Alabama Leads The Pack, But Books & AP Poll Split On USC

College football futures odds famously hit the market moments after the previous season’s champion has been crowned. Yet, while bettors have had months to pound the lines into place, the overall order of teams favored sees little change.

This week’s version of the AP Poll syncs up perfectly with the order at the top of most college football odds boards, but bettors will begin to find heavy discrepancies once they move beyond the nation’s top four programs.

Both oddsmakers and the Associated Press list Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, and Clemson as the most probable candidates to enter this season’s playoffs. Where sportsbooks continue with the USC Trojans holding down the 5th spot, the AP Poll has placed the Trojans further down the board at 14th.

Where the Associated Press voted in the Fighting Irish at the 5th position, Notre Dame sits 7th on the futures board. The press also appears to be higher on Utah than those setting the lines, as the team sits 7th on the poll as opposed to their 10th place position at most betting sites.

These differences are nothing out of the ordinary, but they do help suggest betting trends and handle distribution across the field, with novice bettors looking to toss money on the usual favorites.

College football tends to be top-heavy, and it’s no surprise to see both outlets agree on the usual suspects most likely to punch their ticket to this year’s playoffs.

AP Poll Top 25 (with odds)

  1. Alabama (+210)
  2. Ohio State (+350)
  3. Georgia (+475)
  4. Clemson (+800)
  5. Notre Dame (+5000)
  6. Texas A&M (+2500)
  7. Utah (+6600)
  8. Michigan (+8000)
  9. Oklahoma (+5000)
  10. Baylor (+15000)
  11. Oregon (+10000)
  12. OK State (+15000)
  13. NC State (+10000)
  14. USC (+1400)
  15. MSU (+15000)
  16. Miami (+6600)
  17. Pittsburgh (+30000)
  18. Wisconsin (+10000)
  19. Arkansas (+15000)
  20. Kentucky (+15000)
  21. Ole Miss (+10000)
  22. Cincinnati (+20000)
  23. Houston (+25000)
  24. BYU (+50000)

CFP Odds Top 25 (with ties)

  1. Alabama +210
  2. Ohio State +350
  3. Georgia +475
  4. Clemson +800
  5. USC +1400
  6. Texas A&M +2500
  7. Notre Dame +5000
  8. Oklahoma +5000
  9. Miami (FL) +6600
  10. Texas +6600
  11. Utah +6600
  12. Auburn +7500
  13. LSU +8000
  14. Michigan +8000
  15. Florida +10000
  16. NC State +10000
  17. Ole Miss +10000
  18. Oregon +10000
  19. Penn State +10000
  20. Wisconsin +10000
  21. Tennessee +12500
  22. Arkansas +15000
  23. Baylor +15000
  24. Florida State +15000
  25. Kentucky +15000
  26. Michigan State +15000
  27. Oklahoma State +15000
  28. South Carolina +15000

“College Football Futures are usually one of those that we do not touch or move much since we post them immediately after the previous year’s Championship Game,” shared BetOnline head oddsmaker, Adam Burns.

“Alabama remain the +210 favorites and has taken more money than any other team aside from the second favorite Ohio State at +350. In short, there is not much movement here, and is actually a pretty boring market to trade until one of these teams picks up a loss.”

We see it every year, when a hyped-up playoff candidate suffers an early season loss. The sports media world pounces on the opportunity to debate if ‘this’ team is still deserving of a playoff spot.

The unforgiving format of a four-team playoff system suggests that a single loss at the top of the list has the potential to disrupt everything underneath, and most wagers on anyone sitting outside of the top 6 programs are made with the hopes of an upset taking place further up the board.

“Normally we do see some early money on the futures when we initially open, especially if there are any transfers,” Added Burns. “Still, 80% of the money on the future odds drops in the week leading up to the season kickoff. Also, since each individual game makes such a difference, we see a ton of action throughout the season just before and after a candidate faces a tough opponent.”

Bettors Seeing Red

The Alabama Crimson Tide look to clinch their third title in six years, and its no surprise to see the team taking a large share of total wagers. Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Bryce Young returns to lead the Tide, and despite his impressive stat line last season, his team fell just short of clinching another title.

Young’s 4,872 passing yards saw him ranked 2nd in the nation, tossing for 47 touchdowns along the way. Now with added experience, Young likely has all of the tools needed to clear that final hurdle and bring another piece of metal home for that Alabama trophy case.

While the case for the Tide is hard to argue against, betting against them has proven to hold the better value.

Ohio State sits just behind them in terms of outright future odds, and despite missing the playoffs altogether last season, the Buckeyes return C.J. Stroud under center along with a number of offensive weapons.

Last year’s champions, the Georgia Bulldogs, remain in the top 3, but the team saw a number of their defensive anchors head to the NFL. It was the Bulldogs lock-down defense that led them to a title, and while it’s safe to assume that the team will remain a powerhouse, personnel changes could create the openings opponents need to find the endzone.

The argument for USC is an interesting one, as the team brings in head coach Lincoln Riley, and sophomore QB Caleb Williams will lead the Trojans after transferring from Oklahoma.

Both the books and poll voters agree that USC should be taken seriously as a contender, but their 5th place position on the college football futures odds grid might have more to do with the oddsmakers playing into public perception than it does their actual probability of winning a title.

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