Here at Derby Day Racing, not only do we love horse racing, we love the competition of all sports. Handicapping sports is just like handicapping horses: you need to do your research, find the right angles, and find the value plays to make a profit. College football’s National Championship game is Monday night, so what better way to start our endeavor into sports betting than handicapping college football’s biggest game.
The Kentucky Derby (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup World Championships are the pinnacle in horse racing. Fans love the history and the competition of both of these events. Something else they both have in common is they offer wagering opportunities. As much as I love the sport of racing for the beauty of the horses and the fierce competition, I love it just as much for the handicapping aspect, the chance to make a profit and prove my opinion right.
The number one team in the nation and the reigning National Champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide, who have gone undefeated this season, will square off against the number two-ranked Clemson Tigers, who are also undefeated this season, in what looks to be a clash of the titans.
Alabama has really only faced one serious challenge this season and that was in the SEC Championship game, where Georgia led most of the affair before surrendering the lead late in the fourth quarter. Alabama suffocated Oklahoma early in the Orange Bowl, jumping out to a quick 28-0 lead. The defense surrendered points late in the second half, but the Tide held on to win 45-34.
Like Alabama, Clemson has been dominant this year. Dabo Swinney’s Tigers have only been tested hard twice. Early on in the season in a 28-26 win over Texas A&M, and a 27-24 victory over Syracuse. Even with stud first-team All-American defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence unable to play due to suspension, the Tigers pitched a near shut-out against third-ranked Notre Dame, swarming their offense to hold them to only a field goal in a dominant 30-3 victory in the Cotton Bowl.
The early betting line has Alabama at -6, with the over/under at 59.5.
The key to the game for Clemson will be how freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence handles the pressure of Alabama’s defensive line. Lawrence was not phased in the Cotton Bowl, completing 27 of 39 pass attempts while racking up 327 yards and three touchdowns. What impressed me most about Lawrence was his poise converting nine of 18 third down scenarios.
Two other major factors will be the health of Alabama’s starting quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, who has been battling an ankle injury, and if Alabama can take advantage at the line of scrimmage with the absence of Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence.
Since Swinney took over as head coach of the Tigers, they are 75-58 against the spread and an impressive 17-9 against the spread as an underdog. As great as Nick Saban is, Swinney is not far behind. Clemson is 2-1 against the spread in the last four seasons against Alabama. In 2016, the Tigers gave the Tide all they wanted in 45-40 defeat in the National Title game. In the very next season, the Tigers defeated the Tide 35-31. Last season, Alabama easily won 24-6 in their playoff match up.
I am giving you two plays for the National Championship game:
I will take Clemson +6. Clemson averages over 44 points a game, while Alabama averages over 55. Alabama’s defense has shown they can be scored on and Clemson will be missing their best defense player, therefore, I will also take the over at 59.5.
If history repeats itself, we are in for an entertaining Championship game!