O'Donnell: For canniest contrarians, flawed LSU-Clemson betting line is a golden opportunity
ONE OF THE GRAND DREAMS of a sports speculator is a flawed betting line.
The line for the CFP championship game Monday night -- LSU minus-6 over Clemson -- is flawed.
Tauntingly, teasingly, wickedly flawed.
And there is next to no chance, short of some major-major Clemson money from a Jeff Bezos or the Sultan of Brunei, that it will be corrected by kickoff (ESPN, 7 p.m.; Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit; Maria Taylor and Tom Rinaldi on the sidelines).
Thanks to Joe Burrow and his seven touchdown tosses in the first half vs. Oklahoma, so much of the football betting cosmos appears to be in love with his Tigers.
All things Cajun, bayou and Basin Street are suddenly golden to the shrimp boaters, from LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and his raspy patois to poke sallet to Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses."
Even Jean Lafitte replica plastic swords are said to be selling briskly on Bourbon Street.
So deep within the contrarian playing field lurks -- opportunity.
Prior to the CFP semifinals, when the four seedings were announced, some major wagering houses issued speculative, bettable lines on all six title game possibilities.
The oddball was Clemson-LSU.
That line listed as anywhere from LSU minus-1½ to Clemson minus-1½.
Then "The Joe Burrow Show" played the Peach Bowl.
And Dabo Swinney, Trevor Lawrence and those Tigers were forced to repeatedly punch out of some very tough holes against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
But they did.
As Lawrence -- who is 25-0 as starting QB for Clemson -- later told media:
"We didn't play great. And we didn't play pretty.
"But we found a way to get things done."
They were like a prime Kentucky Derby contender in a final prep who breaks badly, engages his main foe at the eighth pole and guts it out eyeball-to-eyeball to the wire.
LSU, meanwhile, breezed as easily as Secretariat that long ago June Saturday at Arlington Park when three restrained opponents were not to embarrass the Triple Crown winner in front of the cameras of ABC's "Wide World of Sports."
And Secretariat -- students -- went on to lose two of his next three races after the exhibition at AP.
If a final kiss of blanching chance were to be given to LSU, it came from Herbstreit, now without question one of the most relentlessly gabby football analysts on the planet.
"Burrow," Herbstreit said, "reminds me a lot of Tom Brady in college."
Brady, as keenest followers know, was all of 20-5 as a starter at Lloyd Carr's Michigan after Brian Griese finally moved on.
That would be five games behind Lawrence's perfect 25-0.
So, battle-toughened Clemson plus-6?
Or gilded minaret LSU minus-6?
It's merely a question of betting shrewdly.
Or, as Tony Joe White might have sung, letting the hype graters get your grannies.
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• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at email@example.com.