Last Updated: 2018-01-09
The College Football Playoff trophy belongs to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Before the National Championship Game was even finished, odds were out at the Westgate Superbook for next year’s champion. You’ll never guess who the favorite is!
Yeah, it’s Alabama. Before we dive deeper into the teams and the prices, can we just take a second to consider how annoying it is that these are the odds for the 2019 National Champion, even though it is the 2018 season? Why not just say 2018 National Champion since it’s for the 2018 season? Who cares if the game takes place a week into the New Year?
Anyway, whining aside, the odds are out. Offshores should be posting some similar prices soon enough on these odds. Obviously there aren’t many people out there thinking about a bet that will be settled 363 days from time of writing, but value is value at any point throughout the year. Most 2018 recruiting classes are set and a lot of the new coaching hires have taken up residence in their new offices.
The list is longer than what we’re going to see, but the College Football Playoff committee made it very clear that a Group of Five team has no shot to win the playoff, so those teams can be crossed off.
One of the big considerations for these futures is the schedule. We haven’t seen a two-loss team make the College Football Playoff yet. Not all conference schedules are finalized, but make sure you’re checking that out before you dive in. For example, Auburn will be a popular pick, but the Tigers go to Georgia and Alabama and may see Georgia again in the SEC Title Game, if they get that far.
Another consideration is that you want to try to isolate a team in the weaker division, if there is one. For example, looking at the Pac-12 South may be wise because it is weaker than the Pac-12 North (though you’ll see a Pac-12 North team listed below).
Rather than type out the list, here are all of the teams in this fancy jpg:
With that in mind, let’s look at some early teams to consider as the offshores start putting up numbers:
Miami Florida (25/1) – Mark Richt’s team felt like it was a year ahead of schedule. Junior running back Travis Homer had nearly six yards per carry and he’ll return for a Hurricanes offense that dealt with a lot of skill player injuries this season. Malik Rosier’s job isn’t totally safe, which is a good thing for the Hurricanes because he did have a 26/14 TD/INT ratio. Options are good. The Hurricanes will be in Year 3 of Richt’s system, so they’ll have more recruits that fit the scheme and more familiarity with his plans. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is a great fit here. The Hurricanes don’t have too many challengers in the ACC Coastal Division. If Miami can knock off LSU in Week 1, then this 25/1 looks pretty good.
Oklahoma State (100/1) – Mike Gundy’s bunch will lose Mason Rudolph and James Washington, but it is really hard to count out a Gundy team. Stillwater is a factory for offensive talent and he’s sure to find somebody that can take over the reins in the passing game. If nothing else, star running back Justice Hill just completed his sophomore season, so he isn’t draft-eligible yet after racking up 1,467 yards this past year. The Cowboys do go to Norman for the rivalry game against Oklahoma and wrap up at TCU, but the non-conference is weak and Oklahoma State could very well be undefeated going into November 10. TCU at 60/1 makes a lot of sense here as well, since Oklahoma will be replacing Baker Mayfield.
Oregon (60/1) – The Ducks were a much different team when Justin Herbert was on the field and he’ll be ready to go in September. We’ll have to see how things go with new head coach Mario Cristobal, but defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt stuck around after transforming the Ducks defense from one of the worst in the country to a very respectable unit. The Ducks are in a tough battle in the Pac-12 North with Stanford, Washington, and Washington State, but the non-conference schedule is remarkably weak and the Ducks get the Trees and UDub at home. The Ducks also avoid USC during the nine-game conference schedule.
UCLA (100/1) – It may take Chip Kelly a year to get everything situated in Los Angeles, but, at 100/1, with Sam Darnold moving on to the NFL and not many challengers in the Pac-12 South, there’s some value here. The Bruins do go to Oklahoma in Week 2, which is a challenge, and visit Oregon, but they’ll get USC and Stanford at home. The schedule is a bear, pardon the pun, but we know UCLA has stockpiled a lot of talent. They just need somebody to maximize it.
Finally, keep in mind that the goal of every futures bet is to lock in profit. Hitting the jackpot by picking the winner is great, but you are holding some great hedging opportunities if you get these teams into conference title games with legitimate shots of getting into the College Football Playoff. Prices like Alabama 5/2, Clemson 6/1, and Ohio State 8/1 will be available closer to the season. You want to try to find prices that won’t be and some of these could be long gone when games kick off for the 2018 season.
-END OF 2019 ODDS AND PICKS-
When one door closes, another door opens. You’ve heard that expression before, right? Well, when one season ends, another one begins. Odds are already out for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion, even though the ink is barely dry on all of the newspapers celebrating Clemson’s title. It’s just the nature of the beast in this industry. Most people aren’t willing to tie up a portion of the bankroll to an event that won’t be settled until almost a year from now, but they’re out and there’s a lot to talk about.
First thing to talk about is how annoying it is that it is labeled the 2018 College Football Playoff when it’s the 2017 college football regular season. It seems like consistency should play a role here, but the NCAA is consistently inconsistent, so maybe that’s just the way that they do things. In any event, we’ve got a long list of 79 teams with odds at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Normally, we suggest shopping around for the best price, but BetOnline has 37 teams listed. We’ll compare and contrast with the teams listed at both sites.
It’s never too early to look for value. Based on recruiting, spring injuries, fall camps, and things of the sort, teams at prices now may not be at those same prices down the line. With the college football offseason timeline accelerated so much in the sports betting market with lines and win totals coming out in May, it’s definitely in your best interest to consider some of these numbers.
Here are the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion odds from 5Dimes Sportsbook (BetOnline numbers in parentheses):
Alabama +300 (+350)
Florida State +800 (+700)
Ohio State +800 (+800)
USC +850 (+800)
Oklahoma +900 (+800)
LSU +1400 (+1400)
Michigan +1500 (+1200)
Louisville +1800 (+1400)
Clemson +2000 (+1800)
Penn State +2500 (+2800)
Texas +2800 (+2800)
Oklahoma State +3500 (+3300)
Washington +3500 (+4000)
Georgia +3500 (+3300)
Auburn +3500 (+2800)
Virginia Tech +4500 (+4000)
Tennessee +5500 (+5000)
Kansas State +5500 (+5000)
UCLA +6000 (+5000)
Wisconsin +6000 (+5000)
Florida +6000 (+5000)
West Virginia +6500 (+6000)
Miami Florida +6500 (+5000)
Notre Dame +6500 (+6000)
Texas A&M +6600 (+8000)
Oregon +8500 (+8000)
Washington State +8500 (+8000)
Stanford +9000 (+8000)
TCU +9000 (+8000)
Michigan State +10000 (+8000)
NC State +10000 (+10000)
Colorado +10000 (+10000)
Mississippi +12500 (+10000)
Nebraska +15000 (+15000)
Iowa +20000 (+15000)
North Carolina +25000
Mississippi State +25000
Boise State +25000 (+10000)
Georgia Tech +25000
Arizona State +25000
Minnesota U +30000
South Carolina +30000
Wake Forest +50000
Oregon State +50000
Texas Tech +50000
Iowa State +50000
Boston College +50000
Central Florida +100000
East Carolina +100000
Louisiana Tech +100000
Western Kentucky +100000
Air Force +500000
Well, that’s some kind of list. It looks like most of the better prices are at 5Dimes, but it’s always in your best interest to shop around, especially with futures prices.
Here are five times that you should consider for the futures market:
1. USC (+850) – The USC Trojans handled Washington up in Seattle and it seemed like Clay Helton got more comfortable with the program as the season went along. USC had some defensive issues against Penn State, to put it lightly, but they lost three of their first four games and didn’t lose again. Sam Darnold brought stability to the quarterback position and we know that the Trojans recruit a ton of talent. The Pac-12 South might actually be the weaker of the two divisions now with UCLA’s fall from grace and Arizona State dropping off. Colorado is still set up nicely, but it’d be surprising to see USC at a better price than this once the hype train leaves the station.
The schedule has to be a consideration for all of these teams. USC got thrashed by Alabama to start last season. This year, they catch Texas at home in non-conference play in Week 3. They do go to Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish are down quite a bit. USC avoids Washington and Oregon in cross-division play. They go to Colorado and Washington State, but catch Stanford at home. The schedule isn’t out, but the locations of the games are and it looks like a decent slate for the Trojans.
2. Michigan (+1500) – This suggestion makes this Ohio State fan gag, but it’s about that time in Ann Arbor. The third year of Jim Harbaugh means the third set of recruits that fit the mold of what he’s looking for in a team. It seems like he found a useful quarterback in Wilson Speight. Premier programs lose talent all the time, so don’t fret over the losses of Jabrill Peppers and Jake Butt. The Wolverines are also set up nicely in that the Ohio State Buckeyes have to rebuild on the defensive side again and lost a significant game-changer in Curtis Samuel.
“The Game” will be at Michigan Stadium this season. The non-conference games feature Florida at a neutral site, Cincinnati, and Air Force at home. The Wolverines do go to Happy Valley for what will probably be a night game on October 21 and also visit Camp Randall to battle the Wisconsin Badgers the week prior to the Ohio State matchup, but Michigan should have a decent SEC win on its resume to start the year and should be playing for a spot in Indianapolis on November 25.
3. Miami (FL) (+6500) – This one is probably my favorite of the medium-to-long shots. There is some uncertainty at the quarterback position for Mark Richt with Brad Kaaya coming out for the NFL Draft, but this should be the best defense in the Coastal Division by a pretty big margin. Richt had some quality quarterback play at Georgia, but the foundation of his offense was always the running game. There are some quality backs in Coral Gables and it’s also important to point out that this is the second season under Richt. A 9-4 record was plenty good enough for Miami, which is ironic because UGA would have loved that this season. The Hurricanes struggled against the meat of their schedule, but only lost by one to Florida State, seven to North Carolina in a bad spot, and three at Notre Dame. They wrapped up the season well and crushed West Virginia in the bowl games. Things are looking up.
Miami shouldn’t slip up in the non-conference. A visit to Arkansas State in Week 2 is a quirky little element, but they went to Boone, NC and throttled Appalachian State last season. Notre Dame visits Hard Rock Stadium this year. The Hurricanes do go to Tallahassee, which is problematic, but they catch Virginia Tech at home. North Carolina is on the road, but the Tar Heels will be down a bit. Miami also avoids both Clemson and Louisville, so go ahead and make this investment.
4. Stanford (+9000) – One team from the Pac-12 South and one team from the Pac-12 North. The Stanford Cardinal seem way underpriced here. Christian McCaffrey is leaving and that’s obviously a big blow to the offense, but Stanford was fine when Stepfan Taylor left and persevered without Toby Gerhart before him. Not to take anything away from McCaffrey, who was an elite college football player, but the running back position at Stanford is basically plug-and-play. People probably don’t realize that Taylor is the career leading rusher and McCaffrey passed Gerhart for fourth. That means the last three starting running backs for Stanford have effectively been first, third, and fourth in total yards. Bryce Love, come on down. Stanford was young and inexperienced at the quarterback position, which is a problem that has been solved for next season. We know the defense will be stout because it always is.
The non-conference for Stanford features Notre Dame, as it always does, but that game is at home and so are five of the nine conference games, including Washington, Oregon, and UCLA. The Cardinal do go on the road to USC, Utah, and Washington State, so that’s no picnic, but their style of play does travel pretty well. At a price point like this, it’s a worthwhile investment to make.
5. Mississippi State (+25000) – This is the Hail Mary to end all Hail Marys. The meat grinder that is the SEC West is clearly a problem when taking anybody outside of the top teams. However, it’s not a stretch to say that Mississippi State has the best quarterback in the division with Nick Fitzgerald. A case can obviously be made for Jalen Hurts, but Fitzgerald is a special player that could rewrite some of Dak Prescott’s history. The Bulldogs catch both LSU and Alabama at home. They also host the Egg Bowl. The non-conference is very manageable. The biggest issue is margin for error, because Alabama rarely loses and there’s no trip to Atlanta without some help and therefore no College Football Playoff trip, unless it’s a down year for a lot of top programs.
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs made an interesting move at defensive coordinator to bring in Todd Grantham. It felt like Dan Mullen felt the loss of Geoff Collins this past season. It certainly wasn’t pretty in the St. Petersburg Bowl, but there’s some more optimism within the program. This isn’t the wisest investment of your money, but the price seems a little bit fat and this feels like the 2014 season when Mississippi State went 10-3 and actually spent four weeks as the #1 team in the country.
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