College football is a rare sport. While many sports have upsets and underdogs, it is easy to predict who will succeed in college football. Alabama has made it to the College Football Playoff every year except for one. The same can be said about Clemson. Ohio State and Oklahoma are always in contention, and Notre Dame has an outside shot.
Still, longshots have succeeded in the past. Clemson was an underdog in their first CFP appearance. LSU went from a second-tier SEC team to national champions. Teams like Washington and Michigan State have also made the CFP during upset years.
It’s easy to make NCAA predictions about the top dogs in college football, but who has an outside shot to even make it to the College Football Playoff? Why are their NCAAF odds so low, and can they overcome them? Some teams have bad odds for a reason, but there is always hope that they can overcome them. If they manage to do so, there is value in their odds.
Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M was close to making the College Football Playoff last year. Their schedule is as easy as you can get in the SEC West. Jimbo Fisher has a new batch of recruits, and the Aggies have experience at a few key positions.
So, why are the Aggies still considered longshots to make it to the College Football Playoff? They seem to have everything trending up.
First and foremost, they will be without Kellen Mond. He wasn’t the best quarterback, but he at least had experience in the SEC. You knew what you got with Mond, and that was enough to be contenders in the SEC West.
However, it wasn’t enough to get past Alabama, and a new quarterback will have a hard time beating the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.
Unless Zach Calzada or another option shines, the Aggies have no hope of getting past Alabama in the SEC. Without that key win, it will be hard to make it to the College Football Playoff. That’s why the Aggies have +2500 odds to win it all, and I still see no value there.
North Carolina Tarheels
The only reason why North Carolina is a longshot is because they are in the same conference as Clemson. To win the ACC, they will have to beat a powerhouse. However, Clemson will be without Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and a top receiver. They recruit better than anyone in college football outside of Alabama, but they still have unproven players coming in to have major roles.
UNC has Sam Howell, a Heisman contender, at quarterback. They have Mack Brown, a head coach with experience in big moments. If they can somehow upset Clemson in the ACC Championship, they would be in the College Football Playoff. They still have to beat teams like Miami during the regular season, but there is hope for UNC.
Now, there are still some concerns with UNC. They are losing two stellar running backs, and they did not live up to the expectation last season. Still, there is a conceivable path to make it through the ACC and into the College Football Playoff. There is plenty of value with their +5000 odds to win the championship.
It is so hard to make the College Football Playoff without playing a Power-5 schedule. We’ve seen it with teams like Cincinnati and UCF have seen this in the past. That makes Cincy’s odds to make the College Football Playoff tough already.
This year, Cincinnati will play Notre Dame. That will be a tough game to win, but an undefeated season with a road win against the Fighting Irish should be enough to ensure a trip to the College Football Playoff. If that doesn’t do it, the Bearcats should either join a conference or give up.
Cincinnati has a great head coach and quarterback. They showed promise last year and almost beat Georgia in their bowl game. While there is little value in their +12500 odds to win it all, they have a great chance to at least make the College Football Playoff.