College Football Playoff Picks: Early Bird Gets Best Value

Hook Slide

Monday, December 3, 2018 5:11 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 3, 2018 5:11 PM UTC

There's good value to be had in betting the College Football Playoff, but you need to get in on the action early.

After an action-packed college football Saturday, the dust has settled, the championship rounds have been announced, the brackets have been decided, and hopefully you still have some cash left to invest in the upcoming bowls.

No. 1 Alabama faces fourth-ranked Oklahoma, and No. 2 Clemson takes on third-ranked Notre Dame in the semifinals on Dec. 29. Let's just cut to the chase, shall we? Once you've seen the brackets, honestly, you basically know what the championship game is going to look like as well.

Yes, college football can get crazy sometimes, but do you really see either Alabama or Clemson getting upset and not making it to the championship game? That is, do you see it without the aid of powerful hallucinogenic drugs?

Alabama takes on Oklahoma in the semifinals, and with good reason the Crimson Tide are a massive favorite -- I'd guess at least by two touchdowns, if not a few points more. SBR's top-rated sportsbooks currently have this as a 15-point game, and I'm not entirely sure if that spread is big enough. If your sportsbook allows you to take Alabama for more than -15, but less than -19, it's worth looking at that option in exchange for a payout of +115 or better. There's value in betting the spread favorite if you can get those higher payouts.

Then there's Clemson vs Notre Dame, in which Clemson is easily an 11-12 point favorite -- and the sportsbooks seem to agree, because the current spread is 12.5 points. There isn't much value here, honestly, and the moneylines are even worse. At 12.5 points, you'd need to be getting at least +435 straight-up for Notre Dame and no worse than -350 for Clemson. Currently at 5Dimes, Notre Dame is +335 and Clemson is -420. That's negative value, the kind you leave alone unless you're just looking for action.

So, barring some absolute miracle, we will be looking at Alabama vs. Clemson in the championship game. There's much more parity in that matchup, which means there's much more value to be had in the wagering, but only if you get your bets in early.

Once the semifinal games are decided, the value in the championship game will dry up quickly as the sportsbooks make their adjustments and the public starts pounding the lines.

via GIPHY

I think Alabama is a favorite to beat Clemson, but not by much. My guess is that Alabama would win that matchup 5 1/2 times out of 10 -- or, if you prefer to think of it this way: It's something like a 3-point game. Even if you disagree and think it's a full 7-point game, there's still enormous value in the prop bets right now.

Here are a few props that are being offered at 5Dimes worth considering (don't get confused, some of these predict the exact same outcomes, but for different prices because the props are slightly different).

"Championship game winner" prop: Alabama -210, Clemson +280

"Exact matchup and winner" prop: Alabama vs Clemson, Alabama wins -420, Clemson wins +300

"Championship game exact result" prop: Alabama beats Clemson -126, Clemson beats Alabama +380

It's that last prop bet that really catches the attention. Here's a way for us to get money in on Alabama as the favorite, at a very reasonable price. In fact, -126 is as low as I would ever go on Alabama straight-up, and I'm guessing you won't ever find a chance to get them at a better price -- especially not once the semifinals are done. Or, you can take Clemson for a whopping +380, which is absurdly valuable for a matchup that they would probably win just slightly less than half of the time. The return for risk here is off the charts.

There's good value to be had in betting futures if you can sniff it out, and more importantly, if you get in on the action early.

Good luck, happy hunting, and be sure to check out my other sports analysis on Twitter @HooksPicks and on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/hookspicks

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