This expert College Football handicapper explores Oregon’s National Championship odds and futures betting value in his article written before any 2014-2015 Bowl game has been played.
They came; they saw; they ignored the state of Texas. 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 Pac-12 Champions, the Oregon Ducks, have the second-shortest odds of winning the 2015 title, but should they? This article explores Oregon’s National Championship odds and futures betting value (and it is written before any 2014-2015 Bowl game has been played).
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 Oregon at 3/2 (or 1.5-to-1). One way of thinking about those odds is to imagine that, were Oregon to run through this Playoff three times, they would win the National Championship twice. If those odds were converted to a percentage, then the Ducks would have a 66.67% chance of winning it all.
Oregon’s first game is against Florida State, and the Ducks 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, Oregon has a 70.78% chance of beating Florida State in the semifinals, but if they did that, they would have to beat either Alabama or Ohio State to win the National Championship. What, then, are the odds that Oregon 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 Oregon has covered the spread in their games this 2014 season by an average of 2.5 points per game. By that metric, the Ducks are the second-most undervalued team of the four College Football Playoff teams.
For the sake of this hypothetical section, we must imagine that the Ducks succeed in their 70.78% chance of beating the Seminoles to face either Alabama or Ohio State for the National Championship. Depending on how (or how badly) Oregon beats FSU, bookmakers could raise or lower the Ducks’ power ratings for the National Championship game, but for the purposes of this article, we will take teams as they are. Against Alabama, we might see Oregon as a five-point underdog. 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 Florida State and Alabama yields an Oregon National Championship 27.6% of the time, which roughly equates to 3.6-to-1 odds.
Should Ohio State upset Alabama and face Oregon in the National Championship game (again, taking teams as they are now and not accounting for how power ratings would change after these Ohio State’s upset victory), we might see Oregon as a five-point favorite. Closing-line favorites of five points won their games outright exactly 61% of the time. Putting together the likelihood of victories over Florida State and Ohio State yields an Oregon National Championship 43.18% of the time, which roughly equates to 2.3-to-1 odds.
Oregon’s Odds Summary
In the final analysis, given that Ohio State is a 9.5-point underdog in college football odds to Alabama, the Buckeyes’ chances of beating Alabama are 29.22%, which means that there is a 70.78% chance that Oregon, after beating Florida State, would face Alabama in the National Championship game. The ultimate calculation gives Oregon a 32.16% chance of winning it all, which roughly equates to 3.1-to-1. Understanding Oregon’s National Championship odds as we have calculated them means that, at current odds, you would be paying as if the Ducks had a 66.67% chance of total victory when the reality looks more like 32.16%. In real money terms, for every $100 bet on the actual current odds, $150 would be won. Compare that to what should be won, $310, and you find that you would lose $160 for every $100 wagered. Are you surprised that bookmakers did not offer you a bargain for this college football pick?