Golden Nugget in Las Vegas Posts BCS w/ Lines, Saban Likely Upset
By Larry Burton
Most reporters in the press room cringed when a rookie reporter asked about possible post season opponents. “C’mon guys, I’m not going to talk about what could happen against who later in the season, but if you want to ask me something about our next opponent, I’m open to questions.” Nick Saban told a group of us once in a press conference. “We can only prepare for the next game this week and I’m not going to keep telling you that I do just what I ask my ask my team to do, focus on one game at a time and not look down the road, a’right?” He finished with a look on his face that let you know he meant it and was upset to have to say that to us all one more time.
So while looking ahead is something Saban won’t do, won’t discuss and upsets him greatly, we as reporters can and will do it with great fervor.
This week the Las Vegas gambling casino and hotel Gold Nugget came out with their College Football National Championship Game favorite scenarios with betting odds.
For Alabama fans the news is good. Of the four likely opponents they see Alabama playing, Alabama is favored to win in all four games. In order of likelihood, they break down as follows:
Alabama vs Oregon – Bama favored by 3
Alabama vs Baylor – Bama by 10
Alabama vs Ohio State – Bama by 9.5
Alabama vs Fla. State – Bama by 5.5
While it’s good news for Alabama fans that they are favored, the margins seem smaller that they are used to seeing for their annual BCS butt whippings they impose on opponents. So are the competitors just better than the other teams that Alabama have faced in prior years or do the odds makers just not believe as much in this year’s version of the Crimson Tide?
Some, like Sporting News linesmaker Kenny White think the lines could a little low, especially the Oregon line. He says, “Oregon hasn’t played anybody, they’ve bolstered their power rating on blowouts of Virginia and Tennessee.” White would make the potential Alabama-Oregon point spread seven, including 2.5 points head coach Nick Saban would represent over Mark Helfrich.
Last season I was ridiculed for being an “Alabama Homer” when I was a guest on a nationally syndicated network discussing last year’s Alabama – Notre Dame match up when I predicted that Alabama would beat Notre Dame by at least five touchdowns. They said no one with any common sense is making such a goofy prediction so why did I feel justified in making such a “wild” prediction?
For the record, Alabama beat Notre Dame by five touchdowns and could have beaten them worse had they wanted to. The reason I gave was that I could find no man on Notre Dame’s team that was better that the Alabama man that would be faced against, not one.
Again, I was called foolish for thinking that Manti Te’o was not better than any Alabama man he would face, but again, Te’o was completely manhandled the entire game by first, second and third string players of Alabama. He didn’t make one significant play the entire game.
So what do I say about the match ups and the lines this year? At least these four teams do have at least some men that my be better than the person they’ll be responsible for, but not enough to matter.
Oregon – Unlike Notre Dame, this is a team that can and will score against the Tide and while they don’t have an SEC defense, they are better over all than most teams. The difference will be Alabama’s defense. They will stop Oregon more than Oregon will or can stop Alabama. Alabama by 12.
Baylor – A very prolific offense that will present problems to the Alabama secondary, but absolutely no big bad dogs on defense. Alabama could score on almost every possession. Alabama by 17.
Ohio State – Decent enough offense, but no way they’ll stop the bulldozing the Alabama offense will put on them. Ohio State will have sand kicked in their face and more Big Ten jokes will emerge. Alabama by 21.
Florida State – Finally a team with a prolific offense and an aggressive defense. This could be the Tide’s toughest match up. Jimbo Fisher knows Saban’s tactics well. Where an Ohio State would play the game trying not to be embarrassed, Florida State would play the game as a team of destiny and play to win. Here I might agree with the Gold Nugget folks Alabama by seven.
Though it’s way too early to make accurate predictions based on possible injuries, losses and other factors, it’s fun to look forward and play this game at this point in the season, you just don’t discuss such things to Nick Saban.
Larry is an award winning writer whose work has appeared in almost every college football venue. Now he primarily writes for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter