2018 National Championship Futures: Early Betting Advice

So that’s it then, the end of the 2017 college football season. What a ride! Time to settle in, put some slippers on, wonder what Jon Gruden could possibly spend $100 million on, and read a book. Or we could look at the just-released 2018 futures cards and try to find early value. Let’s do that!

The odds vary a bit from site to site, and we’ll go over some of the significant differences below, but here is the odds-list currently on offer at our top-rated sportsbook, Bovada.

Bovada's odds
Taken from Bovada on 1/10/2018

The Favorite

Briefly: Alabama’s odds are hilariously short

It’s not really surprising, considering that the Nick Saban Death Star Deluxe has now won a national title for every class it has ever recruited, but some of these odds are just silly. MyBookie has the Tide at +140, which — I’m doing a Stephen A Smith voice now — to me, is PREPOSTEROUS. I chuckled a bit when they were +300 last preseason, but it’s only a bad bet if they lose, I guess.

Sportsbetting.ag has the right idea with their national title futures, listing only Alabama (+220) and FIELD (-280). It’s amazing that they’ll let you fade one program that way. Futures bets generally maintain profitability by being real short on their most popular bets and diffusing the value that creates between dozens of others, but betting on Alabama is like betting on the casino. If you think the Tide have a slimmer than 27% chance of winning their millionth national title next year, there’s value there. I understand if you think otherwise.

Oklahoma Sooner Wagon
Nobody knows where this wagon is going! (Photo: John Silks (CC License))

2017’s Elite

Briefly: Nobody knows what to do with Oklahoma or Georgia

Oklahoma went to the playoff and very nearly made the national title game, but now they’re losing their generational quarterback and still haven’t fired Mike Stoops, somehow. How they’ll look next year is anyone’s guess, but they are replacing the most important player on the field. It’s a similar story with Georgia: they ran through their competition with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, but now those two stars are heading to the NFL Draft, and likely taking linebacker Roquan Smith with them.

Sportsbooks don’t agree on what to do with this. Some list Oklahoma as strong favorites, given their recent successes (Bovada and MyBookie have the Sooners at +300 and +250, respectively) and others are watching Mayfield enter the draft and fading the Sooners (BetOnline and TopBet.eu have them at +700 and +1800, respectively). The odds available from Georgia range from +160 at BetWay to +2000 at BetOnline. Are they a strong favorite or an outside shot? Sportsbooks disagree.

If you’re looking to bet on any of the high-profile programs, particularly last year’s playoff teams, shop around. It might mean using a new book for the first time, which is a pain, but in some cases it will mean improving your payout tenfold.

The Best Value?

Briefly: If there’s any hope, it lies in the proles

The sportsbooks are all very short on playoff teams. Alabama +140, Georgia +250, Oklahoma +250, and Clemson +260 all show that. You might win, but you’re not going to get a great payout by betting on one of 2017’s final four.

Just outside that group, however, there might be some value available. Big Ten-champion Ohio State has odds that range from +800 to as high as +1000 at BetOnline. Considering that team came one (loud, dumb) argument from being in Alabama’s playoff slot, getting dramatically better odds seems like a bargain. Michigan, which has been building towards 2018 and is adding a stellar quarterback in Shea Patterson, is a available as a 50/1 or 100/1 shot. (We’re going to shift to fractional odds for this next bit because I don’t want to break my “0” key.) Florida State, which still has one of the most talented rosters in the country to go with its fancy new coaching staff, is available at 100/1 or 200/1 at a lot of books. Washington made the CFP in 2016-17 and is available at 150/1. If Myles Gaskin comes back (and Bryce Love leaves), is there a better running back in the PAC-12? Considering all the turnover the league is experiencing this year, who’s your PAC-12 favorite, if not the Huskies?

Focus on teams that don’t have as big a brand-name right now, or as much recent success, and you can find some big payouts. There’s some teams that are set up really well for 2018 but aren’t valued highly, some teams that have made aggressive personnel changes in order to challenge the traditional powers, and some teams that have reaped huge benefits from transfers. Just don’t bet on Alabama at +140. That’s silly.

Geoff Johnson

MTS co-founder Geoff Johnson is a lifelong Mets fan, something he can't do anything about. He has a great track record when it comes to wagering on baseball – largely because he's more than willing to bet against the Mets. His career profits are impressive, but not quite as good as his handsome friend Frank Lorenzo. He wishes he hadn't let Frank write his profile.