College Football Playoff: Taking a Look at the Initial Rankings and Odds
by George Monroy - 10/29/2014
Everyone already knew that dropping the BCS Bowl system in favor of a four-team playoff in college football wouldn't solve all of the sport's problems. Most fans and experts complain about snubs during the 68-team NCAA basketball tournament, so it was only inevitable that entire conferences would feel left out once the College Football Playoff selection committee released its first set of rankings after the ninth week of the season.
The committee's first impressions of the college year seemed in line with what most experts were predicting from the very beginning-SEC teams dominating the ranking. Three of the top four spots in the playoff rankings went to squads from college football's glamour conference, and the only non-SEC school to make it into the group was the defending National Champion Florida State Seminoles, who are currently sitting on a 7-0 record. Here is a closer look at the first set of ranking and each team's corresponding national title odds from Sportsbook.ag.
Top 4 Rankings
The biggest concern with a four-team playoff was the SEC dominating the rankings and kicking out other deserving squads from the Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 conferences. Oregon, TCU, Michigan State and Notre Dame all believe that they have a case to be included in the playoffs and that stuffing the ballot with all SEC teams takes away from the entire point of the playoff system in the first place. The ranking committee placed Mississippi State, Florida State and Auburn in the Top 4 spots-the same as the AP and USA Today polls-and the first big snub of the year went to Alabama, who was left out of the potential tournament in favor of Ole Miss.
The committee's first set of rankings are interesting because Alabama is still considered the betting favorite to win the 2015 National title according to the oddsmakers. The Crimson Tide are receiving +600 odds, but if the tournament was played today they would not even be in the running. In fact, Mississippi State is the only team ranked in the Top 4 to receive Top 4 national title betting odds, and according to the bookmakers, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State and Michigan State should be in the tournament.
Top 4 Ranking Odds
No. 1 Mississippi State: +700 (third best)
No. 2 Florida State: +800 (sixth best)
No. 3 Auburn: +1200 (ninth best)
No. 4 Ole Miss: +850 (seventh best)
Top 4 Odds at Sportsbook.ag
1) Alabama: +600
2) Georgia: +700
3) Mississippi State: +700
4) Michigan State: +750
The rest of the Top 10
No.5 Oregon (+750)
No.6 Alabama (+600)
No.7 TCU (+1600)
No.8 Michigan State (+750)
No.9 Kansas State (+2500)
No.10 Notre Dame (+1800)
The committee's Top 10 rankings looked similar to the AP and USA Today polls, with the lone exception being the No. 7 ranking of TCU. The College Football Playoff selection committee placed the 6-1 squad much high than any other major poll, and it could sneak into the playoff if any of the SEC powerhouse squads slip up. The biggest gap in the rankings, however, may be Georgia being placed at No.11, when the squad is still receiving the second-best national title odds in the nation.
Maybe the sportsbooks are projecting and expecting the playoff picture to look drastically difference in a few weeks, or maybe their lines are overrating a few SEC teams. Either way, once the regular season comes to an end in December, expect at least two SEC teams to make it into the playoffs, if not more. The hard truth is that they are simply the best conference in the NCAA and will continue to rule the college football tournament until it is possibly expanded to 16 teams-and even then, multiple SEC squads will still be invited to play in it.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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