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Vegas books favor Alabama, Oklahoma to make CFP finale

The betting public is backing the underdog Michigan State Spartans, but the big money is rolling with the Alabama Crimson Tide heading into New Year's Eve in Las Vegas.

No. 2 Alabama is a 10-point favorite over No. 3 Michigan State on Thursday in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, the nightcap of the College Football Playoff doubleheader on ESPN.

The No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners are a 3½-point favorite over the No. 1 Clemson Tigers in the Capital One Orange Bowl semifinal.

"All the bigger bets have been on Alabama and Clemson," MGM vice president Jay Rood told ESPN on Wednesday afternoon.

Roughly 24 hours before the Cotton Bowl kickoff (8:30 p.m. ET), there had been four times more bets on Michigan State than on Alabama at sports book operator CG Technology.

Yet thanks to some "very smart money," twice as much money had been wagered on the Crimson Tide than on Sparty, according to CG Technology vice president Jason Simbal.

Alabama opened as a 9½-point favorite in early December. The line did not budge until Monday, when it ticked up to -10 across town.

"(We) took some very smart money on Alabama -9½, which is why it's up to 10," Simbal told ESPN.com.

At the Westgate SuperBook, 79 percent of the tickets were on Michigan State, but 54 percent of the money was on Alabama. The MGM sports book was in a similar situation. More bets were coming in on Michigan State, including plenty taking the Spartans to win straight-up at around 3-1 odds, but the bigger bets were on Alabama at the Wynn race and sports book.

Under coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide are 51-4 straight-up when favored by double digits, according to sports betting data site SportsInsights.com.

In the Orange Bowl, most books reported taking more overall bets on the favored Sooners, but the larger wagers were backing Clemson.

"We've taken a couple six-figure wagers (on Clemson)," Rood said. "Nothing massive. We'll probably get a few more of those before kickoff."

However, at William Hill's Nevada's book, the only six-figure bet it had accepted was on Oklahoma on the money line at -170.

The bookmakers at William Hill also are eyeing a large futures ticket on the Sooners. On Aug. 25, a bettor put $7,500 on Oklahoma to win the national championship at 40-1 odds. The bet would pay out $300,000.

About $10 million to $15 million is expected to be bet on the two College Football Playoff games combined at Nevada's 190 regulated sports books.

The majority of the betting action will be placed in the hours leading up to the Oklahoma-Clemson kickoff (4 p.m., ET), so things could change. But by Wednesday, the big money was on Alabama and Clemson.