| FTBL Betting lines released for Alabama's 7 biggest games


One of only five teams in college football favored in every game this fall, defending SEC champion Alabama has already honed in on why everything came crashing to a halt in January's national title game.

According to Nick Saban, his team lost its Alabama mystique and has been work feverishly to get it back this offseason.

“I don’t think anybody feels well about how we ended,” Saban said earlier this year. "It’s not just that we lost. We didn’t play very well. And we didn’t play very well in some of the games that we won. People are realizing that if we really want to do this the right way and the way it’s been done for a long time, we’ve got to change. We’ve got to buy in and do things the Bama way.”

Facing one of its more favorable schedules during Saban's tenure, the Crimson Tide are overwhelming favorites to get back to the Playoff for a sixth consecutive season and have Heisman frontrunner Tua Tagovailoa leading the charge on what should be one of the nation's most potent offenses.

Several Vegas-based sportsbook released 'Game of the Year' odds this week, an early look at betting lines across college football's most interesting contests. Here are seven notable opening lines from Golden Nugget involving Alabama this season:

The Crimson Tide's first true road game of the season and their SEC opener, Alabama hasn't played South Carolina since 2010 when the Gamecocks snapped the nation's longest winning streak on a memorable afternoon in Columbia, upsetting college football's top-ranked team and defending national champion. South Carolina captured its only SEC East title in program history that fall despite losing to Kentucky the following week. But that loss for Alabama came against one of the Gamecocks' most talented teams of the decade when Steve Spurrier was hitting his stride. The scenario is much different this fall for Alabama battling a squad facing the nation's toughest schedule and personnel concerns entering Will Muschamp's fourth season.

It has not been pretty for Ole Miss coach Matt Luke vs. Alabama. The Rebels are 0-2 and have been outscored 128-10 since he took over following Hugh Freeze's resignation ahead of the 2017 season. Freeze found ways to score in the series and beat the Crimson Tide twice over his final three seasons, but recent matchups have been laughers in a lopsided series. Part of the reason for this is the Rebels' defense, which has ranked at the bottom of the SEC each of the past two years. Luke is hoping Ole Miss improves on that side of the football this fall.

According to oddsmakers, this will be Alabama's second toughest game of the 2019 season, a road trip to College Station with both teams coming off an open week in mid-October. Texas A&M is one of only two teams nationally that will play Clemson, Alabama and Georgia this fall and that may not bode well for a program replacing the SEC's leading rusher and one of the league's top tight ends. The Aggies were ahead of schedule during Jimbo Fisher's first campaign and will try and continue that momentum at home against the Crimson Tide as Texas A&M aims at taking the next step toward an SEC West crown. The Aggies covered twice as home underdogs last season including an outright win over LSU in that seven-overtime marathon.

The line for these Alabama-Tennessee games tends to swell at the outset, but oddsmakers do expect the Vols to be a much-improved team this season with the over-under win total set at seven. A trip to the postseason would be a step in the right direction in Year 2 for coach Jeremy Pruitt, who is building his program the right way through recruiting and a hard-nosed philosophy. Sounds familiar, doesn't? Tennessee should've made a bowl game last fall, but stubbed its toe late and couldn't overcome season-long issues up front. Fixing offensive line inconsistencies is priority No. 1 in 2019 and could lead to bigger and better things for the Vols.

Alabama has won 12 consecutive games in this series and since 2010, seven of those victories have come by at least 30 points. Giveaways and falling behind early are two factors that have damaged Tennessee's chances in this series and Alabama has feasted as a result. Last season, College GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit opined that Tennessee would be the Crimson Tide's "toughest test yet" before Tagovailoa and the Vols waltzed into Knoxville and left with a 58-21 blitzkrieg win. Big plays were plentiful and the Tennessee secondary was caught out of position often by Alabama's wealth of talent at the wideout spot. To keep this game within the number this fall, Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano must play turnover-free and lead multiple scoring drives.

Can the Tigers score? That'll be the primary question LSU bettors are asking themselves as this game gets closer to kickoff after laying an egg last season Baton Rouge. Alabama has won eight straight in the series and LSU hasn't scored more than two touchdowns in any of those contests. The passing game has been non-existent and Saban's decision to play everything close to the vest has often led to the Crimson Tide pulling away shortly after intermission. In last season's 29-0 affair, Alabama dominated in front of a sellout, prime-time crowd at Tiger Stadium, one of the toughest settings in college football.

With a relatively weak home schedule this season outside of this game and the rivalry bout with the Vols, this is one of those games Crimson Tide fans pay attention to but won't necessarily worry about. In fact, CBS Sports took the same angle, choosing for the first time in years not to put Alabama-LSU in the evening time slot in November. Instead, this will likely be a mid-afternoon battle between nationally-ranked teams. The line for this rivalry always seems to hover around 16 or 17 points by kickoff and that won't change this season, even if the Tigers come into Tuscaloosa near the top of the West.

Mississippi State's window to beat Alabama may have closed last season when the most talented team the Bulldogs have fielded in years lost the battle up front during a 24-0 loss. The opposition did get after Tua Tagovailoa quite a bit in Tuscaloosa, but Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons must be replaced along with several other stalwarts on that side of the football. Last time these two met in Starkville, it took late-game heroics from Jalen Hurts to Calvin Ridley to pull Alabama through with a 31-24 victory. The Bulldog haven't beaten the Crimson Tide since 2007 and only two games during that stretch have been decided by a single possession.

Auburn has won two of the past three meetings at Jordan-Hare against its arch rival, including the memorable 2013 finish that ultimately kept Alabama out national championship contention and pushed the Tigers into the SEC Championship and beyond. Based on early betting lines, this year's Iron Bowl is the Crimson Tide's toughest game on the schedule, much of that having to do with it coming on the road against a team likely playing with its collective backs against the wall down the stretch. Alabama won't play a more physical defensive front or rushing attack with as many quality ballcarriers during the regular season.

In what could be Gus Malzahn's final Iron Bowl, you know this will be an emotionally-draining matchup for both teams. It always is. The Tigers played Alabama tough for a half last fall before Tagovailoa and the passing game torched an above-average defense after intermission. It led to immediate speculation on Malzahn's job security which has carried over to the offseason for a program that'll be ranked inside the Top 15 to begin the season. Oddsmakers seemed to have sold their stock on the Tigers in terms of contending for a conference title due to a challenging schedule and the difficulties that often come with playing a first-year starter at quarterback.

LAS VEGAS -- Point spreads on some of the biggest college football games of the upcoming season began popping up at sportsbooks this week -- including an early line on a potential national championship game rematch between Clemson and Alabama.

The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas has Clemson listed as a 2-point favorite over Alabama in what would be the third meeting in a national title game in the last four years between the Tigers and Crimson Tide. Clemson beat Alabama 44-16to win last season's title.


Aaron Kessler, senior oddsmaker at Golden Nugget, told ESPN that he'd have Alabama and Clemson favored by at least seven points against any other team in the nation. Georgia is third in Kessler's power ratings.

"They're definitely the best two teams out there," Kessler said of Alabama and Clemson. "It's just tough trying to figure out how much better they are than the rest of the field."
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