2020 College Football National Championship Futures Odds with Expert Betting Predictions
We are three-quarters of the way through the college football regular season. More in some cases - Clemson and Florida are the two ranked teams that are 10 games into their seasons. In one aspect it seems like the season has been going on forever, yet at the same time it feels shocking that there are only three games left for most teams. Add in a likely conference championship game for every playoff team, and there is still a lot of football to be played before we even get to see who the playoff teams are. It's a good time, then, to check in on the college football National Championship futures to see what stands out and where the value might be. As we saw last week with the losses by Alabama and Penn State, things can change in a real hurry here. But here is where we sit right now:
Ohio State (+200): It is hard to argue with the Buckeyes as the favorite. In fact, it hasn't made any real sense to me that they haven't been the top playoff team all along. They have not only not lost but haven't even shown any hints of mortality next. With Rutgers up next , 10-0 is a lock. And then they have received a massive boost with the announced return of all-World DE Chase Young from suspension for the last two games of the year against Penn State and Michigan. If and when they win their division, they will face, most likely, Minnesota in the conference title game. They are in command of their own destiny, and they have the talent to take advantage once they get there. If I had to pick one team, it would be the Buckeyes without too much hesitation.
LSU (+250): Joe Burrow is such a fascinating case. On one hand, he has been spectacular, and if they awarded a Heisman for nine games then he would be the nearly unanimous winner. And he was truly dominant against Alabama. But he's still Joe Burrow. Last year he was totally forgettable, and this year, as a senior no less, he has taken a ridiculous step forward from last year. He has sustained it all year so far, but I still struggle to really believe that it can last all the way along. There is a good chance that this is my hangup as much as it is his shortcoming, but I still remain a little skeptical. I don't hate this team, but I like Ohio State a lot more. So, there is at least relative value in the favorites.
Clemson (+300): This is a tough one to figure out. On one hand, this is not nearly the team they were last year so far. Trevor Lawrence hasn't been as magical, the defense has struggled with their identity at times, and the mojo generally hasn't been there like it was. But they are still 10-0, they are all but certain to win the ACC as an undefeated team, and they will be very tough to keep out of the playoff as an unbeaten conference champion - even one out of such a terrible conference. The biggest key to winning the playoff is making the playoff, so the Tigers are easy to like here. And Lawrence has played his three best games in the last three outings, and the team knows as well as any program what it takes to peak at the right time. This price is, at the very least, reasonable.
Georgia (+800): They still have to get through Auburn this week , and they are in tight in the conference championship game against LSU or Alabama. With one loss already, it's really tough to imagine them as a playoff team from where I am sitting. I hate this price.
Alabama (+900): They are not nearly what they have been. Their star QB is banged up. They don't control their own destiny to get into the conference title game - in fact, it's not at all likely to happen. They would need all sorts of help to make the playoff. If any other team had the same resume, their odds would be at least twice this. I have no interest in paying an Alabama premium most times. And certainly not here.
Oklahoma (+2000): There is perhaps a touch of value here. Their defense hasn't been good enough to win a playoff game the last two years and likely won't be again. But they are solidly favored at Baylor this week and are likely to win the Big 12. As a one-loss conference champ, they would be in decent shape to make the playoff this year.
Oregon (+2200): This is another team that offers some relative value. Their one loss, to Auburn, came in the first game of the season. They are highly likely to win out, and if they win the Pac-12 title game they would add a quality win against, likely, Utah. The way things are shaping up, Oklahoma and Oregon could be battling for the fourth playoff spot behind the Big Ten, SEC and ACC champs. They are in tough, but the price is about right, and there is a lot to like here.
Minnesota (+5000): This is such a great story, and their win over Penn State was truly impressive. But to make the playoff they would need to beat Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio State. It's a tough path. And then they would need to win two games once they got there. Sure, they beat a team in Penn State that was in the playoff at that moment, but that was the biggest game the team has played in decades by a wide margin, so this is too much to ask. But what a Disney movie we would have if they did win.
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