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TCU the Longest Preseason Longshot to Reach College Football Playoff

TCU the Longest Preseason Longshot to Reach College Football Playoff article feature image
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Getty Images. Design by Matt Roembke/Action Network. Pictured: TCU quarterback Max Duggan.

Welcome to the ninth installment of the College Football Playoff.

This version of college football’s mini tournament features for the third time in its history, a team listed at 100-1 or higher to win it all in the preseason in the final four.

Both teams prior to this year came in last year’s College Football Playoff.

Cincinnati entered the year at 150-1 to win it all. It ran the table, going 13-0 to start the year, and became the first non-power conference team to secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.

On the other side of the bracket, Michigan opened the year at 100-1 and went 12-1, with its only loss coming to Michigan State before reaching the playoff.

Cincinnati lost to Alabama. Michigan lost to Georgia. And the dream was dead for anyone holding 150-1 and 100-1 tickets.

Now, it’s TCU’s turn.

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Longest Odds in History

The Horned Frogs were 200-1 in the preseason to win the National Championship, making them the biggest longshot to make the dance since the playoff’s inception in 2014.

Longest Preseason Title Odds — Teams to Reach College Football Playoff

  • 200-1, TCU 2022
  • 150-1, Cincinnati 2021 (L Semis)
  • 100-1, Michigan 2021 (L Semis)
  • 50-1, Michigan 2022
  • 40-1, Ohio State 2014 (Won Title)
  • 30-1, Notre Dame 2018 (L Semis)
  • 30-1, Clemson 2017 (L Semis)
  • 30-1, Washington 2016 (L Semis)
  • 30-1, Oklahoma 2015 (L Semis)

Six of the previous seven teams to reach the College Football Playoff with odds of 30-1 or higher lost in the semifinal, with the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes being the lone team to make it to the title game, which they ended up winning.

In the preseason, TCU’s odds of 200-1 to win it all were shared by these teams as well (finishing record on moneyline):

  • Iowa State: 4-8 SU
  • West Virginia: 5-7 SU
  • Louisiana: 6-7 SU
  • Utah State: 6-7 SU


How We Got Here

If you’re looking for a bigger underdog than TCU, you only have to go back to the BCS to find a longshot that came just short.

In 2013, behind quarterback Nick Marshall and head coach Gus Malzahn, Auburn opened the season as 500-1 longshots to win it all after going 3-9 and 0-8 in the SEC the year before.

The Tigers made it all the way to the title game in the final year of the BCS before losing to Jameis Winston and Florida State in virtually the final seconds.

📅 Jan. 6, 2014: On this date 6 years ago — The BCS came to an end…

Auburn vs. Florida State (-12 | O/U: 67)

Down 31-27 w/17 sec left .. It was Jameis for the perfect season 📽️: pic.twitter.com/f3mG89uN50

— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) January 6, 2020

Biggest Longshots to Cash

Going back to 2001 using Sports Odds History’s data, the longest odds for a team to eventually win it all goes to 2010 Auburn, which was 50-1 in the preseason.

Auburn was 11-0, being listed as favorites in all 11 games before being posted as a 4.5-point underdog against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The game ended up being referred to as the “Camback.”

Throwback to Cam Newton's 24-point comeback against Alabama in the 2010 Iron Bowl. pic.twitter.com/7lxFty3X4v

— SportsTalkFeed (@SportsTalkFeed) April 2, 2020

Cam Newton led Auburn from down 24-0 to a 28-27 win on the road in the Iron Bowl, and the Tigers ended up winning it all two games later against Oregon.

No matter who wins the Fiesta Bowl between Michigan and TCU, we could see history in the title game with a team that sat at either 200-1 or 50-1 in the preseason winning it all.

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