College football bettors are more driven by their emotions, given their allegiance to both their team and their school. This is also reflected in the actual betting odds which can drain some of the value in the numbers. How many Ohio State fans bet on the Buckeyes because they are closely affiliated with the school?
Fans and bettors alike rooting for either the ACC’s Clemson Tigers or the SEC’s Alabama Crimson Tide are much more steeped in reality given how these two programs continue to stand tall above every other Division IA (FBS) team in the country.
Betting the Top Favorites
Heading into the 2019 season, both Clemson (as defending champions) and Alabama have the same -250 betting odds to earn a place in the four-team playoff. The slight edge between the two would go to the Tigers as +200 favorites to repeat as champions. The betting odds Alabama gets back on top this season are a close second at +250.
Since the NCAA switched its national title format to a four-team playoff in 2014, these two teams have faced each other three times in the title game and once in a semifinal matchup. Betting on both to reach this year’s playoff could be considered money in the bank.
Each team continues to field the most talented roster on both sides of the ball and each head coach is a proven motivator that can get the most out of their players. Alabama’s Nick Saban may have the more impressive overall resume, but Clemson’s Dabo Swinney continues to close that gap at a rapid pace. With last year’s dominating 44-16 victory in last season’s CFP Championship, Clemson now holds the 2-1 edge in those three title games.
Betting the Top Contenders
The rest of the top college teams in the nation are left to battle it out for the other two playoff spots. At the top of that list is the SEC’s other power program Georgia at +110 odds to make it into the top four. The Bulldogs lost to Alabama last season in the SEC Championship to miss out on making another trip to the CFP semifinals. They also lost to the Tide in the 2016 national title game.
Other than the fact that Georgia has to go through another SEC gauntlet that will most likely conclude with a rematch against Alabama in early December, the Bulldogs remain one of the top four teams in the nation.
The Buckeyes are fourth on the list at +160 betting odds to earn a playoff spot. They now have Ryan Day as their head coach and a strong opponent in Michigan standing in their way to the Big Ten title. The loss of Dwayne Haskins at quarterback and Nick Bosa on defense also drains some value from their betting odds. I would take a pass on Ohio State as a playoff team this season.
Betting the Best of the Rest
The Oklahoma Sooners have a much clearer path to the CFP playing in the Big 12. They should remain the top team in that conference in 2019 to add some solid value to their +160 odds to get back into the playoff field. They were able to keep things competitive against Alabama in a 45-34 loss in last season’s CFP semifinals, but replacing Kyler Murray’s overall production at quarterback is a legitimate concern.
As mentioned, Michigan should compete for a Big Ten title in 2019 as a viable playoff team. The Wolverines’ betting odds to make the four-team field are +300 along with Notre Dame. Between the two, I would go with the added value in Michigan as the best team in its conference this year.