- Clemson (-200) and Ohio State (-150) are favored to return to the College Football Playoffs
- Nick Saban has led Alabama (-125) to tournament appearances in five of the past six years
- Georgia’s new-look offense makes the Bulldogs a strong bet at +150
With NCAA programs across the country hemorrhaging money during COVID-19, news came out this week that the financial fallout from the pandemic will likely lead to an expansion of the College Football Playoff.
However, with changes to the format not expected until 2022-23 at the earliest, the four-team bracket will remain in tact this season.
Having made the tournament in five-consecutive years, it’s safe to assume Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers (-200) will be present on New Year’s Day, but what other schools can be banked on? Let’s examine the early odds.
ODDS TO MAKE 2021 CFP
Ohio State (-150) will be looking to avenge last year’s semifinal loss to Clemson. On the defensive side of the ball, the Buckeyes will be without Chase Young and Jeff Okudah, two presumptive top-five picks in this April’s NFL Draft, but that just means Heisman frontrunner Justin Fields will have more opportunity to rack up stats in Ryan Day’s high-powered offense.
Alabama (-125) should also be expected to join Clemson and Ohio State in the dance. Before suffering a rare two-loss season in 2019-20, Nick Saban had led his team into the CFP every year since the format started in 2014.
Justin Fields appears to have taken a shot at Tate Martell on Twitter https://t.co/ggmfcyGrle
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@Buckeyes) April 8, 2020
Also keep in mind that the Crimson Tide were at -350 to make the tournament at this time last year, so you’re getting a steep discount to bet a perennial winner at almost even money.
Oklahoma (+125) is the favorite to grab the fourth and final playoff spot, and if they do, let’s hope they fare better than last season’s 63-28 beatdown at the hands of LSU. The Sooners defense is always a sieve, but Lincoln Riley could make his fourth-straight CFP appearance if five-star recruit Spencer Rattler picks up where Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield all left off.
SECOND-TIER CFP CONTENDERS
Georgia (+150) is the best bet on the board. While the Bulldogs haven’t made the tournament since a heartbreaking 26-23 overtime-loss to Alabama in the 2018 championship game, Kirby Smart is adding the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class to an elite group of returnees on defense.
More importantly, they’re replacing one of the most boring offenses in the nation with an Air Raid attack fronted by new OC Todd Monken and dual-threat QB Jamie Newman, who transferred from Wake Forest.
Georgia’s addition of Jamie Newman among CFB’s 5 biggest summer storylines https://t.co/BP4ata64jM
— UGA Football Live (@UGAfootballLive) April 13, 2020
LSU (+200) will be hard-pressed to defend their national title with quarterback Joe Burrow, safety Grant Delpit, receiver Justin Jefferson, cornerback Kristian Fulton, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and linebacker Patrick Queen all taking their talents to the NFL.
The Tigers are bringing in a top-five recruiting class, but after losing passing game coordinator Joe Brady (new Carolina Panthers OC) and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda (new Baylor head coach), there are too many question marks for Ed Orgeron’s club.