College Football Playoff Rankings vs. Natty Odds Heading Into Week 12

Week 11 losses by the UCLA Bruins and Ole Miss Rebels have knocked them off the board regarding the National Championship odds at the FanDuel Sportsbook. That leaves 12 teams on the board, and if we’re being honest, that feels like a stretch at the backend.

Let’s look at how the College Football Playoff Rankings compare to the betting market. 

The Likely Contenders

There were no changes at the top, as one through five all won, including a “ranked” road win, and four others by at least 26 points. 

The No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs have reached the point where they can lose and wouldn’t be knocked out of the college football playoffs, which is partially why they are the odds-on favorite at -125, a minute change from -120 last week.

The following two teams in the CFP Ranking and National Championship odds both come out of the Big Ten. The No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes hold steady not only in their ranking but also in their +250 odds. Not surprising, considering we didn’t learn much from OSU’s blowout over Indiana.

Among the top four, the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines saw a little steam behind them as their odds shifted from +800 to +700 with two weeks left in the regular season. The gap between the Wolverines and Buckeyes has shortened slowly but surely. OSU is -6.5 in The Game (-8.5 last week).

The sportsbook still has the No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers as fourth in the National Championship odds at +1400, so they sit in the same spot they did a week ago. This is a good spot, as they have an excellent shot at making the CFP despite being eliminated from SEC title contention. 

It’s time to consider the No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs as a legitimate contender. All it took was a 10-0 start to vault the Big 12 school into the top five of the futures odds at the books, as they’re +3000, a significant move from +8000 last week. When you win with Arch Manning in the stands, respect is paid.

Not a ton of respect, if we’re being honest. While the Horned Frogs are favored this week at Baylor (-2.5), all the teams in front of them and several behind them would be giving double-digit points to the Bears. The sportsbooks probably still expect TCU to catch a loss at some point. 

Finally, we have the No. 7 USC Trojans, who have the sixth-best odds at +5000 after checking in at +6000 last week. That shift is probably more about losses suffered by Oregon and UCLA than anything the Trojans did.

If they win out, I expect USC will make it, but they’re only favored by 2.5 at the rival Bruins this Saturday, with Notre Dame coming to the Coliseum next week and either Oregon or Utah in a potential Pac-12 Championship Game. Raise your hand if you think the Men of Troy are winning all three.

The Potential Upstarts

Why is No. 6 LSU an upstart and not a contender? Because they have to beat Georgia (16.5-point spread) to have any chance. They were way overvalued coming off their Alabama win, which I stated last week and the sportsbook confirmed. How so?

The Bayou Bengals won as a slight favorite at Arkansas, clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game, and moved up a slot in the CFP Rankings. All of that points towards better odds, except they went from +4000 to +6000, tied for the seventh-best odds after sitting in the sixth spot a week ago.

Even if they control their destiny, the Bulldogs will have something to say about it, which most definitely sounds like a contradiction. Who else has a realistic shot?

How about No. 9 Clemson, whose odds plummeted last week but bounced back off their Week 11 win (over an OK Louisville team) from +10000 to +6000, right there with LSU. Of the Death Valley Tigers, Clemson has the better chance of running the table and winning their conference.

Last but not least is No. 13 North Carolina, who saw their odds shift from +15000 to +10000. Just as they did nothing wrong in Week 10 to hurt their odds, they did nothing special in Week 11 to increase their chances. Chances that remain shaky, considering their ranking and status. 

Stop It; They’re Cooked

No. 9 Alabama may deserve their ranking, which is ahead of the ACC contenders, but I don’t see a path for the Crimson Tide, despite all the fantastic conspiracy theories on message boards, from sea to shining sea.

Alabama picked up a resume-building win over Ole Miss, but when LSU won their sixth SEC game, they eliminated ‘Bama from SEC title contention and caused the two-loss non-conference champ’s odds to crash like an S&P 500 stock to +25000 from +8000 odds (+300 two weeks ago).

If there’s a realistic avenue for Alabama to pass three of Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, and a one-loss ACC Champ, I’m struggling to find it.

If a two-loss non-conference champ SEC team named Alabama, coached by Nick Saban, is virtually eliminated, does a Pac-12 school, even if they win the conference, truly have a shot at making the CFP with two losses?

That’s where No. 10 Utah and No. 12 Oregon are, also at +25000. The Utes were already a longshot at +20000 last week, but the Ducks were in a good position (fifth in terms of odds at +2500) before Washington handed them their second loss of 2022.