A rush of money began showing up on the Clemson Tigers late last week at Las Vegas sportsbooks and hasn't slowed down yet.
In fact, out of the first $11,020 bet at the Westgate SuperBook on the money-line for the College Football Playoff National Championship between Clemson and Alabama, $11,000 of it was on the underdog Tigers.
"Twenty bucks on Alabama," Ed Salmons, SuperBook assistant manager, said Sunday night.
Alabama is around a -240 favorite to win straight up, with the Tigers listed as 2-1 underdogs to pull the upset in the Jan. 9 title game (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The Crimson Tide are 6.5-point favorites, down slightly from the consensus opening line of Alabama -7 and significantly less than what some sportsbooks had projected the point spread would be before Saturday's semifinal games. The South Point sportsbook was offering Alabama -11 against Clemson before this weekend's action.
The Tigers drubbed the Ohio State Buckeyes 31-0, and crushed sportsbooks in the process. So much money poured in on Clemson in the hours leading up to its semifinal showdown with Ohio State that the Tigers went from 2.5-point underdogs to 1-point favorites at the SuperBook.
"We got crushed, just crushed," Salmons said. "Every bet we wrote yesterday was Alabama and Clemson. Every bet, every parlay ... Alabama and Clemson."
"It was a bloodbath," MGM vice president of race and sports Jay Rood added. "No good."
Alabama advanced to its second straight championship game with a 24-7 win against the Washington Huskies on Saturday in the other College Football Playoff semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
The Huskies were as much as 17-point underdogs in the weeks leading up to the Peach Bowl and drew heavy support from sophisticated bettors, driving the line down to Alabama -13.5 by kickoff. On Thursday, the MGM had taken twice as much money on Washington as it had taken on the Crimson Tide.
But the betting public that showed up en masse during the New Year's weekend in Las Vegas sided with the Crimson Tide, overwhelming the money that the books accepted from professional players and handing the house a loss.
"We ended up with twice as much money written to Bama as we did Washington," Rood said.
The two semifinals generated massive betting interest. Well over $1 million was bet on each game at just MGM's sportsbooks. At William Hill's Nevada sportsbook, Clemson-Ohio State and Washington-Alabama each attracted more than three times as much money as was bet on the Michigan-Ohio State game from November.
"We took many, many six-figure bets on both games and each of the teams," Johnny Avello, executive director of the Wynn race and sportsbook, said Sunday.
Bowl betting odds and ends
-- After jumping out to a 24-0 halftime lead, Arkansas was listed as a -1,400 favorite to beat Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl at William Hill. At one point during the game, with the Razorbacks leading comfortably, a bettor put $1,100 on Arkansas at -1,100 odds in an attempt to net $100. Virginia Tech stormed back and won 35-24, much to the delight of a bettor, who took a $490 stab on the Hokies during the game at +850 odds. The bet netted $4,165.
--Through Saturday's games, bowl underdogs were 24-12 against the spread.