The point spread in Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T shrunk all last week, with influential money being placed on underdog Ohio State. But Oregon money showed up over the weekend.
The Ducks head into game day as a 6.5-point favorite over the Buckeyes at most Nevada sportsbooks, capping a 10-day stretch that saw the line move significantly in both directions.
The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Oregon opened as a 7-point favorite Jan. 2. Early last week, multiple sportsbooks reported taking bets on Ohio State plus-7 from what was a described as a "respected group," causing the line to move off the key number. The line continued to fall during the week and bottomed out at minus-5, after Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington was suspended for the game.
But the line headed back up over the weekend. The Westgate SuperBook, MGM, CG Technology and William Hill all were back to Oregon minus-6.5 on Sunday night. And some believe the line might get all they back to 7 on game day.
"I'm hearing rumors that someone else is on Oregon in this game," SuperBook head oddsmaker Ed Salmons said. "I'm not going to be surprised if this line doesn't push up to minus-7."
When asked, Salmons said that "someone" is a professional bettor but did not name names.
Despite the early action on Ohio State, multiple books reported Sunday having more money on Oregon.
As of Sunday night at the William Hill sportsbook, 78 percent of all bets and 72 percent of all money wagered was on the Ducks.
The MGM was also heavy on the Oregon side, with the Ducks attracting more money than the Buckeyes by about a 3-to-2 ratio as of Sunday night, according to vice president of race and sports Jay Rood.
"We've taken more limit bets on Ohio State," Rood said. "I'd definitely characterize Ohio State as the sharp side. If the money comes back on Oregon, like I think it might, we'll be back at 7."
The game is being bet much like a Super Bowl, the books said, with bettors laying the points with the favored Ducks and backing the underdog Buckeyes on the money line. The best-case scenario for the books is for Oregon to win but not cover the spread.
Oregon was around minus-210 on the money line Monday, meaning a bettor would have to wager $210 to win $100 on the Ducks winning straight-up. An Ohio State upset would pay around plus-185. Stratosphere sportsbook manager Hugh Citron said his shop had taken 15 bets on the Ohio State money line for every one on the Ducks.
An Oregon victory also would help the books in their futures market, the odds to win the national championship.
More bets were placed on Ohio State to win the national championship than any other team at the SuperBook. The Buckeyes opened at 12-1 to win the first College Football Playoff at the SuperBook but dropped down to 50-1 after quarterback Braxton Miller was ruled out for the season in August with an injury. Ohio State fell to 100-1 after a September loss to Virginia Tech at William Hill.
Caesars Entertainment's books also were rooting for Oregon for their futures book.
"We are just sweating the futures," said David Pemberton, sportsbook director for Caesars. "It's a big loss if Ohio State wins and a big win if Oregon wins."
The over/under total was sitting at 74.5, the highest ever for a national championship game. The over/under for Oregon's national championship appearance against Auburn in 2011 was also in the 70s.
"Right now, there's a notch more money on the under," Salmons said Sunday night. "But that will change tomorrow."
Twelve of Ohio State's 14 games have gone over the total.
This will be the third straight game the Buckeyes have been the underdog. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has been an underdog 23 times in his career. He has won 15 of those games straight-up. Meyer's teams are 34-9 against the spread with more than a week to prepare.
Oregon has covered the spread in nine straight games.