The 2018 Orange Bowl pitted the No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide against the No. 2 Clemson Tigers for a national championship. ESPN, the sports TV channel, had the highest-watched television program ever with 19.3 million viewers.
The game was close at half time, but Alabama took control in the second half. At the end, the Tide defeated the Tigers 28–23 in one of the most exciting championships of all time. The final score was close, but the Tide emerged victorious as hot favorites to win their fourth championship in five seasons, matching the record set by the 1992, 1995, and 2017 championship teams.
Even though the game was close, the lines moved considerably in favor of Alabama. The over / under was set at 41.5 points, and the Tide opened as 3.5-point favorites.
Why Are Teams Generally Favorites In Bowl Games?
Teams are naturally favored in bowl games because they already played a game that day. It’s like getting a head start in your league or tournament. In the Orange Bowl, both teams were undefeated, which is another reason why the game attracted so many viewers.
When teams are evenly matched, as in many championship games this year, the lines become very close to even money. For example, in the 2018 NCAA division one men’s basketball championship, the spread was 48.5 points, and the over / under was set at 49 points. If two teams are statistically tied in the first half of a game, the second half is when people really start paying attention.
This is a major reason why many championship games don’t have widespread appeal. People like to get an early start and see which team will triumph, but most people watch the game because they want to see who wins. If the first half is close, people might stay up late to see the last few minutes.
On the other hand, regular season games are often times unappetizing to fans because they are typically uncompetitive. If a team is losing by a large margin, fans have already seen the type of play they’re going to see for the rest of the game. They might as well sit back and enjoy the show since they’re not gaining much from the experience.
What Does The Future Of The NCAA Football Championship Look Like?
Over the next few years, the NCAA football championship is going to look very different. The reason being there are only so many prime-time slots on TV, and the NCAA doesn’t have the leverage to fight over who gets them. As a result, they’re going to start promoting and using non-championship games more. This is already happening in 2018. On Jan. 26, the NCAA played a game between Coastal Carolina and Notre Dame in Dublin, Calif. The Irish won that game 44–23, but the NCAA only got a share of the gate. The rest went to charity. The same thing happened in 2017, when the NCAA played a game between North Carolina and Iowa in Charlotte on Jan. 14. The Tar Heels beat the Hawkeyes 40–12, but the Irish got a free hotel room and all the money from the gate.
The fact that the NCAA plays a home game in a cold-weather city like Fargo, North Dakota, doesn’t help matters much either. The team is probably not going to win many games this year. In fact, since 2011, the team has only won four games.
To prevent this from happening, the NCAA needs to find a way to make these games more interesting to the average fan. In the meantime, the 2019 Orange Bowl will be interesting to see, mostly because it features two of the best teams of the 2018 season. However, this year’s game won’t have national title implications. It will be interesting to see if either team rises to the occasion and puts on a show or if the game follows the usual formula. Either way, it should be a good game. On Jan. 4, the Patriots play the Rams in the Super Bowl, which might not seem like the biggest game of the year, but it’s in between the two championship games, so it gets a lot of attention.