College Football National Championship Futures
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 10/06/2008
One weekend is all it took to have the college football national championship futures odds fluctuating as much as the stock market. Top 10 teams USC, Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin all fell two weeks ago--as did South Florida this past week--and all these teams saw their odds to take home the biggest prize in college football skyrocket. The biggest winners of the latest chaotic weekends have been Oklahoma and Alabama, which sit No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, atop the AP Top 25 poll.
With last season's chaos still fresh in the minds of oddsmakers they were not too quick to rule anybody out of the race. Teams like USC (+500), Georgia (+1400) and Florida (+1200) still have respectable odds listed on Bodog despite the recent losses. Last season a two-loss team, LSU reached and won the BCS Championship Game.
The Sooners continue to watch their odds of winning it all improve. After opening at +1200 at the beginning of the season Oklahoma is now down all the way to +200 with a date looming against Texas in the Red River Rivalry. Having the best odds in the country has more to do with the upcoming schedule than the No. 1 ranking in the polls. The Sooners' remaining road games are against Kansas St., Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. Fellow Big 12 power Missouri is not on the schedule and likely awaits the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship Game. Bodog has dropped Missouri all the way down to +550 from a season opening +1400 and they were listed at +700 before their throttling of Nebraska in Lincoln Saturday night. The added payout for a Missouri bet to an Oklahoma bet is because the Tigers still must travel to Texas Oct. 18 in a game they will likely be underdogs in.
Alabama entered the season as a longshot to win its own conference but after stunning upsets of Clemson and Georgia--both in blowout fashion--the Crimson Tide have the second best odds on the board at +450. They entered the season at +3000. Obviously that was a tremendous preseason value to nab Alabama at +3000 but now only at +450 it is a play most people should stay away from. The upcoming schedule features road games at Tennessee and LSU along with the Iron Bowl against Auburn and an SEC Championship Game if they were to make it. That gives them the most challenging road ahead for any national championship contender.
The SEC has three other teams with legitimate BCS title aspirations. LSU (+1000), Florida (+1200) and Georgia (+1400) all have similar odds despite LSU still having an undefeated record and Florida and Georgia reeling from embarrassing home losses. LSU has value at +1000 as they approach a date in the swamp as four-point underdogs. If they can get past the Gators they face easy road games at South Carolina and Arkansas and a stretch of five-straight home games in which they should be favored to win all. Georgia's odds at +1400 do not match the upcoming challenge for the Bulldogs. Not only do they have to run the table with road games at LSU, Kentucky and Auburn but they also need help with teams above them losing as they are currently ranked No. 10.
Florida is an interesting play at +1200. Voters quickly forget upsets that occur in September and they have already returned to title contention at No. 11. The winner of this week's showdown with LSU will become the favorite to win the SEC.
In the Big Ten, contenders are few and far between. Penn State continues to impress and it has climbed all the way to No. 6 and have seen its odds fall from +1600 in the preseason to +800. But the upcoming schedule featuring road games at Wisconsin, Ohio St and Iowa should provide plenty of obstacles. Ohio State at +1500 is worth another look. The Buckeyes fell from the top of the polls after a blowout at the hands of USC but the upcoming schedule favors the Buckeyes if they can climb ahead of teams. They are currently No. 14 but they have already gotten past Wisconsin and the other big test, Penn State is in Columbus.
The team that started all the upsets with a 27-21 loss to Oregon State last Thursday night as 24-point favorites is right back in the mix and is a decent play at +500. The Trojans will be heavy favorites the rest of the way and at No. 8 they will watch as all the teams in front of them play far more dangerous schedules.
The field is a bet most bettors avoid when dealing with large fields like this but a few teams off the college football radar are starting to turn heads. No. 9 BYU, No. 13 Vanderbilt and No. 14 Utah are all undefeated and all continue to climb the polls. The hardest part for BYU or Utah is not winning out until the regular season finale between the two teams but rather hoping for enough upsets and trying to impress the voters. Vanderbilt will not have a problem impressing the voters, they play in the SEC and they just need to win out which in the SEC would be a very big long shot. Bodog has the field listed at +2500.