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
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Clemson
Line: Alabama -5.5
Both Alabama and Clemson cruised to the national title game with double digit victories in the semifinals. The Tide and Tigers will meet for the fourth straight season, and they’ve been on a collision course all year. Neither team has been challenged much this year, and they’ve been the two best programs in college football since 2015.
This marks the first time all season Clemson has been an underdog. Alabama has been favored in every game this year, but this is the first time they’ve been favored by single digits. The Tide won last year’s meeting 24-6 in a defensive slugfest in the semifinals.
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 draft 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.