12/06/2012 3:42PM

Dave Tuley: Alabama-Notre Dame matchup could be most-bet college game ever


LAS VEGAS – As expected Alabama beat Georgia in the SEC title game last Saturday (though it wasn’t as easy as many expected and wasn’t decided until the final gun with the Bulldogs five yards short as Bama held on for a 32-28 victory).

And also as expected, despite Notre Dame being undefeated and ranked No. 1, Alabama was posted as a favorite to win the BCS title game on Monday, Jan. 7, in Miami. As stated in last week’s column, Alabama was around a 9.5- to 10-point favorite in advance lines. After the Crimson Tide’s victory, they were re-opened at anywhere between a 7.5- and 10.5-point favorite. After the early bettors had pounded the outlying numbers, it had settled right in the middle at Alabama –9 as of Thursday morning here in Vegas with some offshore books keeping it a little higher at 9.5 or 10. The consensus money line on the straight-up result of the game has Alabama –330 (risk $330 to win $100) with Notre Dame at +270 (win $270 for every $100 risked). If you convert that to a no-vig line of 300, that gives Alabama a 75 percent chance of winning to Notre Dame’s 25 percent.

This game is certainly causing a big difference of opinion, even without taking the point spread into account. Jimmy Vaccaro, longtime Vegas bookmaker and currently the director of public relations for William Hill’s U.S. operations in Nevada (the British bookmaking company completed its purchase of the Leroy’s, Lucky’s and Cal Neva books over the summer and combined them in time for the football season) says that’s good for business as he predicts the Alabama-Notre Dame matchup will be the most-bet college game of all time.

Or at least until the next game of the century.

William Hill, which completed its College Pick-em handicapping contest a few weeks ago with John Yurik winning the $10,000 first-place prize, also is running a $10,000 20/20 College Bowl Challenge for Las Vegas locals or anyone visiting town before the Dec. 29 deadline.

It costs $20 per entry and contestants pick 20 games against the spread from the 35-game bowl schedule. Plays are due by the kickoff of the first game used on the contest card, so you can use any of the games starting with the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15, and can enter anytime up until the 12:15  p.m. Pacific kickoff on Dec. 29 of the Pinstripe Bowl, which is when there are 20 bowls left to be played.

There is a guaranteed $10,000 first-place prize for the person compiling the best record. If there are more than 500 entries (which would meet the guarantee), 100 percent of additional entries will go to the prize pool.

In addition, if someone goes 20-0, they’ll win a $50,000 bonus. If multiple people have a perfect card, they’ll split the money equally.

Back to the NFL betting board

I went 2-1 last week with the Rams not only covering the 7-point spread against the 49ers but beating them outright in overtime and the Eagles getting in the back door against the Cowboys on Sunday night (though they were winning in the fourth quarter and it took a fumble return for a touchdown to put the Cowboys over the 10-point spread in the first place). My loss was on the Buccaneers +7, though hopefully some got the +8 that was available on Sunday as the Broncos beat them 31-23. Hopefully, I’m back on the winning track for the stretch run as we’re at the quarter pole with every team having four games remaining on the 16-game schedule.

Eagles +7.5 vs. Buccaneers

This is a game between the team with the best spread record with the Buccaneers at 8-2-2 (counting that 8-point loss to the Broncos as a push as the consensus closing line in Vegas was Broncos –8) against the team with the worst spread record with the Eagles at 2-9-1. But this is where we see the maximum value in the adjustments made in the power ratings between the two teams (before the season, the Eagles were a 5.5-point favorite in advance line at Cantor Gaming), so that’s why we’re getting more than a touchdown here, even though the Eagles have played better the past two weeks while the Bucs aren’t as good as they were earlier in the year.

PLAY: Eagles for 1 unit.

Dolphins +10 vs. 49ers

Here’s another spread that I feel is inflated. Yes, the 49ers are among the best teams in the league, but if the Dolphins lost by just 7 against the Patriots, there’s no reason to think they can’t stay within a touchdown of the 49ers, too. Besides, if you want to look at common opponents, earlier this year the Dolphins beat the Rams, who beat the 49ers last week and also played them to a tie last month. The Dolphins also beat the Seahawks, who also covered in a seven-point loss at San Francisco.

PLAY: Dolphins for 1 unit.

Cardinals +10 vs. Seahawks

This one is a little tougher to like, even though the Cardinals won the season-opener between these two teams. The Cardinals have lost eight straight games since their 4-0 start, but they have covered two of their last three. The Seahawks are 5-0 straight up and against the spread at home, though the most they’ve had to cover was 5 points against the Jets. I do like the Cardinals returning to John Skelton as I think he gives them a better chance than Ryan Lindley and might actually make Larry Fitzgerald relevant again.

PLAY: Cardinals for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-1 for a net profit of 0.9 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 20-17 for a net profit of 1.3 units.