An 8-point spread in favor of Alabama and an over/under of 75.5 are the lines established by William Hill. After opening at -7 at numerous sportsbooks, the line had risen to 7-1/2 and 8 at the more than 20 different places we checked on Monday morning. The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com has the Tide by 6.95 points.
There is plenty of reason to think that the total could easily exceed the 75-1/2. Ohio State has the No. 4 offense vs. FBS teams while Alabama ranks 6th. Both average around 540 yards per game with the Buckeyes holding an edge of 10 yards per game. Alabama rates about 77 yards per game higher through the air while Ohio State outpaces the Tide on the ground by 87 yards per game.
Ohio State's pass defense, for the most part, has been nonexistant. The Buckeyes rank 12th-worst in the nation vs. FBS schools, allowing an average of 281 yards per contest.
In short, 'Bama's strength lies in the passing game and Ohio State's defensive weakness is stopping the pass. Alabama had 22 passing plays during the season that went for 50 yards or more for an average of 1.67 such plays per game. The Buckeyes will surely be tested on the backend.
But does Alabama stack up against Ohio State's strength of running the ball? The Buckeyes led all Power 5 schools with 273 yards per game with a season low of 203 against Rutgers and a high of 399 versus Northwestern in the Big Ten championship. The Tide's rushing defense was quite stout, allowing only 110 yards per game while ranking 9th vs. Power 5 programs.
These are two of the top six teams in the country at putting points on the board with Alabama averaging 48.2 to lead all Power 5 schools to rank 2nd, and Ohio State putting up 43.4 to rank 4th. The Tide allowed an average of 19 ppg and Ohio State surrendered 22 per game.
Thus, you can see the rather simplistic way that the oddsmakers arrived at an 8-point spread. 'Bama has the edge in scoring by 4.8 points per game, and the edge in scoring defense by 3 points per game. Add 'em up and you get 7.8. It ain't rocket science.
We actually think defense may have more of a say in this game than everyone is expecting, with a final score prediction of 35-27, Alabama.
Yep - exactly on the 8-point spread. Winner Vegas.