College Football Playoff Futures: How to Bet Before Week 11 CFP Rankings Reveal (Nov. 9)

College Football Playoff Futures: How to Bet Before Week 11 CFP Rankings Reveal (Nov. 9) article feature image
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Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The College Football Playoff logo on a pylon.

Week 11 CFP Rankings Revealed Tuesday, Nov. 9

The College Football Playoff committee is under new management, now led by Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta. Time will tell if the newest members have learned from the mistakes of the past.

In the initial rankings of 2014, three of the top four teams did not make the playoff. Conversely, last season was the first time the top four in the initial rankings all made the semifinals.

Tuesday night will see at least one of the top four teams removed after Michigan State lost its first game of the season to Purdue.

The Spartans were not the only team to suffer defeat in Week 10, as Wake Forest, Baylor and Auburn all took a loss as top-15 teams.

Using our “Four Commandments of the College Football Playoff,” the Demon Deacons have little to no chance of making the Cotton Bowl or Orange Bowl to compete for the national title. A strength of schedule rank of 85th will doom Wake Forest in the eyes of the committee.

Another point of interest is Cincinnati’s spot in the rankings, as the Bearcats sit second in the AP Poll but 15th in The Action Network Betting Power Ratings.

The Bearcats have failed to cover the spread or go over the total in three consecutive games against Tulsa, Tulane and Navy. A cover against 2-7 South Florida in Week 11 may not do enough to save a Cincinnati season destined for a New Year’s Six Bowl and not the playoff.

The Bearcats are not the only team with trouble, as Alabama and Ohio State also had non-covering efforts against LSU and Nebraska, respectively.

The biggest question is which team will slide into the top four following the Michigan State loss.

Oklahoma enjoyed a bye week and remains undefeated with the beef of the Big 12 schedule coming in the next three weeks. Michigan continued to steamroll lesser Big Ten teams with a convincing cover against Indiana.

Finally, will undefeated UTSA receive acknowledgment from the playoff committee after electing to rank Minnesota and Fresno State in the initial rankings?

Before we find investment value ahead of the new rankings reveal, the Four Commandments of the College Football Playoff must be reviewed:


The College Football Playoff’s Four Commandments

For those wondering what the College Football Playoff’s Four Commandments are, here’s a refresher:

CFP Commandment No. 1:

“An undefeated Power Five conference champion is automatically in.”

Note: We have never had five undefeated Power Five champions. Oklahoma and Georgia are the only remaining teams to meet this criterion.

CFP Commandment No. 2:

“A one-loss Power Five conference champion is automatically in.”

Note: No one-loss conference champion has ever been left out of the playoff. Wake Forest, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State currently meet this criterion.

CFP Commandment No. 3:

“A one-loss Power Five at-large with a better strength of record trumps a two-loss Power Five conference champion.”

Note: This precedent was set when Alabama missed the SEC Championship in 2017 and was slotted ahead of two-loss Big Ten Champion Ohio State. Michigan has a current strength of record in the top 10, and a win against Ohio State could send the Wolverines to the playoff.

CFP Commandment No. 4:

“A two-loss Power Five team trumps an undefeated Group of Five team with the right strength of record.”

Note: UCF finished 2018 undefeated but was passed by two-loss Michigan and Georgia. Cincinnati continued to fall in the 2020 rankings, as three-loss Florida and two-loss Oklahoma passed the Bearcats. Texas A&M’s placement against Cincinnati’s in the current rankings should be monitored.


Myriad Paths to the College Football Playoff

Chaos is always a part of college football, as there are dozens of paths in the month of November.

The chaos could be endless, but here is our look at the four playoff berths and a bracket approach to determining the participants in the Orange and Sugar Bowls.

SEC Champion
Big Ten East
Wild Card (SEC)
Big 12 Champion
Wild Card (Other)

Bracket No. 1: SEC Championship

Contenders: Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M

Auburn was on this list as a two-loss team last week, as an outside chance to win the Iron Bowl would’ve sent the Tigers to the SEC Championship Game. That was contingent on a win at Texas A&M, but a Bo Nix mistake and an inability to generate points has Auburn out of the national title picture.

Now, the Aggies have an outside shot of making the conference title game, contingent on an Auburn win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl. A Texas A&M wager on the national title has far more factors than simply winning out, giving the 100-1 odds at DraftKings no value.

Ultimately, Georgia is in the College Football Playoff. As one of the few undefeated Power Five teams left, the Bulldogs have built enough credit to take a loss.

Tennessee, as a three-touchdown underdog, presents the last remaining hurdle in conference play.

The recent play of Alabama generates the question of whether or not Georgia will be challenged. The Crimson Tide were stuffed on 14-of-22 rushing attempts against LSU. The offensive line also failed to protect quarterback Bryce Young, allowing eight pressures and five sacks.

At +360 (DraftKings) to win the National Championship, Alabama has no value in the futures market as a projected five-point underdog in the conference championship game against Georgia.

The Bulldogs do still hold the tiniest bit of value at -110 to win the national title, projected as a potential 15.5-point favorite over Oregon in the semifinals.


Bracket No. 2: Big Ten East

Contenders: Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan

The Spartans’ loss to Purdue did nothing to change the outlook of the Big Ten East. Michigan State will play the underdog role to finish the season against Ohio State and Penn State. A victory in both games will guarantee a spot in the Big Ten Championship game potentially against a top-25 team in Wisconsin.

The loss to Purdue gave the Spartans no slack in the loss column, requiring Mel Tucker’s team to win four straight to make the playoff. Michigan State’s true odds of winning the conference reside at 40-1, giving no value to the 70-1 number offered to win the National Championship.

The path for Michigan is currently clouded with a loss to Michigan State. The Wolverines are projected six-point underdogs in the regular-season finale against Ohio State.

If the Spartans lose again, Michigan will dictate its own path for head coach Jim Harbaugh’s first-ever playoff appearance.

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The Wolverines have true odds of 13-1 to win the Big Ten by sweeping its remaining schedule and picking up a win over potential West winner Wisconsin.

An underdog role to Georgia would push those odds over the current listed 60-1, but of all the numbers on the board, the Wolverines have plenty of value.

The Buckeyes failed to cover another conference game, beating Penn State and Nebraska by less than 10 points over the past two weeks. The defense continues to struggle to get teams behind schedule, allowing more than the national average in Success Rate to opponents on standard downs.

Another issue for the Ohio State defense is allowing too many explosive drives, an area the defense continues to work on with defensive backs coach Matt Barnes calling plays. With national title odds at +450, the Buckeyes are not an advised investment.


Bracket No. 3: Big 12 Champion

Contenders: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State 

Oklahoma enjoyed a bye week and remains at 14-1 to win the College Football Playoff. The Sooners can afford a loss on the remaining schedule of Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State and still win the conference title.

Only the Cowboys have one conference loss, meaning the Sooners would have to drop two of the remaining three to potentially miss the Big 12 Championship in Arlington.

Oklahoma will be favored in every game until the national semifinals, giving its current double-digit odds value.

Baylor’s loss to TCU all but seals its fate at the national level with current 300-1 odds of winning the playoff. The Bears would need an outright victory over Oklahoma and subsequent help from Oklahoma State to win the Big 12.

The Cowboys flexed defensive muscle in a 24-3 victory over West Virginia. Head coach Mike Gundy will be a minimum touchdown favorite over the next two weeks before a must-win in back-to-back weeks against Oklahoma. The Sooners will be three-point favorites in Stillwater and projected 5.5-point favorites in Arlington.

The Cowboys have 100-1 odds, a number that would be met with an open parlay card against Oklahoma twice and a potential moneyline against Georgia in the semifinals.


Bracket No. 4: Wild Card

Contenders: Wake Forest, Georgia, Michigan, Texas A&M, Oregon, Alabama and Cincinnati

The endless opportunities to win the fourth and final seed for the College Football Playoff had a reshuffle through Week 10.

Our Four Commandments must be followed, and with Wake Forest’s loss to North Carolina there is certainly a different pecking order as to who will slip into the last spot of the Playoff.


1.

Georgia Loses the SEC Championship

The SEC Championship will have a shorter point spread than any potential national semifinal game, as the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide rank first and second, respectively, in The Action Network Power Ratings.

Georgia is all but guaranteed to make the playoff, barring an unlikely loss through the month of November.


2.

Oregon Sweeps its Remaining Schedule

With 25-1 odds, the Ducks jumped one hurdle with plenty more remaining to make the playoff.

Washington State should not present much of a challenge to Oregon in Week 11, but the potential to face Utah twice in three weeks surrounds the Civil War game with Oregon State.

The Ducks will be three-point underdogs at Rice-Eccles, giving no value to their current national title numbers.


3.

Michigan Sweeps its Remaining Schedule; Michigan State Beats Ohio State

The 2017 Alabama scenario didn’t include an SEC Championship game appearance before it moved on to the playoff and winning the national title as a four-seed.

Michigan has a similar path with a loss to Michigan State. If the Spartans are able to beat Ohio State, the Wolverines have the 2017 Crimson Tide path by beating the Buckeyes and not making the Big Ten Championship game.

By placing seventh in the initial rankings, Michigan has fantastic odds of reaching the playoff if there are no further losses.


4.

Texas A&M Wins the SEC Championship

This scenario falls into the two-loss area, as the Aggies need help from Auburn in the Iron Bowl to make a trip to Atlanta to compete for the conference crown.

The committee has never selected a two-loss team, but a Texas A&M victory over Georgia with a previous win over Alabama would give Jimbo Fisher the best resume in college football.


5.

Alabama Loses the SEC Championship

Staying in two-loss territory, Alabama needs plenty of other Power Five programs to have more than a single defeat for a realistic chance at the playoff.


6.

One-Loss Wake Forest Wins the ACC

The Demon Deacons have the potential to be passed over by a one-loss at-large like Michigan because of the all-important strength of record number.

Wake Forest will be without a resume-building win, as this weekend’s game against top-25 NC State is the highest ranking of any opponent this season.


7.

Cincinnati Goes Undefeated and Wins the AAC

The numbers continue to elude the Bearcats, who now rank outside the top 100 in strength of schedule and 68th in remaining strength of schedule. A record of 5-4 against the spread doesn’t capture the “eye appeal” that some media analysts cite as a requirement to make the semifinals.

Notre Dame does continue to win, but Indiana’s 2-7 record has become more of a downgrade to Cincinnati. The Bearcats also aren’t receiving any help from the AAC, as SMU remains on the schedule but has suffered consecutive losses.

The Bearcats list at 50-1 odds to win the National Championship but have odds far greater to even reach the national semifinal.

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