College Football Betting: Championship Futures vs. Top 25

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, June 12, 2015 6:56 PM GMT

The 2015 College Football Championship Future Odds have been released, and as usual there is a disconnect between these odds and the preseason Top 25 Rankings. 

 



The 2015 College Football season will be here before you know it as opening weekend is now less than three months away, and as usual we will be here every week with our college football picks. And it is never too early to start peeking at Championship Future Odds, as now may be the best time to act on them as the odds will only get tighter as the regular season draws nearer.

Those future odds are currently up at 5Dimes and one nice early exercise is to compare these odds with the projected Top 25 ranking to begin the season, as the bookmakers may be tipping their hands as to who the “real” best teams are, perhaps giving a clue as to which teams are undervalued and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, which teams are overrated to begin the year.

Mark Schlabach of ESPN has released what he calls the “Way-Too-Early Top 25”, which might be a good indicator of what the first preseason polls will look like when they are officially released. Those early rankings now follow, along with each school’s college football odds to win the national championship at 5Dimes.


Early Top 25
1. Ohio State +350
2. TCU +950
3. Oregon +1900
4. Auburn +1150
5. USC +1500
6. Baylor +2400
7. Alabama +850
8. Michigan State +2800
9. Georgia +2900
10. Clemson +3300
11. UCLA +3200
12. Notre Dame +3200
13. Arizona +10000
14. Mississippi +4500
15. Florida State +1400
16. LSU +2900
17. Wisconsin +7500
18. Georgia Tech +9000
19. Arizona State +7200
20. Tennessee +6800
21. Arkansas +4700
22. Boise State +32500
23. Stanford +6100
24. Missouri +15000
25. Louisville +16500


Just a quick eye-balling of these odds reveal that seventh ranked Alabama is actually the second choice on the futures at +850, splitting the top two ranked teams Ohio State and TCU, and Florida State also seems undervalued in the rankings at number 15. On the opposite end, Arizona and Boise State seem severely over-ranked based on their future odds.

So who is right and who is wrong in these situations? Well, there is no answer to that that is correct 100 percent of the time, but here are our predictions of which teams we feel offer good value at the present time, followed by a few teams that we recommend avoiding.


Future Value Plays
TCU +950:
Among the favorites, we like the Horned Frogs the best, especially at longer odds than Alabama, as we feel they have a realistic chance at going undefeated this season with their toughest game all year being vs. Baylor in the season finale. Remember that Baylor was the only team standing between TCU and an undefeated season last year that would have resulted in a College Football Playoff berth, and the Horned Frogs have not forgotten and this time get the Bears at home! TCU has long had a reputation of playing great defense under Coach Gary Patterson, but now the Horned Frogs have an offense to go with it as returning quarterback ranked fourth in the country last season in total offense while throwing 33 touchdown passes. The Frogs are again stacked at the offensive skill positions and they also return four of the five starters on the offensive line. A national championship game between TCU and Ohio State would be epic this season, but these +950 odds will look a whole lot better should Ohio State stub its toe along the way (more on that later).

UCLA +3200: UCLA was a popular darkhorse selection to make the College Football Playoff last season, but they failed to make the Pac-12 Championship Game after losing three games during the season and were forced to settle for an Alamo Bowl bid, where they dispatched of the Kansas State Wildcats out of the Big 12 to finish 10-3 overall to finish 10th on the final AP Poll. Perhaps that optimism was one year early as the Bruins were a very young team last year and they now return 18 starters, tied for the most in the country! The fact that quarterback Brett Hundley is not one of the returning starters though has tempered the optimism this season somewhat, but we actually think that may give UCLA more value. After all, if the Bruins are really as talented as many experts felt before last season, and there is no reason to believe that they are not, then they should be especially dangerous with so many returnees benefitting from that added year of experience.

Florida State +1400: The Seminoles were believed to have a gaping hole at quarterback when Jameis Winston, who did not lose a game in his two years at the helm in Tallahassee until last season’s Rose Bowl and College Football Playoff semifinal vs. Oregon, bolted for the NFL after his sophomore season. However, Florida State may have instantly re-entered the national title picture when it was announced that Everett Golson was transferring in from Notre Dame and he will be eligible to start immediately. Golson is no stranger to taking undefeated teams to the National Championship Game as he did precisely that with the Fighting Irish in 2012 before losing to Alabama. One big difference for the Noles this year compared to last year is they have two tough conference road games at Georgia Tech and Clemson as well a tough non-conference road affair at Florida. But if the Noles can go 2-1 in those games (not impossible) and then win the ACC Championship Game, they may find themselves back in the playoffs again.

Wisconsin +7500: Remember what we said about Ohio State potentially stubbing its toe? Well, the Badgers have a rather favorable schedule this season as they do not face those Buckeyes nor Michigan State during the regular year, and while running back Melvin Gordon is now in the NFL, Wisconsin already has a fine heir apparent as Corey Clement rushed for 949 yards on 6.5 yards per carry with nine touchdowns in spot duty last year. All this could align to set up a rematch with Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game, where the Badgers will have not forgotten last year’s score of Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0. So would the Badgers get their revenge if that matchup comes to pass? Well, it certainly seems a worthwhile investment with a minimal risk given these 75/1 odds to then go on and win the championship.


Teams to Avoid
Oregon +1900:
These odds could be based more on reputation than anything else, as Oregon could face a stiff challenge from Stanford this year with Marcus Mariota now gone, and even if the Ducks do beat out the Cardinal for the North Division title and another trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game, a date with either UCLA or USC would not be a walk in the park either.

Auburn +1150: It is interesting that Auburn is ranked higher than Alabama on the early rankings and yet is a bigger price, but we do not think it will matter as the Tigers simply have too much competition in the SEC South Division to accept this relatively short price, and getting LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M on the road this year does not help their cause.

Alabama +850: While we agree that Alabama has the best team in the SEC this year and thus agree with them have shorter odds than Auburn despite being ranked lower in the early rankings, the disparity between the Crimson Tide and the rest of the conference is not that much and yet these odds are set as if this is the vintage Alabama team of a few years ago, which it is not especially defensively.