Early bettors take 'Bama over Texas in title game

Dec 8, 2009 - 12:14 AM By OSKAR GARCIA Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS(AP) -- Early bettors are siding with No. 1 Alabama in the BCS national championship game, driving up point spreads across Las Vegas casinos, oddsmakers said Monday.

Sports books expect gamblers to think highly of the 4-point favorite Crimson Tide after they cruised in the Southeastern Conference championship game against defending national champion Florida, said Mike Seba of Las Vegas Sports Consultants.

Alabama (13-0) faces No. 2 Texas in the title game Jan. 7.

Texas (13-0) beat Nebraska 13-12 in the Big 12 championship, but struggled.

"You have to readjust your ratings and then you also have to think, everybody just saw what we saw and who would you go bet on right now?" said Seba, whose firm provides betting lines to roughly 90 percent of casinos in Nevada. "Obviously, you'd bet Alabama."

The Las Vegas Hilton opened its bets Sunday by spotting Texas fans 3.5 points, but Alabama bettors pushed the Crimson Tide to a 5.5-point favorite there, said Race and Sports Book Executive Director Jay Kornegay.

"If we were to set a line on this game prior to those (conference) championship games, Texas would have been a slight favorite," Kornegay said. "Most bettors have a very short-term memory."

Gamblers siding with Alabama at MGM Mirage casinos and the Wynn Las Vegas also raised their spreads to 5.5 points, officials from each of the casinos said.

Johnny Avello, race and sports book director at Wynn Las Vegas, said the early Alabama bettors are likely tourists who won't be around during the game or gamblers who think Alabama should be favored by more points.

Avello said he expects the spread to swing as high as 6.5 points or as low as 4 points, depending on what happens during the next month.

"Good practices, any suspensions, guys getting hurt during practice, momentum shifts," Avello said. "Alabama has all the momentum going into this Saturday, but we're not playing Saturday."

Jay Rood, race and sports book director for MGM Mirage, said the break will give Texas enough time to study its performance against Nebraska and fix whatever problems it may have.

"There's a whole lot of things that can happen, that can go awry or correct itself," he said.

Rood said Alabama opened the season at 20-1 odds to win the national title, but bettors didn't flock to them early. Texas, meanwhile, had 10-1 odds on winning the national championship at the start of the season, he said.

"Alabama was kind of overlooked," Rood said.

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