The Nos. 1 and 2 college football teams in the country, Alabama and Ohio State, both face the same challenge this week: covering a double-digit point spread on the road against a top-10 conference foe.
As of Friday morning, Alabama is a 12.5-point favorite for its visit to Tennessee. Ohio State is -10.5 at Wisconsin.
Here’s a closer look at the two games:
Alabama (-12.5, 57) at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
This game opened ‘Bama -10, but bettors laid the number early and pushed it up the ladder in no time.
The double-digit favorite role is the Tide’s most typical. They’ve laid 10 points or more in all six of their games this season, going 4-2 against the spread along the way. Saturday is the third time, in fact, they’ve been double-digit road chalk in the SEC this season. Last week, they rolled past Arkansas, 49-30 as 14.5-point faves, but earlier this season they failed to get the money in a 48-43 win when laying 10 at Ole Miss.
Tennessee, meanwhile, continued its resilient ways at Texas A&M last week. The Vols may have lost the game in overtime, 45-38, but they bounced back from a 21-point third-quarter deficit to cash tickets for bettors. They keep getting into holes and digging themselves out. They’ll probably want to try a different strategy against ‘Bama.
Coach Butch Jones is 4-2 ATS when getting points at home since arriving in Knoxville in 2013, including covering +19.5 in a 34-20 loss to Alabama two years ago.
In last season’s meeting in Tuscaloosa, the Vols (+14.5) kept it close and got the money in a 19-14 loss.
That game stayed ‘under’ the total; the previous three in this series and four of the last five went ‘over’. Saturday’s total, though, is the highest this series has ever seen, a fact sure to get the attention of ‘under’ bettors.
Ohio State (-11, 44) at Wisconsin, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
This Big Ten battle also opened with the road team laying 10 points, but unlike the SEC game above, the line stayed relatively close to it was originally hung and has seen a good amount of two-way action in early wagering.
While the Buckeyes are unbeaten and the Badgers have one loss on the season (at Michigan), both Ohio State and Wiscy boast stout 4-1 ATS marks.
While Ohio State’s best win so far this season is at Oklahoma, they’ve yet to be tested in the Big Ten. Saturday’s visit to Madison could be that first test. In the most recent meeting between these teams, the Buckeyes delivered a 59-0 whitewashing of the Badgers in the 2014 conference title game.
While this series hasn’t seen a spread this big since Ohio State was -14.5 in 2009, this version of the Buckeyes look like a special group. Then again, plenty of handicappers are wondering why the betting market continues to underrate the Badgers.