We are coming down the home stretch of 2020-21 NCAA football season, which will culminate with the College Football Playoff in early January.
The lengthy holiday bowl season hasn't quite begun and we are still a few weeks away from the final CFP rankings being released and knowing what the matchups will be. With that said, it definitely is not too early to take a look at the betting odds and make some College Football Playoff predictions for which programs may win the national title.
What Is The College Football Playoff?
If you're a casual fan or a newcomer to college football, you may be wondering: what is the College Football Playoff exactly?
In layman's terms, it's a four-team knockout tournament to decide the national champion for that season. Despite all regular-season games being played in 2020, the playoff is played after the New Year and that makes the upcoming tournament the 2021 College Football Playoff.
The playoff is made up of the four teams (deemed to be the most deserving by a College Football Playoff committee) and three games in total to determine the champion. The two semifinal matchups are played in the first week of January and the championship is played several days later.
Two of the "New Year's Six" bowl games are tabbed to be seminfinal matchups for that year, with it rotating every season. Here is the 20201 College Football Playoff schedule:
- Jan 1, 2021: Rose Bowl Game (Pasadena, CA) & Sugar Bowl (Atlanta, GA)
- Jan 11, 2021: CFP national Championship Game (Miami, FL)
College Football Playoff Betting 2021
From a gambling standpoint, the CFP is a little bit like the Super Bowl. It's not merely a game (or in this case, a set of three games), it's a spectacle that lasts for nearly two weeks thanks to the time between the semifinal and the championship contest.
When it comes to NFL betting, every game has tons of betting markets offered at online betting sites in NJ, PA, and many other states at this point. Then when we get into the postseason and closer to the championship, even more markets (mostly props) are added and the sheer amount of betting options spikes to a whole new level. Well, the increase in wagering options is even more drastic in college football.
On Saturdays, there are definitely plenty of categories to choose from when betting on college football, but nothing like what is offered at the NFL level. When the playoff comes up, however, there are suddenly hundreds of markets offered and literally thousands of options within those markets within those markets.
As mentioned above, sifting through all of the available markets is comparable to figuring out what to bet on leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. Anything and everything you can imagine (and more) is an option and as the CFP gets closer, we'll definitely be diving more into it.
For now, we are sticking with the only available market we have: odds to win the 2021 college football national championship.
Best Sportsbooks For College Football Betting
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For more information on college football wagering, visit our NCAA football betting guide!
2021 College Football Playoff Predictions
Only four teams make the CFP and realistically, there aren't all that many teams that have a chance to win the title at this stage. With that said, there are still at least four options and perhaps there's room for some current outsiders to crash the party if some havoc takes place, which we can never rule out.
Using BetMGM college football odds, we'll analyze the current top four and a couple of other options to consider if making CFP predictions on college football national championship odds.
- Alabama Crimson Tide (+125 at BetMGM)
Nick Saban's team has been the favorite all year and it remains that way for good reason. Alabama is undefeated and the only way it doesn't reach the playoff is if the season is canceled entirely.
The consensus No. 1 team and top-ranked club in the CFP rankings has dominated every opponent it has played and even if it somehow lost a game, it is still probably one of the top four teams. The betting value is low, but so are the chances that anyone beats this club.
Alabama's CFP odds will be pretty long when it comes to both the semifinals and the championship, so getting them at plus-money right now might be the best-case scenario.
With a +125 line, the implied probability of an alabama championship run is 44.4 percent. So if you think the Crimson Tide come out on top at least half the time, for example, that would already mean some value is presented here. Where things sit now, that feels likely.
- Clemson Tigers (+250 at BetMGM)
The Tigers are currently No. 3 in the rankings and despite dealing with Trevor Lawrence's COVID-19 diagnosis plus suffering a loss to Notre Dame, the Tigers still control their own destiny. Clemson is undoubtedly heading for the ACC title game and a rematch with the Irish, where a win would secure a spot in the CFP.
Lawrence missed the last matchup against Notre Dame, which was played in South Bend while the ACC championship is at a neutral site. Clemson also barely lost that game in double overtime. With that said, are +250 odds good enough to take a shot with this team to win the championship?
Where things stand currently, the answer is no for us. There are plenty of hills to climb including three playoff-caliber games, beginning with the ACC title contest against the Irish and perhaps ending with a championship game against Alabama. At +250, we aren't ready to take that leap no matter how good the quarterback is.
- Ohio State Buckeyes (+550 at BetMGM)
The biggest thing Ohio State needs to be worried about is more games getting canceled, if we're being honest. This team needs to play enough games to be eligible to win the Big 10 championship so if the two games against Michigan State and Michigan remain on the schedule, there's a great chance the Buckeyes run the table and get into the playoff.
Even though Ohio State's strength of schedule is probably the worst of any team in the running, at least six games played combined with a Big 10 title will be enough to get them into the CFP. Whether or not that's fair is another question, but because it has only played four games at the moment, Ohio State is currently ranked fourth.
If things fall into place, this is absolutely a team to keep an eye on. Because of all the circumstances surrounding the other possibilities for the CFP, it's more than likely that if they do make it, Ohio State is number two or three, and not four. Assuming the Crimson Tide run the table as expected, this means the buckeyes get to avoid Alabama until a potential championship game.
Even though the Buckeyes could be overmatched, as any team would be against ‘Bama, this scenario makes the +550 odds pretty appetizing. The biggest hurdle leading up to that potential matchup (other than the schedule actually getting played out) is that first semifinal game but with the current line, it could be worth a shot.
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+700 at BetMGM)
This is pretty simple for Notre Dame, the team that currently sits at No. 2 in the rankings. If they win out, they are in the College Football playoff. The only thing that stands in this team's way is Clemson in the ACC title game but since they've already defeated Clemson, albeit without Lawrence, these odds are too good to pass up.
Even with a loss to Clemson, there's a chance of getting in. But in that situation, Notre Dame would be Number 4 though and face Alabama in the opening round. While their odds would reflect the uphill battle, it would be tough to back this team in that scenario, especially after it had just lost to Clemson to wind up there.
Of course, we don't have the luxury of knowing the result of the ACC title game just yet. But where it stands now, the Irish could run the table and finish No. 2 behind Alabama and currently have +700 odds. The implied probability is just 12.5 percent but all things considered, that could be worth it for the payout at stake here.
- Florida Gators (+1200 at BetMGM)
This one is very unlikely but since Florida controls its own destiny, it's worth mentioning that this is the outsider to keep an eye on. The Gators would need to win out, including taking down Alabama in the SEC title game.
A tall task indeed, but one that would make the Gators a viable threat if it ever happened. How things shake out and who it would face in the semifinal is completely up for grabs but with +1200 odds, this team could be worth a look as a longshot option.
2021 College Football Playoff Best Bets
This is a year and an NCAA football season unlike any other, and more than just the games on the schedule play a role in how things shake out. It isn't ideal but it's where we are, and there's a ton to take into consideration when making any CFP betting picks.
Still, we're doing our best to draw some conclusions and predict who will raise the trophy on January 11 in Miami. Based on the value of the odds and not necessarily the most likely things to happen, consider these College Football Playoff best bets:
- Alabama To Win National Title (+125)
- Notre Dame To Win National Title (+700)
- Ohio State To Win National Title (+550)
- Florida To Win National Title (+1200)
Photo Credit: Associated Press