If Alabama were to play Ohio State, Danny Sheridan tweeted, the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide would be a seven-point favorite.
But how can a team that has outscored opponents 56-16 this season be only a touchdown favorite?
“I think a fair betting line if they were playing this Saturday is 7,” Sheridan said Tuesday. “I put that on Twitter and Alabama fans, college football fans all told me that ‘you are crazy as hell. I’d like to bet my house on it. It ought to be 14 or 21.’ Let me say this, with all due respect, they are out of their mind.”
Ala -7 if this Saturday on a neutral site. https://t.co/oHtLM6AROy
— Danny Sheridan (@DannySheridan1) October 8, 2018
“The betting line does a couple of things,” said Sheridan, who explained lines are not a prediction. “It is the betting public’s perception of how two teams match up. It is designed to do only one thing: Equal betting on both sides of a sporting event.”
The betting line, in Alabama’s case for instance, is adjusted weekly.
“Alabama beats Louisville 30-20, then they make an adjustment,” Sheridan said. “If they beat the hell out of them 45-0, they make an adjustment.
“In other words, playing (Alabama quarterback) Tua (Tagovailoa) only a half or three quarters (is accounted for,)” he said. “It’s not that he is so good. It’s that the opposition is lousy, and Alabama is superior – so far.”
This season, Sheridan said, Alabama beat the betting line the first three weeks, only to lose against the next three. Mostly, because the lines had adjusted after previous Alabama games.
So, back to the Alabama-Ohio State line of 7.
“Some might argue it would be 10,” Sheridan said of the spread. “As a handicapper, if I could take Ohio State, Clemson or any good team with more than a touchdown against Alabama or any college team today, I would take them. And, of course, the college team today is Alabama.
“There is a reason they are the favorite, and it has nothing to do with talent. It goes back to public perception.
“The perception is Ohio State’s not bad. They can score on Alabama. Alabama’s defense – their secondary – hasn’t been tested. I look for (Missouri’s) Drew Lock to burn their secondary this weekend. But, Missouri has no defense.”
Sheridan looks to teams like LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State – all with good defenses and capable quarterbacks – to give Nick Saban’s club a run.
“Like Drew Lock this weekend, they have the potential to upset Alabama,” he said. “They have the potential to burn the Alabama secondary.”
Speaking of Auburn, the Tigers have struggled to find their offensive rhythm of late. That has put coach Gus Malzahn on the hot seat.
“I would say his future in the next two years – of course not knowing the results of Georgia and Alabama game – I’d say his future is even money. I would say he is a considerable underdog to not complete his seven-year contract that he signed in December.”
In December, Malzahn and Auburn agreed to a seven-year, $49 million extension. Malzahn’s previous contract at Auburn was for $4.725 million annually through 2020.
“It’s mediocrity at Auburn over the last four years,” Sheridan said. “It looks like they are going to lose three or four more games this year.
“The only person who would give a coach like that, with a mediocre record, is a president. A president has no business giving a contract to him. His agent, Jimmy Sexton, should be in the hall of fame for that contract.
“No president that I know of should ever make that decision because it isn’t his territory. Only a neophyte, an ignorant – ignorant being ignorant of the facts – president would make a deal like that. He isn’t stupid, just ignorant of athletics. He should be able to approve everything, but not make the deal.
In six years at Auburn, Malzahn has compiled a 49-24 record. The Tigers are currently 4-2, and have 10, 8, 7, and 8 wins in the past four years.
With that said, Sheridan believes Auburn can beat both Alabama and Georgia.
“I think they are very capable of giving Alabama a run for the money because they have nothing to lose,” he said. “And, Alabama could probably afford a loss and still go to the SEC Championship Game.”
Sheridan said he would install Alabama as a double-digit favorite over Auburn “based on the betting public’s perception.”
“With Georgia, in the preseason, I had Auburn as a three-point underdog. I’d say right now 4, 5 maybe 6 points.
“I do think they have a great shot of upsetting Georgia in Athens and decent shot of beating Alabama. Not because they are better, but it is very possible Auburn rolls in with nothing to lose. Alabama goes in and loses but will stay make the SEC Championship Game.”
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.