That's the case every year when the numbers go out. Only one team can eventually win the whole enchilada, making that squad the only true wager with any value, and 2014 won't be any different on the college gridiron.
Only, 2014 will be a little different than in past years as Division I football starts a 4-team playoff system to determine the National Championship. The change was originally approved in 2012 when NCAA presidents voted to scrap the previous BCS formula and add a layer of playoffs to the mix.
The new College Football Playoff (CFP) begins a 10-year run this season, and while the most obvious difference from the BCS system is the addition of two more teams, the biggest difference is leaving the decision on which four schools make the bracket entirely up to a single committee instead of relying on computers and polls involving dozens of people and formulas.
We can think back to this past weekend and Selection Sunday for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. There was little objection to Florida, Arizona and Wichita State receiving No. 1's, but the last top-seed was debatable, eventually going to Virginia. That same subjectivity -- favoritism, if you prefer -- will be part of the ultimate decisions reached this December when four teams are invited to the CFP.
Is There Any Value In
A Seminoles Repeat?
Florida State sits atop the college football futures odds presently, the Seminoles available in the 3/1 to 4/1 range at most wagering outlets. That might not sound like a great return, but then, chalk by its very definition isn't supposed to have a huge return and it doesn't mean the 'Noles are overvalued.
There will no doubt be a target on Florida State's back following a perfect 14-0 campaign. The Seminoles will also have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner back as Jameis Winston takes aim at becoming only the second player to win two Heisman's, and their schedule is favorable with Clemson, Notre Dame and Florida all in Tallahassee.
Speaking of the Fighting Irish, they are fetching a 40/1 price on the NCAA futures, and while that is nice payout to hit, it's not going to happen this year. Notre Dame is only a year removed from going undefeated in the regular season and playing for the BCS Championship, and we know the CFP committee will give Brian Kelly's crew the benefit of the doubt. Still, the Irish are overvalued at any price to reach the playoffs.
How Much Weight Will
SEC Carry With Committee?
The Southeastern Conference ruled the BCS system with seven consecutive champions from 2007-13 and the runner-up this past season. The conference even managed to squeeze in both participants for the 2012 BCS title tilt, and the SEC should still get plenty of attention in the new CFP system as three schools rank among the top 10 teams in the college football futures odds.
Alabama tops the SEC at 6/1 to win it all, followed by LSU (18/1) and Auburn (22/1). Could we see two of those teams make the pigskin version of the Final Four? If so, my money is on Alabama and LSU, making Auburn the overvalued pick for 2014.
Two more SEC teams that are overvalued are Ole Miss (30/1 to 33/1) and Texas A&M (50/1 to 60/1). Both teams could be better than 2013 when the Rebels went 8-5 and the Aggies 9-4, but having to go through Alabama, LSU and Auburn will keep each out of the CFP picture.
What About The Big
Ten & Pac-12?
Ohio State really laid an egg at the end of 2013 when the Buckeyes fell to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship that ended their 24-game win streak, then lost a second straight contest in the Orange Bowl to Clemson. Urban Meyer's outfit is the favorite to win the conference this time, attracting CFP Championship odds in the 9/1 to 12/1 range.
The Buckeyes do catch a break on this year's schedule with Wisconsin missing on the slate while Maryland and Rutgers have been added in those schools' first Big Ten season. I'm still putting Ohio State on my overvalued list for the present.Out in the Pac-12, Oregon (8/1) and UCLA (18/1) lead the way with USC (25/1) placing third on the NCAA championship futures odds. I love Jim Mora and the Bruins, but they will have to face both the Ducks and the Trojans while Oregon and Southern Cal avoid each other in the regular season. Even though both games are at home in the Rose Bowl, along with a visit from Stanford, just reaching the Pac-12 Championship will be tough enough for UCLA, much less earning a slot in the CFP title game.