The third edition of the College Football Playoff rankings came out Tuesday night and nothing has changed with the top teams. The top seven programs survive, so we don’t really have enough drama in terms of the CFP committee’s big decision.
We could, though. There is a real possibility that everyone except Georgia will end up with two losses. We have never had a two-losing team in the final four, but this could be the year it happens. If Cincinnati loses to SMU, East Carolina or Houston, a loss would eliminate the Bearcats from the equation and, in theory, weaken Notre Dame’s standing in the committee’s view.
Ohio State is a bigger favorite than Michigan State this week and a smaller road favorite in Ann Arbor in two weeks. Alabama may lose and still enter the Georgia SEC Championship game. If the Buckeyes run the table, Michigan and Michigan State lose a second, and Oregon also runs the table, Georgia will beat Alabama at No. 2. Who gets the 4 position?
At this point, I’m convinced Alabama gets a two-loss, other than a blowout loss to Georgia. Here are the top eight (title odds from BetMGM) in the official rankings.
1. Georgia (-120): We now know Georgia is a 3-point favorite in Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Georgia College will lose the Football Playoff in that game, maybe -120 is not a bad bet right now. The Bulldogs are favored by more projections than Oregon, and perhaps more than two touchdown favorites, with a touchdown against Ohio State.
2. Alabama (7/2): Alabama is still the second favorite on the board, but the path to winning the title is tough. The Iron Bowl is less interesting when Auburn’s Bo Nicks is injured.
Alabama can still get a back door into the final four with a loss against Georgia, especially close. It tells me that Mississippi State is the only ranked team with four losses, and if the push comes to shove, the committee will try to justify a two-loss Alabama over Cincinnati.
3. Oregon Ducks (20/1): Oregon is the fourth pick at 25/1, but is far away from Ohio State at 4/1 and the top two teams in the CFP rankings. The Ducks are heading to Utah this week, which means December. If the two meet again on May 3, they will be roughly elected in Las Vegas.
The price seems to be getting better as the Ducks control their own fate, with the moneyline rollover pushing you from the conference championship game to 5/1 and maybe just 25/1. Leave the first semifinal match, the title match.
4. Ohio State (4/1): The Buckeyes control their destiny. Win and they’ll beat No. 6 Alabama Georgia. No. 3 if not beat the No. 3 seed and Alabama. Most likely to get a 2 ranking. Assuming that Wisconsin represents the West Division, despite the head-to-head result with Oregon, the Buckeyes have two top-10 wins and another top-15 win.
4/1 The price isn’t so good. The Buckeyes could very well slip up and they would draw a tough 2-vs.-3 game in the semifinals and then lose to Georgia or Alabama in the final. It is better not to make your money now. Expect what Ohio State’s line is before the playoffs and see if the Buckeyes get there.
5. Cincinnati (40/1): Cincinnati is not in a bad position right now to enter the playoffs. Oklahoma and Wake Forest are out of the picture. If Notre Dame gives Cincinnati a head-to-head win over the Bearcats, there is hell to pay in the court of public opinion and with all five conferences.
But while Cincinnati may be a shock to a playoff team, it’s a big question to shock the two. 40/1 is a fancy number, but not worth playing.
6. Michigan (30/1): If you are going to invest in the Wolverines we hope you boarded the Michigan train at 60/1 last week. With Penn State out, it comes into play against the Buckeyes. Michigan favors the Big Ten championship game, though not as much as Ohio State.
This is a team with a really decent chance to upset the CFP image. At this point the value is extracted from the number, though. Hope you are holding that 60/1 ticket.
7. Michigan State Spartans (50/1): It basically comes to Michigan State this weekend. The loss and dream against the highly favored Buckeyes is dead. Given the large number of 19 and the underlying concerns about sparty protection, I have no way to invest in any of them right now. Like Oregon, the MoneyLine rollover is any good game.
8. Notre Dame (100/1): Wins over Georgia Tech and Stanford shouldn’t move the needle, and the Notre Dame Conference championship game won’t be enough to score points at the end of the season. Honestly, this team has no business in the Top 10 with scheduling and is just a quality win, but the dollar signs speak. There is no equity in making this bet, because there are so many things that have to happen for Notre Dame to get there.