College Football Playoff Futures Odds & Predictions: How to Bet Before Tuesday’s Week 14 CFP Rankings Reveal
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: The College Football Playoff trophy.
Week 14 CFP Rankings Revealed Tuesday, Nov. 30
After weeks of preaching that investment value resides with Oklahoma State and Michigan, both teams find themselves controlling their own destiny.
The Cowboys came back to life after a flurry of mistakes to overcome Oklahoma. The Sooners have since lost their head coach in Lincoln Riley, along with a slew of blue-chip prospects.
This was the biggest win of Mike Gundy’s career, but that could change Saturday when the Pokes face Baylor for a chance to head to the College Football Playoff.
The committee saw something in Michigan to keep it ranked ahead of Michigan State even after a head-to-head defeat against the Spartans.
The Wolverines shut down the most explosive offense in the nation Saturday, limiting Ohio State and Heisman Trophy contender CJ Stroud. The offensive line and rushing attack duo of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum will surprisingly face Iowa for the chance to compete for a national title.
The Hawkeyes’ comeback win over Nebraska on Black Friday kept hopes of a West Division title alive as then Wisconsin laid an egg against Minnesota.
The best day of the weekend belonged to Cincinnati. A 22-point smashing of East Carolina was complemented by a dominant Houston win over UConn. Now, the Bearcats will get a College Football Playoff Top 25 team at home to win the AAC and build a solid case to compete in the semifinals.
Ohio State’s loss will pump Michigan into the final four, as Cincinnati will build an even stronger case with a move into the top three.
There’s a path to mass chaos, as Oklahoma State, Georgia and Michigan are all at least 5-point favorites in their respective conference championship games.
For a two-loss team to make the playoff, multiple upsets will be needed in Week 14. Using our “Four Commandments of the College Football Playoff,” the path to the Orange and Cotton Bowls are clear for all of the teams mentioned above.
With a 60-1 on Michigan, an 80-1 on Oklahoma State and a -110 on Georgia from previous columns in our back pocket, this column will take one final look for value at the board.
But first, 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. Georgia is the only remaining undefeated Power Five team in FBS. Even a loss in the SEC Championship would not deter the Bulldogs from the Orange or Cotton Bowl.
CFP Commandment No. 2:
“A one-loss Power Five conference champion is automatically in … barring a Purdue event.”
Note: Ohio State was left out of the 2018 College Football Playoff as a one-loss Big Ten champion. Alabama was selected as an at-large after taking its first loss in the SEC Championship game, while the Buckeyes could not recover from a 49-20 defeat at the hands of a 6-6 Purdue.
CFP Commandment No. 3:
“A two-loss Power Five conference champion cannot jump a one-loss team into the Playoff.”
Note: This precedent was set when Ohio State missed the playoff in 2017 as the Big Ten champion with losses to Oklahoma and Iowa.
Oregon, Wake Forest, Baylor, Pitt and Iowa all have the chance to win a championship this weekend. Iowa has the highest strength of record but needs every team in the ranking to lose.
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.
Under committee chairman Gary Barta, this commandment may be absolved after this weekend. Cincinnati is currently fourth in strength of record, trumping any potential two-loss Power Five champion such as Oregon, Wake Forest, Pitt, Baylor, or Iowa.
The 4 Paths to the 2021 College Football Playoff
Bracket No. 1: SEC Championship
Contenders: Georgia & Alabama
The Bulldogs were +275 in the preseason to win the SEC and now sit at 6.5-point favorites to beat the Crimson Tide.
As the moneyline on the SEC Championship game is -260 on Georgia, the number to win the national title is -220. Nick Saban could beat Kirby Smart by 50, and it will have no bearing on Georgia making the College Football Playoff.
The biggest question is what the true odds are of Georgia winning the National Championship if the SEC title game has no meaning.
The Bulldogs would be a minimum 12-point favorite over the trio of Oklahoma State, Cincinnati and Michigan. A spread of -12 equates to a moneyline of -500 or higher, with a parlay of two -500 tickets coming out to approximately -228.
There’s value in the Georgia -220 to win the National Championship game, under the assumption the power rating does not take a hit in the SEC Championship game.
Alabama is a similar story. It projects anywhere from a 5-to-9-point favorite over Oklahoma State, Cincinnati and Michigan. If that trio of teams composed a semifinal and championship game, a proper moneyline is +122 for the Crimson Tide.
Unfortunately for Saban’s squad, winning the SEC Championship may be a requirement for the committee to include Alabama in the Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl. Recent stumbles against Auburn and Arkansas may create a slide on Tuesday night down to the No. 4 ranking for the playoff.
When a moneyline in the SEC Championship game is factored in, Alabama’s true odds jump to +620. This is in line with a market number of +650 but continues to be a pass for investment.
These Alabama projections are based on a win in the SEC Championship game and avoiding Georgia in the playoff. That path would boost the Crimson Tide’s true value over 10-1.
Bracket No. 2: Big Ten East
A number that was 80-1 just a couple of weeks ago has moved all the way to +850 for the National Championship.
Michigan is now more than a -400 favorite to beat Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game, indicating a catastrophe would need to happen to keep the Wolverines out of the playoff.
The projected path for the national title would include Georgia and a combination of Cincinnati or Oklahoma State. Michigan would be a favorite of five points over the Cowboys and Bearcats, but a head-to-head matchup with Georgia would make Wolverines double-digit underdogs.
A parlay of Iowa and then Oklahoma State or Cincinnati has true odds of -115 for Michigan. The game against Georgia is where the number inflates for the Wolverines, jumping to 10-1 odds to break through against the Bulldogs.
Most oddsmakers list Michigan at +850, giving no value with a projected path that includes Georgia. Any number better than 10-1 deserves consideration.
Bracket No. 3: Big 12
Contenders: Oklahoma State
When a rivalry game produces a victory and subsequent coaching change on the other sideline, a program is headed in the right direction.
After years of struggling to find the right offensive chemistry after Mike Yurcich left Stillwater, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has built the best defense in the country outside of Georgia.
The Cowboys are now in the driver’s seat for the playoff, just a touch less than a touchdown favorite against Baylor in Arlington.
The Oklahoma State moneyline in the Big 12 Championship ranges from -190 to -210. Those will be the best numbers the Pokes have if Mike Gundy’s team is playoff-bound.
The Cowboys would be a pick against Cincinnati and a 5-point underdog to Michigan. The biggest gap in the College Football Playoff projections would be Oklahoma State against Georgia with a spread around -17 in favor of the Bulldogs.
Taking the toughest path possible with Baylor, Michigan and Georgia gives Oklahoma State true odds of 38-1 to win it all. The 14-1 number in the current market is outrageously overpriced, as an open parlay card would serve an investor a better return.
Bracket No. 4: Wild Card
Contenders: Georgia, Alabama, Cincinnati, Notre Dame & Iowa
The wild card bracket has dwindled down to just a few teams for the right to compete for the National Championship.
This slot in the semifinals is a catch-all for chaos if Iowa and Baylor were able to pull off upsets in their conference championship games.
There will be a pecking order if a number of nonlinear chaos events happen over the course of Week 14.
Our Four Commandments of the CFP will serve as our guidance heading into conference championship week.
Georgia Loses the SEC Championship
The Auburn defense recorded seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss against the Alabama offensive line in the Iron Bowl. The Bulldogs are ninth in Defensive Havoc and 13th in pass rush, both indicators that Alabama has a slim chance of winning in Atlanta this weekend.
If the Crimson Tide are to pull off the upset of the season, Georgia would still be favored over the remaining 129 FBS teams and guaranteed a spot in the playoff.
Alabama Loses the SEC Championship
No two-loss team has ever made the College Football Playoff, but an Alabama team with a resume that includes losses away from Tuscaloosa against Texas A&M and Georgia may potentially get the Crimson Tide a second game against the Bulldogs.
The all-important strength of record would come into play, where Alabama is currently ranked third with no expectations of a drop after playing Georgia.
Cincinnati Goes Undefeated and Wins the AAC
There are no bigger fans of the Georgia Bulldogs than Luke Fickell’s team. The Bearcats will remain in the CFP top four this week but could be elbowed out if Michigan, Oklahoma and Alabama win this weekend.
Because Cincinnati’s inclusion is not based on performance on the field, the current odds of 16-1 are a tough measurement. Assuming the path for the Bearcats is Houston, Georgia and Michigan, true odds on Cincinnati winning the championship are 31-1.
But that’s only the mathematical side of the Bearcats’ odds, as the Group of Five team still needs an assist from the committee just to enter the race.
Notre Dame After Conference Championship Chaos
The Irish have never been included in this column for a number of reasons. Notre Dame is sixth in strength of record and 50th in strength of schedule, both a factor for the committee.
The loss to Cincinnati will always keep the Irish at least a spot back of the Bearcats, putting a low ceiling on the hopes of Notre Dame. The Irish do not have a conference championship game, a bullet point that will be discussed as resumes become finalized for the committee on Sunday morning.
The Irish would need a number of factors for inclusion to the playoff. Cincinnati must be a No. 3 seed or higher, while Michigan and Oklahoma State must take a loss.
The almighty strength of record would give a two-loss Alabama a nod over Notre Dame, forcing the committee to take a two-loss team for the first time in playoff history.
The odds of 25-1 do not accurately reflect the actions needed to get Notre Dame into the playoff, much less win it all.
Iowa Wins Big Ten, Baylor beats Oklahoma State, Georgia Blows Out Alabama
There will be a number of two-win teams ready to slip into the playoff if mass chaos hits college football in Week 14. The best two-loss team on the board not named Alabama would be Iowa as a Big Ten champion.
The Hawkeyes have a strength of record rank of 10th, bound to be boosted with a date in Indianapolis against Michigan.
Iowa would certainly need other spots to open after defeating Michigan. Baylor would need to knock Oklahoma State out of the top four, while Alabama must lose convincingly enough for the committee to keep the two-loss Tide out of the playoff.
Iowa cannot hop Georgia or AAC champion Cincinnati under any circumstances. Overcoming a one-loss Notre Dame is also improbable, as the Irish have a superior strength of record.
Iowa’s true odds of defeating Michigan, Georgia and then a possible title game against Notre Dame or Cincinnati have true odds of 98-1. In a vacuum, the 100-1 number has value, but the probability of getting into the playoff make Iowa’s chances astronomical.