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Clemson will look to claim its fifth straight ACC football championship on Saturday when the Tigers head to Charlotte and face the Virginia Cavaliers.
And oddsmakers once again expect the Tigers to not just win but to win rather convincingly.
The Tigers are 28.5-point favorites over the Cavaliers at most sportsbooks. It’s by far the largest spread in any of the title games this weekend.
It marks the sixth-straight contest the defending national champions have been favored by four touchdowns or more. In every game but one this season Clemson has been favored by 24 points or more (Texas A&M, 16.5-point spread).
While LSU and Ohio State have played tougher schedules and beaten ranked opponents to get into the national title discussion, Clemson – which was tabbed as a favorite the moment last season ended – did it by returning many of the key pieces from last year’s championship squad and taking care of business in the ACC. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence fell out of Heisman Trophy consideration relatively early, but still put up respectable numbers (2,870 yards, 30 TDs on 216-of-315 passing) while rarely playing much in fourth quarters of games. Running back Travis Etienne finished third in rushing yards with 1,386 and averaged a league-best 8.3 yards a carry.
People ask sometimes what’s the hardest thing about trying to repeat as a national champion, and my answer is ‘Well, it means we got to go 30-0…,’ That’s a hard thing to do,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
Only once all season did a team challenge Clemson. That came in a 21-20 win at North Carolina as the Tar Heels missed on a two-point conversion that would have given them the lead with 1:17 remaining.
Despite being heavy favorites all year, Clemson is 9-3 against the spread.
The game kicks off at 7:30 pm ET and will air on ABC.
Bettors Willing to Give Points
While sportsbooks put a high number on the point spread, they still found some willing buyers. Over at oddsFire, FanDuel reported that two-thirds of the spread bettors gave the points. Clemson represents 68 percent of the money bet on the spread.
The numbers are similar over at DraftKings, where 70 percent of the bettors are giving the 28.5 points. That equates to 69 percent of the money bet on the spread.
Over at William Hill, 63 percent of the bettors are backing Clemson with 70 percent of the money bet on the defending champs.
William Hill lists the over/under at 57, and 88 percent of its bettors are backing the over. That represents 86 percent of the handle on the total.
Cavaliers Must Make ‘Statement’ Early
The moneyline odds on Clemson are as high as -6000 at William Hill and Caesars. That’s an implied probability of nearly 98.4 percent.
Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall told reporters this week that his team relishes the opportunity it must play for the conference title, but he understands that for his team to notch an epic upset, they need to send a statement early.
“Starting fast, having some success to begin the game certainly makes those kinds of statements,” he said. “Not only to the opponent, but to our own team.”
That start would likely come from quarterback Bryce Perkins, the spark plug on offense. The Virginia senior led the ACC in total offense this season with 3,636 yards of total offense. His 2,949 passing yards were second best in the league, while he also ranked 13th in the conference with 687 yards rushing.
“He’s one of those guys that makes everybody around him better,” Swinney said. “That doesn’t just happen. He’s got the total respect of everyone. Kind of as he goes, they go.”
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Louisiana police are continuing to search for the trio of brazen bandits who assaulted a security guard Friday before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of cash from an unnamed Lake Charles casino.
Two of the robbers hurt the security guard at the gaming venue during the heist. They grabbed his gun and fled the area.
A third suspect — armed with a handgun — demanded cash from a casino cashier. The robber later escaped with the loot.
The security guard’s injuries were not life-threatening, police said. But he required treatment at a local hospital.
The name of the casino was not released by the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office. They did say the gaming property is located on Highway 397 in Lake Charles. There are multiple casinos in the region.
The robbery took place at about 2 a.m. Friday. Later, police released descriptions of the suspected criminals.
The suspect armed with the handgun is about 6 feet 3 inches tall. He was dressed in a gray hooded jacket — with a pocket on the top left side and a black zipper. He also had on jeans and lighter-colored shoes.
The second suspect was also about six feet three inches tall. He was stocky. He was wearing black clothes and a black mask.
The third suspect was shorter than the other two. He also was dressed in black clothes.
He had a dark backpack with him during the robbery. He had a short haircut and what police call “patchy facial hair.”
Members of the public who may have witnessed the robbery or who might know something about the bandits are asked to call the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office at 337-491-3605 or Crimestoppers at 337-439-2222.
Improper Cash Advances in Lake Charles
In May, David Allen Hass, 34, of Pasadena, Texas was charged in connection with allegedly improperly using his company’s credit card in March to get $14,000 from an unnamed Lake Charles casino. In total, there were three separate cash advances leading to the arrest.
In May, Hass allegedly attempted to use the company credit card to get four more cash advances at another Lake Charles casino. Those transactions were denied.
Also, in January, a player — dressed in a camouflage jacket — caused about $500 worth of damage to a slot machine in Charenton, Louisiana’s Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel.
The casino’s surveillance cameras caught the alleged suspect in the act.
Declining Casino Revenue in Louisiana
In April, the Louisiana Department of Economic Development received a report from Spectrum Gaming Group that analyzed statewide legal gambling. Since 2008, casino gaming saw revenues decline by 1.5 percent, the report said.
One of the main reasons for the decline has been increased competition in nearby states, according to a recent report from Casino.org. The casinos in the Bossier City and Shreveport areas were hurt by Oklahoma’s tribal casinos, which are closer to the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.
Mississippi casinos also “continue to siphon Louisiana gamblers,” the report added. “The Mississippi Gaming Commission estimates that in 2018 there were 3.3 million visits by Louisiana residents to the Gulf Coast casinos and 500,000 to the state’s Central Region casinos.”
Overall, Louisiana casinos are struggling with falling revenue. State figures show that in September — the most recent available month — each gaming property reported that revenue fell, according to New Orleans City Business.
Typically, the state’s casinos contribute some $700 million a year to Louisiana’s general fund, the report added.
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The No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2) will look to upset No. 1 Ohio State (12-0) in the Big Ten Championship tonight in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Oddsmakers taking action on the title game aren’t giving the underdog Badgers much of a realistic chance. William Hill and DraftKings have Ohio State spotting Wisconsin 16.5 points. Buckeyes bettors can get a bit better of a deal at Bet365 NJ (16 points), and PointsBet and FanDuel at 15.5 points.
OSU coach Ryan Day isn’t allowing his team to get ahead of themselves.
We absolutely respect these guys,” Day stated. “They’re one of the best-coached teams in America, toughest teams in America.”
The first-year coach continued, “They run the football, they’re very, very well-coached on both sides of the ball, and we were in a dogfight in that game.” Day was referencing his team’s 38-7 win over the Badgers in October.
William Hill has the moneyline with the Buckeyes -900, Badgers +600. A $100 bet on those odds respectively nets a measly $11.11, and $600.
ESPN’s Football Power Index computer simulator gives OSU an 81.6 percent chance at winning, and Wisconsin 18.4 percent. Kickoff for the Big Ten Championship is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET tonight on FOX.
Playoff Berths at Stake
Ohio State has been the considered the first or second top team in the country throughout much of the 2019-20 NCAA football season. The College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship Selection Committee has put the Buckeyes No. 1 in each of the last two weekly rankings.
Pending an absolute blowout at the hands of the Badgers, the odds are strong the Buckeyes will be afforded a playoff spot regardless of whether they grab the Big Ten Championship.
The FPI gives OSU a 96 percent chance of playing in either the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl or Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on December 28. The computer projects Ohio State will win the National Championship 38 percent of the time.
On the other end of the spectrum, the computer has Wisconsin’s chances of securing one of the playoff spots at just five percent. Its championship odds are less than one percent.
Bettors Back Buckeyes
Despite the long point spread on OSU-Wisconsin – second longest this weekend only to No. 3 Clemson (12-0) spotting No. 23 Virginia (9-3) 28.5 points – bettors are still going with the favorites.
The percentage of public spread bets on the game are lopsided in Ohio State’s favor. Oddsmakers have additionally printed more tickets on OSU for the point total and moneyline.
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst is ready for the opportunity to play upset and potentially reach the CFP.
“I certainly think there’s a sense of eagerness or excitement that you’ve done all that you can, and you get a right to play in this game,” Chryst explained.
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No. 6 Oklahoma (11-1) is a solid favorite in the Big 12 Championship Game over No. 7 Baylor (11-1) in a rematch that could potentially send the winner to the College Football Playoff.
According to Big 12 Championship odds at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Sooners are favored by 9.5 points over the Bears, with the winner having an uncertain chance of breaking into the top four and earning an opportunity to play for a national championship.
Oklahoma Stormed Back to Beat Baylor in First Meeting
Oklahoma and Baylor have already played once this season, with the first meeting coming three weeks ago. Baylor led for most of the game, taking a 31-10 lead into the half, and entering the fourth quarter up by two touchdowns. But Oklahoma scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to walk away with a 34-31 win, keeping its playoff hopes alive while denying Baylor the opportunity to put together an undefeated regular season.
That game could give the Sooners confidence heading into the Big 12 Championship. But head coach Lincoln Riley has guarded against that idea, saying that a championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington is much different than a regular season contest at Baylor.
This is a different game. Everything is different about this game,” Riley told reporters. “Championship games are different. They just feel different. Everything about them’s different. So our focus has just got to be on this one and how we can play our very best. We know we’re going to have to play well to beat Baylor.”
Baylor head coach Matt Rhule has enjoyed watching his team’s defense excel all season long, forcing 28 turnovers and collecting 40 sacks in the regular season. But he knows they’ll have to step up if they want to contain Jalen Hurts and the explosive Oklahoma offense.
“Lincoln Riley has one of the most NFL-style offenses in the world,” Rhule told reporters. “I love what Lincoln is doing, because he takes the players he has and says, ‘How can I be successful with these guys?’ And he puts together an offense and he gets everyone involved, and they’re tremendously hard to defend because the ball could be there, it could be there.”
Both Coaches Want Big 12 Championship Winner in Playoffs
The winner of the Big 12 Championship has a chance to make the College Football Playoff. Whoever comes out on top will have earned another quality win, and could leap over the loser of the SEC Championship Game, especially if LSU beats No. 4 Georgia. That result would likely leave the winner in a fight for the last position with No. 5 Utah, if the Utes should beat Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship.
One thing both Big 12 Championship coaches can agree on is that the winner of their battle should get into the playoffs.
In my core, I think every Power 5 conference champion should play, Riley told reporters. “Now, our current system, do I believe us playing every team in our league and every championship game being one versus two should hold more weight? I do.”
“I personally would like to see the Big 12 champion go to the College Football Playoff year-in and year- out,” Rhule told reporters on a teleconference earlier this week. “What good is having a national championship if it’s not national?”
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No. 2 LSU (12-0) is a touchdown favorite over No. 4 Georgia (11-1) as the two teams prepare to meet in the SEC Championship on Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
LSU is a seven-point favorite in the matchup, according to SEC Championship odds posted by DraftKings Sportsbook.
LSU, Georgia Know a Win Gets Them In
More importantly for the two teams involved, LSU is also a -250 pick to win the game outright over Georgia (-250). That’s critical, as the winner of the game will certainly earn a berth in the College Football Playoff.
It’s also possible that the Tigers could get in even with a loss, though that’s far from certain. While many other one-loss SEC teams have been playoff participants, head coach Ed Orgeron didn’t even want to entertain the idea heading into Saturday’s game.
Not even thinking about it,” Orgeron told reporters. “I’m not buying into that at all. We got to win. I don’t even know if we got to win to get in the playoffs or not. I’m not even talking about that. Our goal is to beat Georgia and win the SEC, then let’s see what happens.”
There are far fewer questions on the other side of the ball. Last year, Georgia felt snubbed when they were ranked fifth after finishing the season 11-2 following a heartbreaking loss in the SEC Championship to Alabama.
This year, there would be no debate: with the number of quality undefeated and one-loss conference champions on the board, there’s no way a two-loss team could get in. On the other hand, with the Bulldogs already sitting at No. 4 in the playoff rankings, a win over LSU would virtually guarantee them a spot in the College Football Playoff.
SEC Championship Pits Elite Offense vs. Stellar Defense
In order to earn that spot, Georgia will have to shut down arguably the best offense in the country. If there’s a team that can do it, it’s the Bulldogs, who themselves might well be the best defensive squad in all of college football. But even head coach Kirby Smart admits that his players haven’t yet seen a team like LSU.
“It’s as explosive of a team as I’ve ever seen on tape,” Smart told reporters. “This obviously will be the ultimate test. [LSU has] the best offensive unit we’ve played, all the way around, and it’s really not even close.”
LSU is currently second in the country in scoring offense. At 48.7 points per game, they trail only Ohio State (49.9). Meanwhile, Georgia is second in scoring defense, having allowed just 10.4 points per game (Clemson leads in that category, giving up just 10.1 points per contest).
In that sense, the SEC Championship will come down to a battle between an unmovable object and an unstoppable force.
“On defense, by far the best defense we’ve seen,” Oregron told reporters, speaking of the Georgia defensive unit. “10 points per game…only giving up 257 yards per game.”
While LSU has had to survive one score games against Texas, Auburn, and Alabama, they’ve managed to escape without a loss, while Georgia was upset 20-17 by South Carolina in overtime earlier in the season to give the Bulldogs the only blemish on their record.
The SEC Championship kicks off at 4 pm Eastern, and will air on CBS.
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On December 5, it was announced that Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment has partnered with Hanwha Corporation on the building of the Project Inspire Resort. Including in the reporting of their fourth-quarter results, Mohegan explained that Hanwha will serve as the general contractor for the project which is set to open in 2022.
Explained President and CEO Mario Kontomerkos in the release, “In connection with Inspire, we are pleased to announce our partnership with Hanwha Corp, one of the country’s largest conglomerates, who will serve as our primary general contractor and will also provide the project with important local operational expertise and credit enhancement.”
An agreement has been reached between the two companies in order to advance the project. This included a “guarantee of completion” by Hanwha as well as providing a $100 million investment in the project. There are also operational and infrastructure guarantees that were provided by Hanwha.
The project will include a hotel and resort, as well as non-gaming offerings. The hotel complex is expected to have 1300 rooms and over 4500 square meters dedicated to Korean cosmetics and beauty services. There will also be a themed indoor and outdoor amusement park that will include a 33,000 square meter Eco Adventure Park, which will include an indoor rain forest. It is truly a grand venture, to say the least.
The total capital commitment for the project is $5 billion. The entire structure will be completed in a four-phase plan which could take up to two decades to complete. The final phase of the project is expected to be completed by 2031.
The announcement came as part of a release related to the fourth quarter fiscal earnings of Mohegan Gaming (MGE). The company reported a significant increase over the three month period that ended in September. The increase was 19.2% greater than the amount of revenue for the same period of time in 2018. This was a total revenue of $414 million for the three months.
Kontomerkos added, “MGE had a remarkable fiscal fourth quarter given the inclusion of two new competitors in our primary northeast market in the last 15 months, and we are off to a good start thus far in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 as well. These strong results can be attributed to a commendable management effort by our property leadership as well as our first full quarter of operations from our Niagara resorts.”
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