Bryan Lynn, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa
- The Alabama at LSU game will be the most heavily bet game of the college football season according to Vegas bookmakers.
- The Westgate SuperBook is taking two-way action so far, but they expect to need LSU to cover.
- Other sportsbooks around town are seeing mostly Alabama money.
Alabama at LSU is easily the biggest game of the college football season to date. As early as Tuesday this game had the sportsbooks buzzing.
The Crimson Tide has had a relatively easy schedule so far, and, subsequently a pretty easy time with their opponents. This will be the first real test for Alabama and potentially it’s only test for the season given the weakness of its schedule.
There’s no doubt that the Tide are the deepest team in the country. They have the likely Heisman winner at quarterback but will Tua Tagovailoa be able to handle the best secondary he’s faced this season.
While most of the bookmakers in Vegas don’t think LSU has a chance at pulling off the upset, they are seeing the Tigers get some support in what will certainly be the biggest bet game of the college football season.
John Murray, director at the Westgate SuperBook, sees plenty of value on the underdog and bettors are following suit.
“I think this sets up to be the best handle weekend of the year in college football mostly because of this game,” Murray said. “So far, most of the money in the Alabama-LSU game has actually come in on the underdog which doesn’t really surprise me all that much.”
Even though Alabama is obviously a public darling, bettors are having a tough time passing up 14.5 to 15 points on a home team that is ranked No. 3 in the College Football Playoff Rankings.
“It’s not hard to convince people that they’re getting a bargain taking 15 points on a home team ranked in the Top 5 in the country,” Murray said. “LSU has played one of the most difficult schedules in the country and they have swung together some very impressive wins. The reality is we still don’t know just how good Alabama is because they haven’t played anyone noteworthy this season.”
Even though the betting splits are pretty balanced at the Westgate at the time of writing (Thursday evening), sportsbook supervisor Derek Wilkinson has a feeling they’ll be an LSU house on Saturday.
“We’ve seen action on both sides and are fairly even in terms of liability. However, by game time, I imagine we’re going to need LSU quite a bit,” Wilkinson said.
Will Bernanke of CG Technologies says he also see value on the Tigers, even though they took some big-money bets on the Crimson Tide. While the Westgate has seen two-way action on this game so far, the CG properties are writing a lot more Alabama tickets than LSU ones.
“We opened the game at Alabama -14 and it went to -14.5 and then we took a couple of big-limit bets from a couple of our regulars who I respect and that pushed the line all the way up to -15.5 which is the highest in town I believe,” Bernanke explained. “We’re taking 76% of the money on ‘Bama right now and it’s been mostly public money driving that number up. So it seems like the bettors aren’t believing in LSU. I’ve been reading that some of the metrics suggest Alabama should be an even higher favorite than this. I don’t think I agree with that but that’s what they’re saying.”
Sunset Station — part of Station Casinos — will also be rooting on LSU to cover. Sportsbook manager Chuck Esposito believes the Alabama support will keep coming up until kick.
“We actually posted this game a few weeks ago to build some more interest and it opened at -14 and went up to -14.5 like it has around town,” Esposito said. “You talk about an Alabama team that has covered all 8 games in the first half but that hasn’t been the case in the final score. LSU’s only loss was at Florida and I think they’re playing better than people expected. I still expect this number to continue to go up a little bit simply because it’s Alabama but Tiger Stadium is a really tough place to play especially at night. It’s going to be the highest wagered college football game of the weekend and likely the season before the major bowls start.”