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With the college football National Championship game upon us, for the first time in a long time there are no arguments, no debates, and no protests as to why other teams are more deserving to be here. Alabama and Ohio State — the last two undefeated ranked teams in the nation, square off in the matchup everyone was hoping for.

I made the line here between -8 and -10 points for the Crimson Tide depending on injury/illness. When it officially came out making Alabama a seven-point favorite, the public immediately bet it up to -8 and it is now floating between -7 and -7.5. 

For many years, the favorite won and covered in the title game. Then the tide (no pun intended) flowed in the opposite direction with the underdogs not just covering, but winning a few contests outright as well.

For me personally, I am torn. When I was a kid in the early ‘70’s, my father, a respected horse player and sports bettor, turned on the tube one Saturday morning to watch a game he had wagered on. I took one look at Paul “Bear” Bryant on the sideline, arms folded with that stoic look on his face, and that patented houndstooth fedora and I immediately fell in love with Alabama football.

But there are two places your heart doesn’t belong, in love and in sports betting.

Growing up now, the handicapper in me instantly leaned on the underdog here with all those points. Especially after last week’s dismantling of a Trevor Lawrence-led Clemson team in the Sugar Bowl. Many out there, including me, felt that Ohio State did not belong in the College Football Playoff. Prior to last week’s CFP semifinal, I did not feel the Buckeyes would be so dominating on both sides of the ball.

They showed how good they are by overcoming a seven-point deficit to then outscore the Tigers 42-14. However, there are no more cards up OSU’s sleeve, the cat is out of the bag now. ‘Bama has seen all they can do. And there are very few coaches as good at preparing a squad for a big game as Nick Saban. And a big no-no in betting is not judging a team solely from their last performance.

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Saban and Alabama does have their work cut out for them. Ohio State has a well-balanced offense and Justin Fields has taken his game to another level. This is a unit that ranks 42nd in passing, 5th in rushing, and 8th in scoring. Take note, that this “O” revolves around Fields and last week he got banged up a bit against Brent Venables’ Clemson defense. He will play, but those ribs might still be tender here and that may be a factor.

Speaking of injuries, the Buckeyes’ injured list is so long it rivals a Bill Belichick Patriots list, so be sure to check the status of those who are hurt. That’s something the Crimson Tide doesn’t have to worry about, being just about full strength.

Head coach Ryan Day must be concerned with the vastly improved defense of Alabama. Outside of the shootout with Florida in the SEC title game, Pete Golding’s stop-unit have held every opponent to 24 or less since early-October.

On the opposite side of the ball, with Heisman candidate Mac Jones and the explosive Crimson Tide offensive juggernaut, which accounts for 49.7 PPG, the Buckeyes will not have the same success defensively as last week in getting their foe off the field. Alabama’s big three — Jones, Najee Harris, and DeVonta Smith — will control the clock and keep the OSU defense on the field and more importantly, their offense off of it. Jones is smart and savvy and has the luxury being protected by one of the biggest and stoutest offensive lines in the nation. Smith, who was expected to win the Heisman Tuesday night, can hurt the opposition as a receiver, a runner and a kick or punt returner. He will be a handful for Ohio State to deal with.

Day is a sharp guy and his team is loaded with talent but they are not impervious to perhaps being in a letdown situation here either. That game last week vs. the Tigers was a matchup the Buckeyes were dreaming of since being ousted from last year’s CFP semifinal by Clemson. Maybe the wind just might be out of their sails a bit here.

Ohio State is 1-4 ATS the last five following an ATS win and 1-4 ATS the last five vs. teams with a winning record. Alabama is 7-1 ATS the last eight following an ATS loss and 7-1 ATS the last eight vs. the Big Ten.

Being that this line is around a hot number, listen to Smokey Robinson’s mama, and shop around. Get the -7 and roll with the Tide. ALABAMA

Last week: 1-4

Season: 33-27

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