Bowl season odds are taking shape days after the College Football Playoff (CFP) Selection Committee released its final rankings.
The last weekend of the regular college football season ended free of what could have been total chaos, though Penn State’s come-from-behind win over Wisconsin did give the CFP Selection Committee reason to pause. But Alabama easily took care of business against Florida, Ohio State was idle, Clemson edged Virginia Tech, and Washington handled Colorado.
The all-important final four for week 14 ended with the same group that was included in week 13. Alabama (13-0) is #1, followed by #2 Clemson (12-1), #3 Ohio State (11-1), and #4 Washington (12-1).
In Las Vegas, the sportsbooks believe the National Championship is Alabama’s to lose. The Westgate SuperBook has the Crimson Tide at 2/5, Ohio State 7/2, Clemson 7/1, and Washington 8/1.
Bettors are flocking to Vegas with big wagers. According to ESPN, William Hill took two $25,000 bets on Ohio State to win it all, and the average wager on Alabama at MGM is a whopping $1,800.
First Things First
Before Alabama can defend its national title, it first must go through the Washington Huskies in the Peach Bowl held in Atlanta (December 31st, 3 pm ET). Alabama is led by its defense, but has star power at nearly every position on both sides of the ball.
The SEC Champions are giving the Pac-12 titleholders around 14 points in Vegas. Online sportsbooks are even more confident in ‘Bama, Bovada giving the Huskies 17 points.
Though many football fans are ready to hand Alabama the title, Tide head coach Nick Saban says not so fast. “I don’t think there’s anybody who can play at this point of the season in the playoffs that wouldn’t be an outstanding football team,” Saban told ESPN.
The second CFP semifinal game, the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, also takes place on New Year’s Eve (7 pm ET). #2 Clemson and #3 Ohio State are expected to entertain fans with a more closely contested game. The Buckeyes are currently favored at the Westgate and Bovada sportsbooks by just three points.
On paper, the two teams seem rather evenly matched. Both have strong defenses, but Clemson might have the edge when it comes to offense. Heisman contender Deshaun Watson led Clemson to the sixth-best offense in the nation and threw for 37 touchdowns on nearly 4,000 yards.
Aside from the three CFP games (two semifinals, one championship), there are 41 other bowl games this holiday season. Perhaps the most exciting game outside the College Football Playoff is the Rose Bowl (Jan. 2, 5 pm ET), the so-called “Granddaddy of Them All.”
#5 Penn State (11-2), which was the first team left out of the playoff, travels to Southern California to take on #9 USC (9-3). Other than Alabama, the Nittany Lions and Trojans are the two hottest programs in the country.
However, since it’s essentially a home game for USC at the Rose Bowl, the Trojans are about a touchdown favorite in Las Vegas.