The Nick Saban era at Alabama is the greatest college football dynasty in at least the last 40 years. Why? Look no further than the betting market.
The Crimson Tide have been favored in 60 consecutive games, including Saturday at Arkansas (6 p.m. ET, ESPN). It's the longest such streak in the modern era, according to ESPN college football insider Phil Steele's database, which goes back to 1976.
Alabama's run of being favored dates back to the 2009 SEC championship game against Florida, when the Crimson Tide were 5.5-point underdogs to Tim Tebow and the Gators. Alabama won 32-13, moved to the top of most power rankings, and sat there for three years before being caught by Florida State last season. Even then, there was debate over which team would have been favored if Florida State and Alabama had met in the national championship game.
During their 60-game run, the Crimson Tide have been favored by double digits 45 times. They've been favored by less than seven points only seven times.
"Since I've been in the business for 28 years, Alabama, by far, has been the biggest college football dynasty," said John Avello, executive director of the Wynn Race and Sports Book.
The gap has narrowed, though.
Alabama's loss to Ole Miss last week didn't do much damage to Bama's respect from Vegas. Avello said it's extremely close, but he'd probably have Alabama favored over Florida State on a neutral field. Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill's sports book, agreed.
"Of all teams on a neutral field, I'd take Alabama before anyone," Bogdanovich said. "It's real close, now, though. There's a bunch of teams that are stacked very close to each other. It's a very wide-open year."
Undefeated Auburn is in that top tier of contenders and, depending how things play out, could be the first team to be favored over Alabama since 2009. The two archrivals meet Nov. 29 in the Iron Bowl.
In mid-July, the Westgate SuperBook opened Alabama as a 7.5-point favorite over Auburn. That line has shrunk to Alabama minus-4.5 as of this week. A couple more impressive performances by Auburn and another slipup or two from Alabama could have the Crimson Tide in the underdog role come late November.
Bettors certainly aren't losing interest in Alabama, though. The Crimson Tide's game at Arkansas has attracted more early action than any other game at William Hill.
"We've had good two-way action on that game," Bogdanovich said. "We went as high as [Alabama] minus-11 and as low as minus-9."
The line was sitting at Alabama minus-9 at most shops as of Thursday afternoon.
The Crimson Tide are 3-10 against the spread after a straight-up loss under Saban.
'Professionals really like TCU'
For the first time in a long time, people are betting against Baylor.
The Bears opened as high as 11.5-point home favorites against TCU on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2). But early action on the Horned Frogs drove the number down to Baylor minus-7.5 as of Thursday. Golden Nugget sportsbook oddsmaker Aaron Kessler said he wouldn't be surprised to see the line dip under 7 before kickoff.
"I completely misfired on TCU," Kessler said. "I did not have them being very good, and we've been getting our butts kicked on them."
William Hill's book said it took an influx of early action on the Horned Frogs, who were impressive in their upset of Oklahoma last week.
"The professionals really like TCU," Bogdanovich said. "We're hoping to get some buyback from the public later in the week."
Avello also is expecting some later Baylor money to show up at the Wynn.
"Every week, at least at the Wynn for the past couple years, Baylor attracts more money than any other team," Avello said.
'A big liability'
Ole Miss is a scary team for the Wynn sports book. The Rebels were 250-1 to win the national championship during the offseason at the Wynn. Bettors pounced with an accumulation of wagers -- some in the three- and four-figure range -- and Avello is wary.
"They're a big liability for us," Avello said. "People had good insight on them."
At the Wynn, the Rebels are currently 16-1 to win the national championship.
Vegas reacts to Gurley news
Georgia announced Thursday that star running back Todd Gurley is suspended indefinitely pending an investigation into an alleged violation of NCAA rules. Before the news, No. 13 Georgia was a 3-point road favorite in its Saturday game at No. 23 Missouri (12 p.m., ESPN). William Hill's Bogdanovich said his shop was dropping the line one point, making the Bulldogs 2-point favorites. But most sports books immediately took the game off the board.
Gurley leads the SEC in rushing (773 yards) and was a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. The Bulldogs were already without two tailbacks in Keith Marshall and Sony Michel. Freshman Nick Chubb is second on the team in rushing with 224 yards.