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Wilson: 4 College Football National Title Longshots To Bet

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Khalil Tate

  • Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan and Georgia have championship odds of 10-1 or less.
  • A dark horse of at least 30-1 odds from the preseason has made the playoff the past three years.

In the four-year history of the College Football Playoff, only nine programs have made the semifinals, and only three programs have won it all (Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson).

Over the past three years, one team with preseason national-title odds of 25-1 or greater has made the playoff. With odds that high, it creates scenarios to guarantee profit no matter the team’s seeding.

In 2015, Michigan State was listed at 25-1 at most Las Vegas shops, and a few 40-1 tickets could be found at offshore books. That year the Spartans played Alabama in the Cotton Bowl in the semifinals, and even though the Crimson Tide were -9.5 favorites, there was still a chance to hedge out of a Spartans ticket.

In 2016, Washington was 66-1 before the season started. Last year, Georgia was 30-1 to win the title and was so a few plays from beating Alabama in the title game.

Here are this year’s odds. The usual suspects are up top.

The goal with a futures ticket at these odds is not necessarily to win the College Football Playoff, but to get in a position to guarantee a return on your investment. Here are four dark horse teams that can challenge for this season’s College Football Playoff.


Michigan State 30-1

There’s a lot to like about the team that returns more production than anyone in the country. The Spartans will need to upset Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, but they avoid Wisconsin and host the Buckeyes and Wolverines, so there’s a shot.


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If they can get to 11-1 with this schedule, they will get consideration from the selection committee. Coach Mark Dantonio is no stranger to getting to the playoff, and the Spartans have what it takes to make a run.

Notre Dame 30-1

The Irish do not have a conference championship game to muddy their situation, so if they go undefeated or 11-1, they will be favored by the selection committee for the playoff. I’m projecting Notre Dame to make a New Year’s Six Bowl, but a playoff appearance is an upset away.

Notre Dame starts the season with a game against Michigan, which could end up being its toughest opponent all season. The Irish should be favored against Stanford, USC and Virginia Tech. Florida State and Navy are definitely obstacles, but are winnable games.

Led by a defense that ranked in the top 25 against efficiency and explosiveness, Notre Dame makes a great dark horse contender.

Florida 100-1

Over in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks are 100-1 to win the title. Those are the same odds as Florida’s, which goes to show you how little the markets think of coach Dan Mullen’s chances in his first year. That may be true, but Mullen is no stranger to being an underdog.

The SEC media preseason poll picked Mississippi State to come in last annually, but Mullen finished in the cellar only once — in his first season with the Bulldogs. Florida was due for an attitude adjustment, and it looks like it has gotten one.

The good news is the Gators leave the Sunshine State just three times (Tennessee, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt), but the bad news is their schedule includes a home game against LSU and a neutral-site game against Georgia.

The game against UGA could provide an opportunity to hedge this ticket, and if the Gators manage to pull off a run and get to the SEC Championship Game (which is basically the College Football Playoff quarterfinals), we can hedge further.

Arizona 300-1

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate is one of the most electrifying players in the nation, and that means his offense will be explosive. He averaged 8.9 yards per pass attempt and 9.2 yards per carry while rushing for 1,411 yards.

Explosiveness drives college football, and Arizona ranked eighth overall in that category last year. Kevin Sumlin is the new coach, and his defense returns almost every single tackler from 2017. The Wildcats are 25th overall in returning production.

Arizona’s schedule is pretty easy, as the Wildcats avoid Stanford and Washington and host USC and Oregon. This is a huge longshot, but is there a chance that Arizona can make the Pac-12 title game with one loss?

If you think the answer is yes, then grab a piece of Arizona and set yourself up for a hedge in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

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