This College Football handicapper explores Alabama’s National Championship odds and futures betting value in this article written before any 2014-2015 Bowl game has been played.
They came; they saw; they excluded the Big 12. The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has chosen the four teams to play-off against each other for the National Championship. Although the playoff might be new to the Football Bowl Subdivision, some things are not new, like assessing how one college football team matches up against another. Of the four teams, the SEC Champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide, have the shortest odds of winning the 2015 title, but should they?
Shopping for the best betting value is always recommended, and there is no shortage of slightly-differing National Championship odds between all the offshore and even the Nevada bookmakers. For this article, William Hill’s numbers are used, and they have Alabama at 1.05-to-1. If those college football odds were converted to a percentage, then Alabama would have a 95.24% chance of winning it all.
Alabama’s first game is against Ohio State, and the Tide are currently 9.5-point favorites. Utilizing college football outcomes from the past 10 seasons, we have calculated the actual rate at which 9.5-point favorites won their football games outright (straight-up). Closing-line favorites of 9.5 points won their games outright 70.78% of the time. Therefore, based on the last 10 years of college football, Alabama has a 70.78% chance of beating the Buckeyes in the semifinals, but if they did that, they would have to beat either Florida State or Oregon to win the National Championship. What, then, are the odds that Alabama would beat each of those teams?
Hypothetical National Championship Betting Lines
There are so many different ways to set a betting line. Whether using popular oddsmakers’ power ratings, point differential, or anything else, the fact remains that Alabama has covered the spread in their games this 2014 season by an average of 0.46 points per game. By that metric, the Tide are the most fairly-valued team of the four College Football Playoff contenders.
For the sake of this hypothetical section, we must imagine that Alabama succeeds in their 70.78% chance of beating the Buckeyes and face either FSU or Oregon for the National Championship. Depending on how (or how badly) Bama beats Ohio State, bookmakers could raise or lower Alabama’s power ratings for the National Championship game, but for the purposes of this article, we will take teams as they are. Against Oregon, we might see Alabama as five-point favorites. Taking that to be the hypothetical case, over the past 10 seasons, closing-line favorites of five points won their games outright exactly 61% of the time. Putting together the likelihood of victories over Ohio State and Oregon yields an Alabama National Championship 43.18% of the time, which roughly equates to 2.3-to-1 odds.
Should Florida State upset Oregon and face Alabama in the National Championship game (again, taking teams as they are now and not accounting for how power ratings would change after FSU’s upset victory), we might see Alabama as a 14-point favorite. Closing-line favorites of 14 points won their games outright 85.96% of the time. Putting together the likelihood of victories over Ohio State and Florida State yields an Alabama National Championship 60.84% of the time, which roughly equates to 1.65-to-1 odds.
Alabama’s Odds Summary
In the final analysis, given that Florida State is a 9.5-point underdog to Oregon, the Seminoles’ chances of beating Oregon are also 29.22%, which means that there is a 70.78% chance that Alabama, after beating Ohio State, would face Oregon in the National Championship game. The ultimate calculation gives Alabama a 48.34% chance of winning it all, which roughly equates to 2.05-to-1. Understanding Alabama’s National Championship odds as we have calculated them means that, at current odds, you would be paying as if Bama had a 95.24% chance of total victory when the reality looks more like 48.34%. In real money terms, for every $100 bet on the actual current odds, $105 would be won. Compare that to what should be won, $205, and you find that you would lose $100 for every $100 wagered. Are you shocked that bookmakers are not giving you a good deal for this college football pick?