11/21/2013 3:26PM

Dave Tuley: Alabama odds-on favorite to win college football championship


LAS VEGAS – We’re three weeks away from Bowl Championship Series Selection Sunday, and the discussion is really heating up.

Alabama and Florida State are 1-2 in the polls (and, most importantly, in the BCS rankings that determine who plays in the title game Jan. 6 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.) and are presumed to meet as long as they both run the table.

The LVH has Alabama, the two-time defending champion, as a 4-5 favorite to win the title, with Florida State at 8-5. Of course, any bettor looking to back Florida State has to be keeping a close eye on the developing story involving the sexual-assault allegation against Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston.

Even though Ohio State is at No. 3 in the BCS standings, with Baylor at No. 4, most experts say the Bears will pass the Buckeyes on strength of schedule (again, assuming they run the table), and the LVH’s odds mirror that, as Baylor is the third betting choice at 7-2, with Ohio State at 10-1.

As far as odds on the potential BCS matchups, the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas has Alabama favored by five points over Florida State (that’s down from 5.5 last week). Alabama is favored by 8.5 points against Baylor and 10.5 against Ohio State. Note: All bets are refunded for the matchups that don’t come to fruition.

If Alabama were to lose (and not get back into the title game as a one-loss team, which isn’t out of the question), the Golden Nugget has Florida State at -4.5 against Baylor and -6.5 against Ohio State. If Florida State also stumbles, Baylor is -4 against Ohio State.

Another big winner

In our previous column, we featured Caesar Espinosa (aka SammyTSquid) winning $10,000 in the William Hill College Pick’em handicapping contest. Well, there was an even bigger winner at William Hill in the NFL last week.

Bob Martini of Reno, Nev., won $109,290 at the Club Cal Neva on the Pro Football Progressive card.

Now, this technically is not a contest, as most NFL pick’em contests in Nevada have an up-front entry fee, and then you play the whole season. This is more like a parlay card (but picking straight-up winners like a normal contest similar to William Hill’s own Pro Pick’em contest and those at the Stations, Boyd Gaming, Palms, and Aliante). But instead of having weekly prizes, the Pro Progressive requires a perfect 15-0 card (with over/unders to fill in the difference during the NFL bye weeks) to collect the jackpot.

Martini, who celebrated his 71st birthday by picking up his winnings Tuesday, was the lone entrant out of 8,717 cards last weekend to go 15-0. The last time the Pro Progressive got more than $100,000 was in Week 8, when it was very chalky and 37 tickets went 15-0 and won about $2,900 apiece.

“I didn’t know I had the only live ticket heading into Monday night,” Martini said, “and that was probably a good thing because I probably would have laid some money going the other way. I still did sweat some.”

He sure did. For those who forget, the Panthers were trailing late, took a 24-20 lead, and had to hold off the Patriots’ final drive, which included a controversial flag on the final play of the game that was picked up by the officials, or the Pats would have had one more untimed down at the Carolina 1-yard line.

“I think the referee did the right thing,” Martini said with a laugh.

The Pro Progressive will be at $34,870 this weekend at all the William Hill locations in Nevada and on its mobile wagering app. A separate (and smaller) College Football Progressive card also is available and has a jackpot of $31,360 in its final week. There isn’t a mandatory payout, and if it’s not hit, the rollover money will either be added to the Pro Progressive next week or an upcoming basketball progressive card, according to William Hill’s marketing manager, Ryan Greene.

Back to the betting board

Last week, I again won with my NCAA pick on Houston +16 against Louisville, as Houston lost 20-13, but I lost on the Packers +5.5, as Green Bay fell to the New York Giants 27-13.

Michigan +6 vs. Iowa

Michigan isn’t as good as in recent years but is still 7-3 and traveling to 6-4 Iowa, and I don’t see how Michigan is this big of an underdog. In looking at statistics and common opponents, these teams are as even as can be. Iowa has a slightly better defense, but the only time since September that Iowa has outgained an opponent was last week against cellar-dweller Purdue. I think this should be around pick ‘em, and I’ll gladly take the bonus points.

Play : Michigan for 1 unit.

Chargers +5 vs. Chiefs

The Chiefs had their nine-game winning streak snapped last week and are in a spot that handicapper Marc Lawrence calls a “bubble burst,” and we call it an “anti-swagger” position in our ViewFromVegas.com forums. That’s when an undefeated team has its winning streak snapped (having some swagger knocked out of it), and there tends to be a hangover effect the next game. The Chiefs also have the mother of all sandwich games between their two games against the rival Broncos. I think the Chargers, who step up against better competition, keep it close the whole game, and it wouldn’t be a shocker if they pull the upset.

Play: Chargers for 1 unit.

NCAA record: 6-5 for net profit of 0.5 units (based on risking 1.1 to win 1). NFL record: 7-12 for a net loss of 6.2 units.