An entertaining college football regular season has come to a close, and we can now look ahead to what should be a super bowl season. The highlight will naturally be the four-team College Football Playoff. After months of speculation, we finally know which four programs have earned the coveted spots.
While the top three have been locked in for some time now, there was plenty of speculation on the final spot heading into championship week. The Oklahoma Sooners got the job done versus the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 title game, and that only further bolstered their standing. The most prolific offensive team in the nation was given the final nod, with the Georgia Bulldogs and Ohio State Buckeyes filling the runner-up spots at #5 and #6 respectively.
Now that the field is set, we can drill down into the futures odds while seeing what each squad brings to the table. Who ya got? As we see it, while Alabama undoubtedly looks like the top team in the country, an argument can certainly be made for one of the other three squads to pull a rabbit out of its hat.
Let’s take a look at the odds for each of these four teams, starting with the Crimson Tide.
*Betting odds provided by: Sportsbetting.ag
Alabama Crimson Tide
Current odds: -220
SEC champions and the unquestioned #1 seed for the College Football Playoffs. The Crimson Tide bring offensive and defensive units to the table which are among the tops in the nation.
The top team in the nation really had to work for its SEC crown. Down by 14 points to the Georgia Bulldogs late in the third quarter, the Crimson Tide kicked it into overdrive for a huge come from behind victory. The win was made all the more stirring by the fact that previously benched QB Jalen Hurts spearheaded the comeback when Heisman Trophy contender Tua Tagovailoa went down to injury.
Tagovailoa is expected to return for the playoffs, but Hurts has clearly demonstrated that the team will be in good hands regardless. It’s a testament to the overall strength of this Alabama team, which may just be the finest in its recent era of dominance.
Alabama will be facing off with the Oklahoma Sooners in a semifinal game at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Saturday, December 29. The winner goes on to play for the National Championship on January 7, 2019 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. At the open, oddsmakers have installed Alabama as a 14-point favorite in a game with an Over/Under of 79.5 points.
Can the Crimson Tide seal the deal for what looks like their destiny for the 2018 season? Can they really cover a two-touchdown spread versus the nation’s most prolific offense? The answer is an emphatic yes on both counts, but that doesn’t mean the Sooners are going to roll over. The National Championship appears to be Alabama’s to lose, but Saturday’s epic game with Georgia demonstrated they are in fact mortal.
Current odds: +310
ACC champions and a clear cut choice for the #2 spot in the playoffs. Clemson also boasts top-ranked offensive and defensive units.
The Clemson Tigers have also cruised through the regular season in impressive fashion, and they put an exclamation point on things with an emphatic victory over the Pitt Panthers in the ACC championship game on Saturday night. Clemson entered the season with the expectation that the program would be contending for a national title once again, and the squad has lived up to those high hopes.
Bringing one of the top offenses in the nation and a stifling defense to the table serves as a recipe for success in the world of college football, and Clemson is guilty as charged on both counts.
Yes, that includes Alabama, but Clemson has some business to tend to before that’s even a consideration. They’ll be facing off with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the other semifinal. That game also takes place on Saturday, December 29, and it will be held at the GoodYear Cotton Bowl Classic. The winner moves onto the national title tilt, while the loser will enter the debate of who the third-best team in the nation really is.
Clemson has been installed as a 10.5-point favorite over Notre Dame at the open, but there has already been some action that has pushed the Tigers to 11-point favorites. Can they handle the Fighting Irish to advance to the title game? What about the hefty spread? The odds tell us that Clemson gets the W, but our perspective says that a tough Notre Dame team will go down swinging.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Current odds: +1400
An unblemished mark after a tough regular season schedule. Notre Dame doesn’t have the firepower of Alabama or Clemson, but the team’s offense and defense are both ranked in the Top 30 statistically.
The knock on Notre Dame in comparison to the other three semifinalists is that the Fighting Irish didn’t have to play an extra game on during championship week while the others did. The counter-argument to that says that Notre Dame’s schedule more than makes up for that. Think about it: each and every Fighting Irish game is an event that’s either broadcast by NBC or another major network.
The same can be said about its semifinal game versus Clemson. This may just be the toughest game the Fighting Irish have had on their plate since opening week when they took down Michigan by a score of 24-17. For another feather in the cap of Notre Dame, let’s also remember that the Wolverines are the #7 team in the nation as far as the College Football Playoff committee is concerned.
As we mentioned up above, Clemson is a big favorite for this contest, and rightfully so. They have the statistical edge over the Fighting Irish on both offense and defense, and the Tigers have lived up to their preseason billing and then some. That said, the Irish are far from pushovers. An upset over Clemson in the semifinal would be a surprise, but it’s certainly not out of the question.
Current odds: +1200
Champions of the Big 12 conference, the Sooners avenged their lone loss of the regular season in the title game versus Texas. Oklahoma has the most prolific offense in the country.
The final team to make it to the dance is the Oklahoma Sooners, who edged the #5 Georgia Bulldogs and the #6 Ohio State Buckeyes. While a valid argument can be made for any one of this trio of heavyweights, the committee made the right call. Oklahoma boasts the top offense in the nation, and they avenged their lone loss of the season by defeating the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 championship game.
The debate over whether or not they are worthy isn’t going to subside anytime between now and December 29, but the bottom line is that the Sooners have qualified while the others have not. For the most part, the Sooners have been able to bludgeon teams into defeat via their offensive prowess.
While the conference is known for shootouts, it appeared to enter a new realm in 2018. Even the conference champs found themselves in a number of back-and-forth affairs that looked like it would come down to who had the ball last. That could be a big problem in the playoffs, especially when we consider the strength of their semifinal opponent.
Alabama has the offensive chops to keep pace with Oklahoma, but they also have a defense that can make life difficult for their opponents. The Sooners can not make the latter claim. The Crimson Tide are rightfully installed as big favorites, but all bets are off if Oklahoma drags them into a Big 12 style shootout of a game. While we don’t see that happening, that scenario at least gives the Sooners a puncher’s chance.