Las Vegas bettors Nick Saban Alabama
Coach Nick Saban is after his sixth NCAA National Championship and fifth at Alabama, but Las Vegas bettors are putting their cash on Clemson. (Image: Kirby Lee/USATSI)

Las Vegas bettors aren’t convinced #1 Alabama (14-0) will roll over #3 Clemson (13-1) during Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship.

Though Nick Saban’s Southeastern Conference (SEC) squad hasn’t lost a game since dropping to Ole Miss on September 19, 2015, those who are willing to put their money where their beliefs are think Dabo Swinney’s Atlantic Coast Conference team can pull off the upset.

Following the semifinals on New Year’s Eve, gamblers flocked to Nevada sportsbooks to take the underdogs over the defending NCAA Division I champs. The line opened with Alabama as about a six-point favorite, but that number has grown to as much as 7.5 thanks to an early rush of activity on the team from South Carolina.

In fact, the Westgate SuperBook says of the first $11,020 wagered on the title rematch, just $20 was on Alabama.

Alabama appears to be the complete college football team, but Clemson, led by superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson, is playing extremely well on the defensive side of the ball this year. The team is fresh off a shutout of #2 Ohio State.

“We’re the same coaching staff. They’re the same coaching staff,” Saban said. “Defensively they’ve got some new faces out there, and we’ve got a freshman quarterback, which makes us different.”

Bookmakers Thrown the Book

While the semifinals of the College Football Playoff were less than entertaining for fans, as #1 Alabama steamrolled #4 Washington 24-7, and #3 Clemson routed #2 Ohio State 31-0. But in in the Silver State, the bashings led to big losses for sportsbooks.

The Tide was favored by 14 points, while the Buckeyes were picked to beat the Tigers by three. Most of the wagers placed prior to the semifinals were on Alabama and Clemson.

“We got crushed, just crushed,” SuperBook Assistant Manager Ed Salmons told ESPN. “Every bet we wrote . . . was Alabama and Clemson.”

Jay Rood, MGM’s vice president of race and sports, added, “It was a bloodbath.”

Redemption Time

Come January 9, Clemson will get another shot at Alabama, and with it, the CFP National Championship Trophy.

Those looking to back Clemson will find their best odds at Wynn Las Vegas and MGM Mirage, where as of Thursday the Tigers were still being spotted a touchdown. Westgate, William Hill, and Stations all have the Tide giving only 6.5 points.

The moneyline, a straight bet that is solely determined on who wins without a point spread, is hovering around -230 to -250 on Alabama. That means the bettor will need to risk up to $250 on Alabama to win just $100.

Clemson’s moneyline is ranging between +185 to +210. A $100 bet returns those figures should Swinney’s club come out the victor.

ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) Matchup Predictor gives Alabama a 60.4 percent chance of winning. The FPI projects results based on 10,000 simulations utilizing data from previous games.

FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s statistical analysis website that correctly predicted the vote winner in all 50 states during the 2012 presidential election, has Alabama with a 62 percent chance of repeating as champions.

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