12/12/2013 3:02PM

Dave Tuley: Florida State opens as solid favorite in BCS title game


LAS VEGAS – And then there were two.

Florida State will meet Auburn on Jan. 6 in the last BCS title game before major college football goes to a four-team playoff system next season.

Last Saturday afternoon, Auburn ran over Missouri 59-42 in the SEC title game and then had to wait for the top two teams in the country to play. No. 1 Florida State blew out Duke 45-7 in the ACC championship game to remain undefeated and claim a spot in the title game, and then No. 2 Ohio State was upset by Michigan State, 34-24, to remove all debate about whether a one-loss SEC team should get the nod over Ohio State if it was the undefeated champion of the Big 10.

So, in its last year, the BCS doesn’t have a controversy, though many do argue that Alabama is still the best team in the country, as its only loss came on the road in the last second on a fluke play (and Vegas oddsmakers agree, as the Tide is the only team that would be favored over Florida State).

But as much as the system next year is supposed to let the top teams battle it out on the field, there’s sure to be controversy. For instance, if there was a playoff this year, Florida State and Auburn obviously would be in it, but would the selection committee take Alabama or go for conference champions Michigan State, Baylor, or Stanford?

But in the end, as we always say here in Vegas, there can be all the debate in the world about what should be the matchups, but you can only handicap the games they put in front of you.

The books here and offshore didn’t waste any time last Saturday night putting up lines on the BCS title game between Florida State and Auburn. FSU opened as low as a 6.5-point favorite offshore and quickly got bet up to 10 before enough Auburn money came in to send it back down.

The money line on the outright winner was posted around –300 (odds of 1-3, or risk $3 for every $1 you want to profit) on Florida State, with around +250 (odds of 5-2) on Auburn to pull the upset.

The LVH SuperBook, which sold some small tickets out there on Auburn at 1,000-1 and had a $500 bet at 200-1 (payoff of $100,500), has had the lowest money line on Florida State all week at –270 and now up to –275 in order to offset its liability on an Auburn victory. Of course, a lot of that has been offset already by all the bets on the other teams on the betting board over the course of the year.

In the other BCS bowls: Stanford is a 4-point favorite over Michigan State in the Rose Bowl, Baylor is a 16.5-point favorite (the biggest of any bowl) over Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl; Alabama is –15 vs. Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, and Ohio State is –2.5 vs. Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

Back to the (NFL) betting board

Last week, I lost with Missouri in the SEC title game against Auburn and on the Titans +12.5 at the Broncos. Both games looked competitive early, but then both of my teams got run over late. I don’t have a play on the Army-Navy game (it’s a good game to watch for national pride), so let’s look at two NFL games Sunday.

Vikings +5 vs. Eagles

Yes, the Eagles are on a roll since Nick Foles took over, but the Vikings haven’t thrown in the towel yet and have been competitive, covering in four of their last five games. Adrian Peterson is expected to miss this game, but I was kind of hoping they’d announce that sooner, as I think the line would steam even higher. Every time Toby Gerhart subs for Peterson, he does just fine, and even though he’s nursing a hamstring injury, I’m confident that Matt Asiata (second-year back out of Utah) or anyone else would have success running the ball as well. The Vikings took the Ravens to the wire on the road, and I don’t see why they can’t do the same against the Eagles.

PLAY: Vikings for 1 unit.

Jets +11 vs. Panthers

I would say this is mostly a pick against the Panthers, who are having a great season but are in a big letdown spot after losing the division lead to the Saints and having their eight-game winning streak snapped. In addition to that, as inconsistent as the Jets have been this season, they’ve stepped up as double-digit underdogs, as they’re 2-0 against the spread with an outright upset of the Falcons and also covering in their Week 2 loss to the Patriots. I just need them to keep it close like that 13-10 loss, which is what the Panthers could be content to do as they just want to get out with a victory by any margin.

PLAY: Jets for 1 unit.

NCAA record: 7-7 for net loss of 0.7 units (based on risking 1.1 to win 1). NFL record: 9-13 for a net loss of 5.3 units.