This College Football handicapper explores Florida State'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 left out Baylor and TCU. 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, defending National Champions, the Florida State Seminoles, have the longest 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 Florida State at 17/2 (or 8.5-to-1). One way of thinking about those odds is to imagine that, were Florida State to run through this Playoff 8.5 times, they would win the National Championship just once. If those odds were converted to a percentage, then FSU would have an 11.76% chance of winning it all.
Florida State’s first game is against Oregon, and the Seminoles 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, Florida State has a 29.22% chance of beating Oregon 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 FSU 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 Florida State has failed to cover the spread in their games this 2014 season by an average of 5.5 points per game. By that metric, Florida State is the most overvalued of all four College Football Playoff teams.
For the sake of this hypothetical section, we must imagine that the Seminoles found a way to be part of that 29.22% scenario that would have them beating the Ducks to face either Alabama or Ohio State for the National Championship. Obviously, if FSU beat Oregon, bookmakers would rate the Seminoles higher than they currently do, but for the purposes of this article, we will take teams as they are. Against Alabama, we might see Florida State as 14-point underdogs. Taking that to be the hypothetical case, over the past 10 seasons, closing-line underdogs of 14 points won their games outright 14.04% of the time. Putting together the likelihood of victories over Oregon and Alabama yields a Florida State National Championship 4.1% of the time, which roughly equates to 24-to-1 odds.
Should Ohio State upset Alabama and face Florida State in the National Championship game (again, taking teams as they are now and not accounting for how power ratings would change after these upset victories), we might see Ohio State as a 4.5-point favorite. Closing-line underdogs of 4.5 points won their games outright 38.78% of the time. Putting together the likelihood of victories over Oregon and Ohio State yields a Florida State National Championship 11.33% of the time, which roughly equates to 8.8-to-1 odds.
Florida State’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 also 29.22%, which means that there is a 70.78% chance that Florida State, after beating Oregon, would face Alabama in the National Championship game. The ultimate calculation gives Florida State a 6.21% chance of winning it all, which roughly equates to 16-to-1. Understanding Florida State’s National Championship odds as we have calculated them means that, at current odds, you would be paying as if FSU had an 11.76% chance of total victory when the reality looks more like 6.21%. In real money terms, for every $100 bet on the actual current odds, $850 would be won. Compare that to what should be won, $1,600, and you find that you would lose $750 for every $100 wagered. Well, did you think bookmakers were going to offer you a bargain?