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2018 College Football Playoff: Betting Odds, Strategy, Predictions and Picks

For years college football fans clamored for a playoff at the Division I FBS level. The media voted on the champion until 1998 when the BCS system was instituted to put two teams against each other in a championship game until, finally, a four team playoff was formed. The College Football Playoff is entering its fifth season this year and interesting trends are starting to form.

Here is the short history of the CFP and the early trends to be aware of when placing your bets.

2019 College Football Playoff Odds

Alabama -200

Georgia +750

Ohio State +750

Clemson +750

Notre Dame +950

Michigan +2,500

Washington +3,000

Texas +4,000

Oklahoma +4,500

Penn State +5,500

West Virginia +6,000

Wisconsin +6,000

Central Florida +8,000

NC State +8,000

LSU +10,000

Miami FL +10,000

Florida +20,000

Oregon +20,000

Iowa +25,000

Auburn +30,000

Mississippi State +50,000

Stanford +50,000

Kentucky +100,000

South Florida +100,000

Michigan State +100,000

TCU +100,000

Texas Tech +100,000

Alabama has dominated its first three games of the season, crushing the likes of Louisville, Arkansas State and Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide are the clear favorites and it shows as Clemson is the second favorite and a good 315 points behind.

Ohio State and Georgia round out the top four at +650 and +750. The Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been great so far and is climbing up the Heisman Trophy watch list.

The Bulldogs have yet to be tested as their closest game came as a 41-17 win at then No. 24 South Carolina.

Looking to sneak their way into the top four are Notre Dame (+1,600), Oklahoma (+1,800), Washington (+2,200), Auburn (+2,500), Michigan (+2,500) and LSU (+2,500).

The Fighting Irish will be tested against Stanford in two weeks, while the Sooners should be fine until the Red River Rivalry against Texas on Oct. 6 and a road game with TCU on Oct. 20.

The Huskies will host Arizona State this weekend and No. 25 BYU next week and after a 21-7 win at Utah, Washington could use a convincing win against two quality opponents. The Huskies lone loss came to Auburn, who will have a chance to bounce back up against Mississippi State on Oct. 6.

If Michigan is for real, the Wolverines will have to chance to prove it soon if they can take care of Nebraska, Northwestern and Maryland. After that, Michigan will host Wisconsin, travel to Michigan State and host Penn State in consecutive weeks. If the Wolverines come out of the stretch 8-1, they’ll find themselves climbing.

LSU is a great pick to make the playoffs as the Tigers have the similar odds to Michigan and also host Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi State this season. There is still plenty of room on the LSU bandwagon.

College Football Playoff Trends

  • The preseason favorite has only won the national title once (Alabama, 2017).
  • The No. 1 seed has never won the championship and neither has the No. 3 seed.
  • Ohio State won the inaugural title as the No. 4 seed and Alabama was the No. 4 seed in 2017. Clemson and Alabama were both No. 2 seeds when they won their titles against each other.
  • Alabama is the only program to be in all four playoffs while Clemson has been in three times and Ohio State and Oklahoma have been in twice.
  • The Big Ten won the first title, but has since struggled with Ohio State and Michigan State both getting blown out by a combined score of 69-0.
  • The SEC has won two titles and is 5-3 in CFP history while the ACC has a title and is 3-3.  The Big Ten is 2-2, the PAC-12 is 1-2 and Big 12 is 0-2.
  • In the championship game the underdog is 2-2 straight up — and against the spread — while the over has hit in three of the four games.

The CFP Favorites

Going into this season there is a clear head-and-shoulders favorite with Alabama coming in at +178, while Clemson — the next closest competitor — checks in at +525. Still, the Tigers, Ohio State and Georgia seem to be clear favorites to fill out the College Football Playoff picture. Why?

Alabama has created a such deep depth chart over the years that they can send so many players to the d

ncaaf betting, college football playoff, cfp betting
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

raft and right behind them are guys who are just as good, and sometimes better.

The Crimson Tide have an interesting quarterback situation with Jalen Hurts being benched during the title game for Tua Tagovailoa who led them to a come-from-behind win. Hurts has only lost two games during his entire tenure at Alabama and many schools would love to have a QB with his background running the program.

Clemson will be led by starting quarterback Kelly Bryant and an extremely good defensive line featuring Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant. The Tigers bring back 15 starters from last year, which bodes well for them blowing through the ACC and perhaps getting another shot at Alabama.

Ohio State is the favorite to win the Big Ten and typically winning the Big Ten gets you in the playoff. The Buckeyes have running back J.K. Dobbins leading the charge while they look for a new starting quarterback, but Dwayne Haskins did well against Michigan when J.T. Barrett went down.

Georgia will have quarterback Jake Fromm fresh off a stellar freshman season and to think he could be better than 2,615 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions is pretty scary. The Bulldogs will need a new running back with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel off to the NFL.

College Football Playoff Sleepers

Wisconsin can’t really be considered a sleeper anymore since they are +1000. However, Notre Dame has some sleeper potential at +2500. The Fighting Irish almost always play a difficult schedule, but it’s far more manageable this fall.

Notre Dame hosts Michigan in a season-opening showdown, and the winner of that game will immediately be considered a contender. If the Irish win that game — BetDSI lists them as a short 1-point underdog — then their odds to win the championship will improve. If you like them to beat Michigan and want a little action on them to win the national title, now might be a good time to take them.

On the other hand, if you think Michigan will beat Notre Dame but also think the Irish can run the table afterwards, then you can get a better number on them after Week 1. The rest of schedule isn’t easy, but it isn’t inconceivable that they win out and finish 11-1.

Notre Dame has road games at Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Navy (on a neutral field in San Diego), Northwestern and USC. The trip to Blacksburg could be daunting, but that’s not a terrible road slate. The Irish host Michigan, Ball State, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Pitt, Florida State and Syracuse. So, the toughest games on the schedule are in South Bend.

Brian Kelly’s team returns 15 starters — including nine on defense — from a team that won 10 games a season ago. It’s a very talented roster, and they’re definitely capable of making a run this season.

2018 College Football Playoff: Betting Odds, Strategy, Predictions and Picks
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2018 College Football Playoff: Betting Odds, Strategy, Predictions and Picks
How to bet on the college football playoff, including CFP odds, betting strategies and more. Bet on the 2018 College Football Playoff today.

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