The Wolverines opened as 2-point favorites over the Crimson Tide on Sunday at ESPN BET. Michigan also was installed as the national championship favorite, at +175, followed closely by Alabama (+200). Texas and Washington, who will meet in the other semifinal at the Sugar Bowl, opened at +275 and +700, respectively.
If the point spread on the Rose Bowl holds with Michigan as the favorite, it would mark the first time in 77 games that the Crimson Tide would be an underdog vs. a non-SEC team (Clemson, 2008). The early line movement, though, was on Alabama, as the spread dipped to a consensus Michigan -1.5 on Sunday.
For a while Sunday morning, the betting market didn't think Alabama would even get in the field. At 9 a.m. ET Sunday, sportsbooks had Florida State as a strong favorite to make the College Football Playoff -- upwards of -480 at FanDuel and -450 at DraftKings -- with Alabama listed as a slight underdog. But over the next three hours, betting was heavy, and the odds shifted toward the Crimson Tide, as Alabama went from underdog to favorite to make the playoff.
A FanDuel trading team representative told ESPN in an email that the betting on the odds to make the playoff on Sunday morning was "crazy" and "outperformed expectations."
"Nine-five percent of bets were on FSU to miss, 87% of money was on FSU to miss," the FanDuel trader added.
Bettors were correct, as Alabama got the nod over Florida State, which is without its star starting quarterback, Jordan Travis. The consensus among oddsmakers contacted by ESPN was that the Crimson Tide would be a double-digit favorite over the Seminoles without Travis.
In the other semifinal, Texas opened as a 4-point favorite vs. Washington.