A lot of time and energy was spent debating who should be in the College Football Playoff. As pundits and fans praised or scorned the final decision, sportsbooks emphatically stated that the idea of expanding the bracket is ridiculous. Washington, one of the four teams left standing, is almost 15/1, while top-seeded Alabama is given better than a 70-percent chance to win the crown.
Who should you wager on?
2016 College Football Playoff Betting Advice
The only unbeaten team of the four vying for the title comes out of the SEC, a conference that has produced the champ in eight of the past ten seasons. But the Crimson Tide haven’t really been tested this year. They squeaked past Ole Miss early in the season, and held off LSU more recently. The other ten contests were lopsided affairs. The Tide rank 13th in the NCAA in scoring at 40.5 points a game, and are number one defensively, allowing just 11.8. A win close to home in Atlanta against the Huskies would provide plenty of support for the title game in Tampa.
Ohio State (5/1)
Despite not participating in the Big 10 Championship game and falling to league champ Penn State, the Buckeyes earned a bid with a non-conference win over Oklahoma and league victories against Wisconsin and Michigan. Ohio State is 11-1, but the last two wins (Michigan and Michigan State) have both been tight. They also came out on top in a close game against Northwestern. That said, the Big 10 was the toughest conference this year, and Ohio State finished third in the NCAA in scoring defense and ninth on offense.
The Tigers reached the title game last year, and while their results were considered underwhelming for much of this season, they are back in the bracket. Clemson is 12-1; their lone loss came against Pittsburgh at home, but there have been many close calls: Auburn, Louisville, NC State, Florida State, and the ACC title game over Virginia Tech to name a few. Clemson averages 40.2 points a game and gives up 18.4. Both stats sit between tenth and 15th overall, nationally.
Nobody was all that excited when the Huskies swept a non-league slate of Rutgers, Idaho, and Portland State. However, a 44-6 win over Stanford and a 31-24 victory at Utah got the nation’s attention. The Huskies were 9-0 when USC came to Seattle and beat them 26-13. Washington rebounded by blowing out Arizona State, Washington State, and Colorado. The Huskies score 44.5 points a game (fifth) and allow 17.2 (eighth). Their only contest against a team remotely close to this caliber was the loss at home to Southern Cal.
Alabama is probably the best team, but I am not convinced they have a better than 72-percent shot of winning, meaning the value is not there. At the other end of the spectrum, Washington feels outmatched.
Ohio State played in the best conference, and Clemson has experience from being in this position last year. The winner of Ohio State/Clemson will be a significant underdog against the Tide, but at 8/1, the Tigers are being given only an 11-percent chance. I think both Clemson and the Buckeyes have closer to a 20 to 25-percent shot, meaning Clemson provides enough value to merit a small wager.
Photo Credit: Zennie Abraham (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/].