Early 2017-2018 College Football Playoff Odds and Picks
By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
As of press time, we are still months away from the start of the 2017-18 college football season. Therefore, not all the information is at hand. Any number of different things can happen from now until then to throw any analysis into a mess. By the same token, those who are willing to delve into the unknown a bit can benefit from some good value if willing to take an early stand. And for those just looking to get an early lay of the land in college football, it never hurts to see what people are thinking heading into spring.
This is the third season of the College Football Playoff—a 4 team tournament format used to crown the champion. We've seen the same teams make it to the final both seasons. In 2016, it was the Alabama Crimson Tide beating the Clemson Tigers, 45-40. But in the 2017 CFP title game, Clemson beat 'Bama, 35-31. Alabama remains atop the odds at +325, but Clemson has fallen down the chart following their title-winning season, now going off as the 10th choice at +2200 odds. Let's take a look at the odds for teams to win the CFP, followed by an analysis of some of the top favorites, along with some darkhorse picks that could really bring home the bacon if it delivers.
Odds to Win the College Football Playoff in 2018
Ohio State +650
Florida State +775
Penn State +2700
Oklahoma State +4500
Virginia Tech +4500
Kansas State +6000
West Virginia +6000
Texas A&M +6600
Notre Dame +6800
Miami Florida +8000
Washington State +8500
Michigan State +10000
NC State +10000
Arizona State +20000
Boise State +25000
Georgia Tech +25000
Mississippi State +25000
North Carolina +27500
Minnesota U +30000
South Carolina +30000
Texas Tech +35000
Boston College +50000
Oregon State +50000
Wake Forest +50000
Iowa State +60000
Central Florida +100000
East Carolina +100000
Louisiana Tech +100000
Western Kentucky +100000
Air Force +500000
About the Odds: Most sports bettors with even a surface understanding of college football betting can fathom the odds of the top teams on the board. Alabama at +325 means you win $325 for every $100 you bet. Easy enough. But some of these numbers further down the board can boggle the mind of even a seasoned bettor of college football. Here's a handy little guide to help you comprehend the big numbers that we see on the board for odds to win the CFP.
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No choice to win the CFP in an underdog. If a number you see on the board has 3 numbers, the odds are less than 10-1. If the number has 4 digits, it's between 10-1 and 99-1. We see Michigan at +1600, which means they are 16-1. We see TCU at +9000, which means 90-1. Five digits means anywhere from 100-1 to 999-1. Michigan State is +10000, which means 100-1. Kansas is +75000, which means 750-1. Six numbers is 1000-1 to 9999-1. Central Florida is +100000, which means 1000-1. Army is +500000, which is 5000-1. And those are the highest odds offered on who will win the CFP in 2017-18.
Early Favorites Breakdown:
Alabama (+325): Looking for their third straight trip to the College Football Playoff, the Crimson Tide has a lot of pieces to replace, especially on defense, where a bulk of their star-power is gone. Still, quarterback Jalen Hurts returns with a fearsome backfield in Harris and Scarborough, some great returning receivers in ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley, and an offensive line that should make it all come together. If they can maintain on "D," the offense should be special enough to carry 'Bama back to the 4-team playoff.
Ohio State (+650): Last season, they were good enough to get to the College Football Playoff, despite many observers feeling they may have needed another year to come together. Their defense lost enough key pieces to throw that side of the ball into a bit of an iffy category. JT Barrett is back for another go and could have a special season.
Florida State (+775): The 'Noles finished strongly in 2016, beating vaunted Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Their talent began to shine through, giving FSU optimists cause for hope in 2017. Quarterback Deondre Francois was great as a freshman and should be better this season. They lost some offensive firepower with guys like Dalvin Cook leaving, but Jimbo Fisher has shown a deft recruiting touch and those spots should be filled capably. The defense is almost completely intact and we could very well be seeing a Seminoles return to prominence this season.
USC (+775): On one hand, there might not have been more than a few teams that were better than the Trojans over the last half of the 2016 season. Once he got playing time, redshirt freshman QB Sam Darnold was electric. And while the defense looks like it will be mostly intact other than the departure of Adoree Jackson, the loss of several key pieces of offensive firepower could be a concern as USC tries to continue the massive momentum they established last season.
Oklahoma (+1050): They really poured it on at the end of last season to overcome some early hiccups, winning ten straight to close 2016. Baker Mayfield returns after a huge statistical season at QB, along with most of his offensive line. Losing Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon, and Dede Westbrook leave some huge voids to be filled, but the excellence of the QB and line should make up for it. They will have their chances to make a strong CFP case this upcoming season.
Cautionary Word About Underdogs: Before we list the top underdog picks, remember that a lot of teams are dealing with a built-in disadvantage playing outside of the Power Five Conferences. You can pick a team and they can win each and every game and still get shut out of the College Football Playoff. Under the right circumstances, teams in better conferences who may have even lost a game can jettison unbeaten teams from lesser conferences. So before taking a team at huge odds, ask yourself if it's even possible for them to get to the CFP. Look at their schedules. We need to make sure we're not throwing money away on hopeless propositions.
Underdogs With Upside:
Penn State (+2700): We see pretty good value here on a Penn State team that looked really strong last season. QB Trace McSorley is back, as is RB Saquon Barkley, and a peaking O-line and defense that doesn't lose much from 2016. A tough schedule lies ahead, but Penn State might be interesting this season.
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Georgia (+3000): Look for an upgrade in the play of QB Jacob Eason. With Sony Michel and Nick Chubb in the backfield, this offense could be running over some opponents this season. They will have their chances.
Wisconsin (+8000): at 80-1, Wisconsin showed a lot last season and a little boost could put them in position for big things. We like that Alex Hornibrook is back after a promising freshman campaign with the bulk of his line. Some seniors have left, but if a few pieces blossom ahead of schedule, look out for the Badgers at a huge price!