The first set of College Football Playoff rankings hit the board about two weeks ago, and right away, there was a problem: One-loss Texas A&M Aggies were No. 4, and the undefeated Washington Huskies were on the outside at No. 5. The Aggies ended up losing to Mississippi State last week, and Washington beat the California Golden Bears 66-27, so everything’s cool now: The Huskies made it into last week’s CFP rankings at No. 4.
There’s one important takeaway from this debacle: The heartland of America is in charge. Of college football, that is. Even with the CFP in place, the SEC holds far more sway over the Football Bowl Subdivision than the other conferences – especially the Pac-12 out West. You can see that inflated sense of entitlement on the NCAAF futures market, where the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide are overvalued, and the remaining CFP contenders are all available at bargain prices.
- Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0 SU, 7-2 ATS)
- Clemson Tigers (9-0 SU, 5-4 ATS)
- Michigan Wolverines (9-0 SU, 5-4 ATS)
- Washington Huskies (9-0 SU, 5-4 ATS)
By every reasonable metric, the defending national champions are the best team in the FBS. But as +110 favorites to win yet another title under Nick Saban, the Tide bear the burden of unreasonably high expectations. They’ll probably make it into the playoffs even if they lose to No. 9 Auburn in the Iron Bowl; after that, ‘Bama still have to beat two of the following three teams, or whoever replaces them in the final CFP rankings.
Clemson is the fourth favorites at +750 on the NCAAF odds board, and that’s a very generous payout should the Tigers win the title. They’ve already beaten Auburn, Georgia Tech and Florida State on the road. They also put down then-No. 3 Louisville as 1-point home dogs. Don’t sleep on the Tigers’ defense just because they’re in the ACC.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is weaving his magic again. The Wolverines are a popular program, and they’re still available at +500, even though there isn’t that much difference in quality between Michigan and Alabama. People just don’t take Harbaugh seriously enough. He’s an interesting character, but an even better football coach.
If a tree falls in the Pacific Northwest, does anybody hear it? It’s been 15 years since the Huskies played in a major bowl game, but they’re back in contention in Year Three under head coach Chris Petersen, who led the Boise State Broncos to victory at the 2007 and 2010 Fiesta Bowls. Remarkably, Washington is fifth on the futures market at +900, and the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes (8-1 SU, 5-4 ATS) are the second favorites at +475. Bet accordingly