Watching the race to the College Football Playoffs and the national championship has been kind of dull and boring this year. Everyone expected Clemson and Alabama to be in the mix again. Once the Big Ten decided to come back, Ohio State joined them.
Who the fourth team will be has been up for debate. But whoever it is will be expected to be nothing more than a steppingstone for whichever of the top three they happen to face in the semifinal game.
Of course, when it comes to betting, boring is good. Who wants to have to study and analyze every potential national championship contender if you do not have to? Thanks to the dominance Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson have shown this season, it has not appeared necessary.
National Championship Odds: The Door Has Been Opened
As great as Clemson is, there has been some doubt over their worthiness since the ACC competition has been weak in recent years. While it has been better this season, it has not been that impressive.
But with a win over Notre Dame, they could quiet the haters and remove all doubt. Getting that win without Trevor Lawrence would not be a piece of cake, of course. But with how D.J. Uiagalelei played last week against Boston College, there didn’t seem to be too much of a reason for worry.
If he struggled, Travis Etienne and their defense could bail him out—but they didn’t. Instead, Notre Dame’s offense led by Ian Book that gashed Clemson for over 500 yards of offense en route to a 47-40 win in overtime.
Just like that, Clemson (+350; odds via DraftKings) goes from being the favorite to having the third-best odds. Not only that, but they do not look unstoppable anymore. Should they lose again, either in the regular season or the ACC title game, they will not make the Final Four.
So, Alabama (+125), who was idle last weekend, is the new favorite, followed by Ohio State (+250). Alabama still has to face an Auburn team that could be troublesome and probably Florida in the SEC Championship game.
Ohio State’s most formidable competition is shaping up to be Indiana, Maryland (+50000), and Northwestern (+20000).
NCAAF National Championship Odds for Some SEC Schools
After rolling Georgia last weekend, it will likely be Florida (+1100) taking on Alabama in the SEC title game. Should they lose but keep it close, the Gators could still make it into the Final Four. Once they get there, anything can happen.
However, if they do not keep it close, then there is an excellent chance Texas A&M (+6600) could make it in. While they did get pounded by Alabama earlier this year, Kellen Mond is playing better, the defense has been stout, and the running game effective. They would be the darkest of dark horses, but occasionally dark horses win.
But any title plans the Aggies have could get put on hold if Notre Dame (+2000) remains undefeated or at least keeps it close against Clemson in the ACC title game. They will have a good case, having beaten a No.1 team. However, A&M supporters could argue the totality of their schedule makes them more deserving.
Some will argue that an undefeated Cincinnati or BYU (+8000) team deserves consideration. But with the schedule both have played, it is hard to imagine the committee naming either to the top four.
Without a win over Alabama in the SEC title game, Georgia (+8000) does not have a chance. But with their quarterback issues, it is unlikely they could win if they made the game (which it does not look like they will).
There are probably a few die-hard Indiana (+8000) that think the Hoosiers can do it. But those dreams will likely get squashed in a couple of weeks when they play Ohio State (unless they win…).
As for any of the Big 12 teams, even if Oklahoma (+10000) or Texas (+20000) somehow manage to win the conference, the committee will not include either in the top four. Unless Oklahoma State (+15000) can cut the mistakes out, they do not have a chance to win the Big 12, let alone the national championship.
Oregon and USC (+10000) have the best chance out of the Pac-12. But they will have to be much more impressive than they were last weekend for the remainder of their short season to even get in the conversation.
So, for the time being, it looks like the door is open for a few other teams to get into the national title conversation. But that door could get slammed shut if/when Clemson returns to form with the return of Trevor Lawrence.
Then again, Clemson’s defense looked vulnerable, so maybe they do not.