An Ode to Alabama-Oklahoma, The Perfect Gambling Game
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: CeeDee Lamb
The gambling entertainment value of any game can swing wildly depending on the side you bet.
Had under 38.5 in the Cheez-It Bowl? Nine interceptions, 192 total passing yards and 17 points is a blessing. Horrid for the average viewer, but a blessing for you.
Had Clemson -11 vs. Notre Dame? A boring game, but exactly the defensive effort you were looking for from the Tigers. You won’t hear a single complaint from Clemson bettors despite it being a snoozer.
Objectively, Alabama’s 45-34 win over Oklahoma was the perfect gambling game. The Sooners ended up covering the 14.5-point spread, but not without drama.
Covering, not covering. Inside and outside of the point spread five times in the final 20 minutes. It was the perfect gambling game because the game itself never really seemed in doubt, but the point spread was always in doubt. As a bettor of any side, you were never out of it, or fully confident.
This Orange Bowl came down to the absolute final seconds, when Alabama took a knee inside the Oklahoma 10-yard line after the Sooners snuck in the backdoor with a touchdown a few minutes earlier. The over also hit (if you had it at 78.5 or less) with that late score.
This game kept us on the edge of our seats for the entire fourth quarter, and especially on Alabama’s final drive, as bettors on both sides wondered whether the Tide might break off a long touchdown run while trying to milk the clock.
The Sooners worked their way back into the game in the second quarter, and wouldn’t let their backers die in the fourth quarter with two touchdown drives.
- Down 31-13 with 20 minutes left: 6 plays, 75 yards for a TD
- Down 38-20 with about 13 minutes left: 14 plays, 80 yards for TD.
- Down 45-27 with about 6 minutes left: 6 plays, 74 yards for TD.
And it wasn’t just the end. A cover on either side, an over or an under seemed possible, if not likely, for much of the game.
As the masses tuned the game out at 28-0, Oklahoma bettors hung tight and believed in its offense, or even live bet the Sooners again. Alabama bettors thought Tua and the Tide would never be stopped.
As Alabama recovered two onside kicks in the fourth quarter and scored quickly, there was always plenty of hope for -14.5. Bama bettors just needed one stop.
It was beautiful in so many ways.
The spread barely moved from Alabama -14 after opening on Dec. 2, save for a few blips to -14.5 throughout December and a few hours before the game.
This line was perfect before the game. We always knew it had the potential for drama with a lethal offense catching two touchdowns, figuring it might be in catchup mode thanks to its putrid defense. And we got it.
The College Football Playoff semifinals have largely disappointed in the last five years — I’d argue just three of the 10 games have been interesting, including this one.
Bettors on all sides got their money’s worth. Except anyone on Alabama. Or under 78.5. Or over 80.
You lost, but you were part of perfection.