The betting line for the College Football Playoff Championship has barely moved as the Oregon Ducks stand as 6.5-point favorites over the Ohio State Buckeyes for Monday’s title game at AT&T Stadium.
The line moved only slightly, opening at seven points in favor of the Ducks and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. Oregon is coming off a 59-20 blowout victory over Florida State in the CFP semifinals, while the Buckeyes overcame top ranked Alabama 42-35 in the other semifinal. Prior to the start of the semifinals, ESPN's Power Index had Oregon as 35.4 percent favorites to win the title, followed by Alabama at 32.1 percent, Ohio State at 18.8 percent and Florida State at 13.7.
With five days left until the game, the line could move more, but right now the incremental nudge means bettors are largely taking the Ducks. According to picks tabulated by Covers.com, nearly 60 percent of gamblers are taking Oregon.
Despite the current point spread and based on each side's results this season, bettors might still be torn between the Ducks and the Buckeyes. Oregon held a 10-4 overall record against the spread this season, while Ohio State was back by only one game at 9-5.
The Ducks were eight-point favorites over Florida State, and blew that number away by racking up 639 total offensive yards and by forcing five turnovers. Top regular-season rusher Royce Freeman gained only 44 rushing yards but remained hugely effective with two touchdown runs. Mariota also received a huge boost from sophomore running back Thomas Tyner. With the Ducks up by 25 by the end of the third quarter, Tyner allowed Freeman to rest up to finish with 124 rushing yards and two more scores.
Betting the over/under could also prove tricky. The point total is set at 75, according to VegasInsider.com, and each side is capable of putting up video-game-like offensive numbers. Behind Mariota, the Ducks own the second-highest-scoring offense in the country with 47.2 points per game, while the Buckeyes are fifth in the nation with 45 points.
However, bettors probably have more faith in Mariota, who’s thrown 40 touchdowns and rushed for another 15 scores, compared to Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones. Completing 18-of-35 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown, Jones made only the second start of his college career against Alabama. Still, upending Alabama’s No. 6-ranked defense could be a huge boost to Jones’s confidence and with the sophomore starting at quarterback, the Buckeyes have scored an astounding 101 total points.
Head coach Urban Meyer won't be relying on just Jones. Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott gained 230 yards for two touchdowns and clinched the win with an 85-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against Alabama.
The Buckeyes opened as 10-point underdogs to the Tide in the Sugar Bowl, but Las Vegas sportsbooks had dropped the spread to as low as 7.5 points by kickoff time.