College Football Picks & Playoff Odds: Ohio State Buckeyes

Steve -

Sunday, December 21, 2014 8:15 PM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014 8:15 PM UTC

This article explores Ohio State’s National Championship odds and futures betting value and it is brought to you before any 2014-2015 Bowl game has been played.

They came; they saw; they liked Urban Meyer more than 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 Big Ten Champions, The Ohio State Buckeyes, have the second-longest odds of winning the 2015 title, but should they?


Current Odds
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 Ohio State at 8-to-1. One way of thinking about those odds is to imagine that, were Ohio State to run through this Playoff eight times, they would win the National Championship just once. If those odds were converted to a percentage, then OSU would have a 12.5% chance of winning it all.

Ohio State’s first game is against Alabama, and the Buckeyes are currently 9.5-point underdogs. Utilizing college football outcomes from the past 10 seasons, we have calculated the actual rate at which 9.5-point underdogs won their football games outright (straight-up). Closing-line underdogs of 9.5 points won their games outright 29.22% of the time. Therefore, based on the last 10 years of college football, Ohio State has a 29.22% chance of beating Alabama 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 OSU would beat each of those teams?

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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 Ohio State has covered the spread in their games this 2014 season by an average of 8.54 points per game. By that metric, the Buckeyes are the most undervalued of the four College Football Playoff contenders.

For the sake of this hypothetical section, we must imagine that Ohio State found a way to be part of that 29.22% scenario that would have them beating the Tide to face either FSU or Oregon for the National Championship. Obviously, if Ohio State beat Alabama, bookmakers would rate the Buckeyes higher than they currently do, but for the purposes of this article, we will take teams as they are. Against Oregon, we might see Ohio State as five-point underdogs. Taking that to be the hypothetical case, over the past 10 seasons, closing-line underdogs of five points won their games outright exactly 39% of the time. Putting together the likelihood of victories over Alabama and Oregon yields an Ohio State National Championship 11.4% of the time, which roughly equates to 8.8-to-1 odds.

Should Florida State upset Oregon and face Ohio State in the National Championship game (again, taking teams as they are now and not accounting for how power ratings would change after those upset victories), we might see Ohio State as a 4.5-point favorite. Closing-line favorites of 4.5 points won their games outright 61.22% of the time. Putting together the likelihood of victories over Alabama and Florida State yields an Ohio State National Championship 17.89% of the time, which roughly equates to 5.6-to-1 odds.


Ohio State’s Odds Summary
In the final analysis, given that Florida State is a 9.5-point underdog in college football odds to Oregon, the Seminoles’ chances of beating Oregon are also 29.22%, which means that there is a 70.78% chance that Ohio State, after beating Alabama, would face Oregon in the National Championship game. The ultimate calculation gives Ohio State a 13.3% chance of winning it all, which roughly equates to 7.5-to-1. Understanding Ohio State’s National Championship odds as we have calculated them means that, at current odds, you would be paying as if OSU had a 12.5% chance of total victory when the reality looks more like 13.3%. In real money terms, for every $100 bet on the actual current odds, $800 would be won. Compare that to what should be won, $750, and you find that you stand to gain $50 for every $100 wagered. Believe it or not, that means there actually is some value to making that college football pick on Ohio State to win it all.


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