as close to the biggest home game for the Utes, maybe ever. On the flip side, I’m not sure, aside from beating Ohio State, a win that looks worse after seeing what Michigan did last week, that I see a truly dominant win over a good team by Oregon. And, I think it’s Utah playing this game with nothing whatsoever to lose, given their history of being good but not great, and that’s always a tough team to play. So, inasmuch as I LIKE Oregon and always have, I TRUST Utah more. Especially seeing how Oregon let that Oregon State game be closer than it needed to be. Right now lean Utah, but the market might be leaning the other way, so what I have to do is decide whether the market trumps my work or not. We will wait until there's more money involved, hence a more liquid market.
Wake/Pitt: Whichever defense gets the last stop is gonna win. Wake is certainly the more public team, especially after hammering BC in a game that many sharp people had the Eagles. And yet, the Panthers are favored, which honestly I didn’t see coming. This is one I truly have to handicap the numbers, especially since neither coach and neither team has been here before, so finding a trust angle just isn’t there for me. Pitt clearly has the better defense, so if I look no further that would be the default bet. But as usual, that’s obvious and factored in. But, defensively Wake just sucks against the run and is surprisingly decent against the pass, so I think it’s incumbent upon Pitt’s offense to be more patient that maybe they’re used to being. Nobody runs on Pittsburgh, and although they’re vulnerable against the pass, they’re also 7th in the nation in sack percentage. So, while I now see why Pitt is favored, it’s a fairly weak 3, but I can’t get to Wake. I think Wake needs to play a perfect game whereas Pitt has some leeway, so I lean Panthers. As far as that huge total - well, it’s a night game and surprisingly warm for Charlotte this time of year, but needing 11 touchdowns to lose the game I think I’d have to take the under. If I were betting the over, I like the 1H better because I don’t think either team has anything to lose and it shouldn’t start slow.
The market seems to like Cincinnati. It's hard tp ignore because I cant give Houston 10+ points and dont want to flip. Cougars, under, or pass. Both defenses are elite, so probably under.