The college football AP Poll came out on Monday, and here’s a fun fact: most of the voters don’t watch a ton of college football.
They’re beat writers stuck at one stadium with limited TV access almost every Saturday during the fall and they rely greatly on perception.
That’s why the AP Poll looks so different from national-title odds offered by sportsbooks.
Here’s the Top 25 poll, compared to national-title odds.
AP Top 25 Poll Compared to National-Title Odds
All odds from 5Dimes on Aug. 20. Odds equal to a $100 bet, so a $100 bet on Alabama would yield $210.
There are a few interesting takeaways from these rankings-to-odds discrepancies. They follow the same basic tenet — only a handful of teams can actually win the national title.
Talent wins out in college football, so teams such as TCU, Mississippi State and West Virginia are major longshots despite their Top 25 rankings because they haven’t recruited like Alabama, Clemson or Georgia.
It’s also nearly impossible for a Group of 5 team to reach the College Football Playoff. That’s why Boise State and UCF are north of 250-1, while unranked Nebraska and Arizona have much better odds.
Wisconsin is No. 4 in the nation, its highest-ever ranking in the preseason. But the Badgers are about 28-1 to win the national title. That’s eighth-best odds.
Texas is No. 23 and along with Miami has the 13th-best championship odds at 50-1. LSU and Florida State fit a similar criteria — rosters with elite talent that haven’t been fully tapped yet.
The general public is down on Michigan because of the perception that Jim Harbaugh has underachieved. But the Wolverines return the sixth-most production of any Power 5 team, and Harbaugh has recruited at a high level. Michigan is No. 14, but has the sixth-best title odds at 18-1.
Stanford and Miami are two teams that voters like more than oddsmakers. The Hurricanes are due to regress in 2018, while Stanford’s defense was atrocious last season.