NCAA Football Expert Predictions: Will Team Make College Football Playoff Props
I love breaking down prop bets in a search for value, and I spend a whole lot of time and a whole lot of words every year doing so. My favorite will always be Super Bowl prop bets for the sheer variety and creativity. Not far behind, though, is the group of props that emerge each August concerning whether given teams will make the College Football Playoff or not. They spawn endless debate and are never boring to consider. Here are some of the highlights offered by Bovada this year:
Boise State - yes +5000: It's never a good sign when the no price would be so ridiculous that they don't even bother to list it. That being said, if you were in the market for a long shot you could do worse than this team at this price. They have a couple respectable road games at Troy and Oklahoma State to add credibility to their schedule, and the conference is solid. The team is the deepest it has been in a few years, and the chance to run the table is there. So, is an unbeaten Boise State team with their best win against a moderate Big 12 team good enough to make the playoff? Not without a lot of help. A whole lot. But if things get crazy and we have conference champions with two losses and a lot of confusion then it could happen. This is purely a gamble, but a pretty fun one - unless they blow that opener at Troy, of course.
TCU - yes +1500, no -3000: They have had stability in the coaching staff this year, and they have talent on both sides of the ball. And with high-profile QB changes and a program still building at Texas, the top end of the Big 12 is probably more vulnerable than it has been in a while. That Week 3 contest against Ohio State doesn't look quite as scary as it did recently, either. The defense is going to be really good, and the offense will be run by the best QB prospect, Shawn Robinson, that Gary Patterson has ever had to work with -- and he has had plenty of success with what he has had. There is real upside with this team this year.
Texas - yes +650, no -1200: If you ever needed proof that the betting public is really stupid and can be blinded by loyalty then look no further. I like Tom Herman as much as anyone, and he's going to do good things with this program in time. And he will be much more competitive than he was last year. But to go from where they were last year to a national title against the caliber of elite teams there are this year is just an insane expectation. If you wanted to pitch them as an intriguing long shot then maybe you'd have some ground to stand on. But this is not a long shot price
Miami - yes +650, no -1200: In relative terms you have to like this price - Miami being at the same price as Texas is just a farce. The Hurricanes ran out of gas late, but they did a lot of things really well last year, and most of them are things that they can reasonably be expected to keep doing this year. The talent is sound and the coaching is strong. Now, I don't think that they are really a playoff team, but compared to Texas they are a lock to win it all.
Wisconsin - yes +400, no -600: There is value in the yes side at this price. The team returns a pretty competent quarterback, an excellent running back, and an offensive line that was great last year. The defense will be sound, and they avoid playing both Michigan State and Ohio State and have a nonconference schedule that is laughable. They ran the table in the regular season last year, and there is no reason to doubt that it is at least possible that they are going to be better this year. The Big Ten is just plain loaded this year, but Wisconsin could be the best of the bunch.
Washington - yes +275, no -350: I really like the team and the coaching, but my biggest issue is that the margin for error is just so small. They have a risky season opener against Auburn, and a loss there would likely end their hopes before they even began. Beyond that the nonconference schedule is weak, and the Pac-12 isn't looking like it will amount to much this year. West Coast teams are always cursed by geography, but this team is going to lack quality wins. A 13-0 record with a dominant win in the Pac-12 Championship Game would be tough to ignore, but even just one loss will likely be hard to overcome for them - and two would be a death blow. I like them a lot but not enough to justify this price.
Ohio State - yes +150, no -180: There is now a very good chance that Urban Meyer won't be coaching this team this year. This price was questionable in perfect conditions given the strength of the Big Ten this year. These are no longer remotely close to perfect conditions, so I just don't see how this is possibly playable.
Alabama - yes -260, no +200: I get how good and how consistently dominant Alabama is, and that they are the defending champions and all. And I have no issue with them being the favorites to win it all - they should be. But given that they came as close as they did last year to not even making the playoff, and that they haven't even named a starting QB yet, and that making the playoff is a very difficult task, and that the top end of college football runs deep this year, surely we would have to admit that this price is at least a little ridiculous. Far too low for any value - but what do you expect when it comes to Alabama?
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