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College Football Playoff Futures Odds, Predictions for Week 13: Does Value Remain on Clemson, USC?

College Football Playoff Futures Odds, Predictions for Week 13: Does Value Remain on Clemson, USC? article feature image
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David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.

There may not have been a bigger shake-up of top-15 teams all season than what transpired during Week 12.

Tennessee was a shoo-in to make the playoff with Michigan and Ohio State scheduled to play in Week 13. The Volunteers were sitting in a great position as TCU struggled in Waco, trailing Baylor for much of Saturday afternoon.

In a span of six hours, everything changed for Tennessee. TCU beat Baylor on a last-minute field goal, and the Volunteers were upset at the hands of South Carolina.

Tennessee was not the only team to see its playoff hopes take a hit, as the ACC now only has Clemson left in the picture after Georgia Tech took down North Carolina.

The Pac-12 “semifinals” left USC and Oregon standing to compete for the conference title. The Trojans are sure to be the first in line to make the playoff after Michigan travels to Ohio State.

The shake-up also paves the way for the first-ever two-loss team to make the playoff, as LSU simply needs to win as two-touchdown underdogs against Georgia to play in the Fiesta Bowl or Peach Bowl.

As we get into our “Four Commandments of the College Football Playoff,” we wave goodbye to Tennessee and North Carolina after both teams suffered their second loss of the season to South Carolina and Georgia Tech, respectively.

Those losses are sure to keep the resume behind those of other two-loss programs such as Penn State and Oregon.

As the list of title contenders shrinks, the playoff picture becomes clearer with the final week of the regular season remaining.

The “Four Commandments of the College Football Playoff” serve as a roadmap to the national semifinal, detecting value in futures before the committee releases its rankings.

The goal of this column is to find the best betting value before each Tuesday checkpoint when the committee updates its rankings.

This column previously jumped on a pair of 16-1 wagers on Michigan and Tennessee.

Before looking at the current futures, the “Four Commandments of the College Football Playoff” will help identify value before this week’s rankings are released.


CFP Commandment No. 1

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

Note: We have never had five undefeated Power Five champions. TCU, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State serve as the last of the undefeateds in their respective conferences.


CFP Commandment No. 2

“A one-loss Power Five conference champion is automatically in… barring a Purdue-esque 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 couldn’t recover from a 49-20 defeat at the hands of a 6-6 Purdue team.

USC currently meets this criterion. A one-point loss on the road to Utah will be forgiven.

Clemson has a single loss to Notre Dame, the team the Trojans must beat to stay in the national title picture. A continued path up the rankings for the Irish is beneficial to the Trojans and Tigers.


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 CFP in 2017 as the Big Ten champion with losses to Oklahoma and Iowa. There are no current two-loss teams with favorable odds to win a Power Five conference, as LSU projects as a 14.5-point underdog to Georgia.


CFP Commandment No. 4

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

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.

In 2021, Cincinnati made the College Football Playoff because of a head-to-head victory over No. 5 Notre Dame, while No. 6 Ohio State was not selected as a two-loss team after a head-to-head loss against No. 2 Michigan and No. 14 Oregon.

The winner of Tulane and Cincinnati will be the highest-ranked non-Power Five team.


SEC Champion
Big Ten East
Big 12 Champion
Pac-12 / ACC

Bracket 1: SEC Championship

Contenders: Georgia, LSU

No changes come to this side of the bracket after Georgia survived a brawl in a phone booth with Kentucky and LSU covered against UAB.

The Bulldogs’ odds moved to -140 to win the National Championship — beyond the price of a hypothetical parlay of Ohio State and TCU.

LSU has the tougher road ahead as a 10-point favorite over Texas A&M and a two-touchdown underdog to Georgia in the conference championship. The hypothetical parlay card that includes beating Georgia twice with Ohio State exceeds the current 35-1 odds posted.

Keep tabs on the Ohio State-Michigan game this weekend, as a Buckeyes loss would put an Ohio State playoff appearance in doubt. Without Ohio State in the playoff, Georgia’s odds would receive an immediate boost.


Bracket 2: Big Ten East

Contenders: Ohio State, Michigan

Week 12 was not kind to Michigan, which needed a late field goal to beat Illinois at home.

The bigger problem could be the health of several key players. The biggest name is running back Blake Corum, who suffered a knee injury against the Illini. Corum returned for a single snap but was held out of the remainder of the game.

Ohio State is taking plenty of tickets for “The Game” with an opening spread above a touchdown.

The correct odds are +375 for Ohio State to beat Michigan, win the Big Ten and win a couple of playoff games that includes Georgia.

Michigan has moved in the futures market up to 10-1, but its true odds of beating Ohio State and completing the path above are 15-1.


Bracket 3: Big 12 Champion

Contenders: TCU

Congratulations are in order for TCU.

The Horned Frogs continue to be a thorn in the side of oddsmakers after blowing out Texas and sidestepping a Baylor upset. The Frogs are now two victories away from entering the College Football Playoff as an undefeated conference champion.

A spread as a double-digit favorite awaits TCU this weekend when it hosts Iowa State before a trip to Arlington.

Kansas State will make the Big 12 Championship with a victory over Kansas in the final week. TCU will be a favorite of a field goal or less against the Wildcats.

Projecting the toughest path possible includes Ohio State and Georgia, bumping TCU’s true odds to win the national title to a whopping 48-1. Its true odds to win the Big 12 fall at -105, making the Horned Frogs a better value pick in the conference championship rather than the 18-1 for the national title.


Bracket 4: Pac-12 & ACC

Contenders: USC, Clemson

Both Tennessee and North Carolina have taken themselves out of the running for the national title. Now, there are two clear one-loss favorites who can win a conference title.

USC Beats Notre Dame, Wins Pac-12

The Trojans survived a trip to the Rose Bowl, earning a victory over UCLA and a berth in the Pac-12 Championship game.

USC will make the trip to Las Vegas on Dec. 2, but it must beat Notre Dame this week to stay in national title contention. The Fighting Irish continue to climb the playoff rankings, potentially giving USC the resume boost needed to slip into the top four after the Ohio State-Michigan game.

While the path is clear for the Trojans, the odds are not. A parlay of Notre Dame and Oregon at a neutral compute to odds of 2-1 to finish the season with one loss.

Projected moneyline numbers against Georgia and Ohio State move the odds closer to 50-1 to win the National Championship. The Trojans are inflated in the market at 25-1.

Clemson Beats South Carolina, Wins ACC

Clemson is a large favorite over South Carolina and projects to be a nine-point favorite over North Carolina. The Tigers have a much easier path to the playoff than USC with -200 odds to win their final two games.

Projected playoff games with Ohio State and Georgia bump the odds to 20-1 for Clemson, giving value to the 22-1 number in the market.

An easy hedge for this ticket comes in USC’s games. A one-unit wager on an open parlay card that features USC against Notre Dame and Oregon would be needed along with the Clemson future.

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