Bet the National Championship Exacta
by Trevor Whenham - 08/31/2006
Do you figure that you're a college football guru? Pretty sure you know who will be playing for the championship in January? If you're right, you could get paid a pretty penny for your genius at Pinnacle Sportsbook. The book has unveiled their 2007 National Championship Game Exacta wagers, promising huge payoffs if you can choose not only who is going to win the National Championship, but who they are going to beat in the new National Championship Game on Jan. 8 in Arizona.
There are 12 different teams you can choose from - Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Texas and West Virginia. If none of those teams strike your fancy you can choose The Field to win or finish second (or both if you want). Here's a look at some of the more interesting combinations:
The longest odds: The bookmakers don't seem convinced that LSU will beat Auburn in the big game. That combination is at +113,769, so a successful $100 bet would net you a lavish Italian sports car. It's a terrible bet, however. One team is guaranteed a loss when the two teams meet on Sept. 16, and then one of them would have to get to the big game without playing in the conference championship game. Not going to happen, in other words. Interestingly, Auburn beating LSU only pays +80,121, so you don't get rewarded nearly as well for that loser bet.
The shortest odds: People don't have a ton of faith in the choice of teams that are offered. The shortest odds on the board, at +1341, are for the field versus the field. That means that a lot of teams expected to do well would have to stumble badly and other teams would have to rise up from almost nowhere. This hardly seems fair - if I correctly picked Michigan State over TCU in the final, I would want a heck of a lot more than 13/1 for my efforts. The field factors into the second shortest odds, too - Ohio State over The Field pays +1408.
The rematch: It would be very surprising to see Texas and USC both overcome some pretty big player losses (if you call Vince Young and Reggie Bush big losses, that is) and meet again. If you think I'm wrong you can throw your money on the line at +4497. If USC were to get revenge for their loss last year it would pay +5623. A repeat doesn't look very good in general for Texas. The USC rematch is actually their lowest price other than the field. Texas over Ohio State would be unlikely since they already play this year, so the +39,889 isn't a bargain.
Righting past wrongs: If you talk to any LSU fan, they will bore you to death telling you about how they were the rightful Champs in 2003. I'd be tempted to pick the Tigers over USC (+34,125) just because that might finally shut the fans up. Similarly, a Miami win over Ohio State (+23,454) may shut up 'Canes fans about the horrible refereeing in 2002.
Rivalries: Seeing one of the all-time great rivalries play out on the biggest stage would be amazing. It would be very hard for most of them to happen, however, since one team would already have beaten the other in the regular season, and a team with the loss is not likely to show up in the final game. Still, think of how much fun it would be. Ohio State would pay +45,499 to beat my beloved Michigan, while the reverse is even less likely, at +80,000. Notre Dame is also more likely to beat the Wolverines (+45,630) than the opposite (+80,000). Oklahoma, with their raw quarterback is more likely to beat Texas and their raw QB (+29,000) than the opposite (+39,998). Florida isn't likely to beat Miami (+53,282) or Florida State (+58,759). USC is less likely to beat Notre Dame in a replay of last year's epic game (+32,942) than Notre Dame is to extract revenge (+23,545).
The Field: The truly glamorous picks might not be part of the field, but there are some attractive teams included. Unfortunately, the low odds show that other people have noticed the same thing. It's certainly not impossible for a team to rise up from nowhere - Oklahoma was 8-5 the year before they won it all. Included in the group are Louisville and their explosive offensive, Nebraska, which has to get better eventually, last year's big Surprise from Penn State, and Cal, which could roll through the Pac-10 if USC falters. If you are one of the idealists that believe that a non-BCS team is going to make it to the big dance one of these years, then you get TCU, Utah, Fresno State and all the others, too.
Chasing big payoffs: If you want the really big score there are other places to look than LSU over Auburn. There is only one other potential six-figure payday (Florida State over Florida - +104,350), but you can afford something really nice if Miami beats Florida (+80,848), or if Michigan beats Florida State or LSU (+74,493 for either). If you want the big prices you'll want to stay away from Notre Dame, Ohio State or the Field. Bettors seem to especially like them.