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Rankings vs. title odds: Which should we believe?

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The committee says one thing, but Vegas begs to differ

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Notre Dame vs Alabama Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The College Football Playoff committee released their penultimate batch of rankings on Tuesday evening, and we’re now just days away from finding out which four teams will compete for the 2021 National Championship. Those rankings seem to give a pretty clear picture who the favorites are to win a title, but does Vegas agree? Let’s take a look.

All odds* courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Georgia Bulldogs (12-0)

RANKINGS: No. 1
TITLE ODDS: No. 1 (-220)

It’s no surprise that Georgia is tops in both categories. They’re been the dominant team in college football all season, and at this point, them not winning it all would be a shock to everyone.

Michigan Wolverines (11-1)

RANKINGS: No. 2
TITLE ODDS: No. 3 (+850)

This one is pretty surprising, given that A) Michigan has a much better resume than Alabama with their win over Ohio Sate, and B) Michigan seems to have the much easier path to the Playoff, facing Iowa in their conference championship game rather than Georgia.

Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

RANKINGS: No. 3
TITLE ODDS: No. 2 (+650)

Vegas giving Bama the second-highest odds of winning a title makes you wonder: Do they believe the Tide can get in the Playoff even if they lose to Georgia? It seems unlikely, but it doesn’t seem like they’d be getting such good odds if they had to beat UGA just to have a shot.

Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0)

RANKINGS: No. 4
TITLE ODDS: No. 5 (+1,600)

Poor Cincy, it seems like experts all season have tried to find a reason to doubt them. But if they can beat Houston this weekend, it certainly looks like they’re positioned to make it into the Playoff. But clearly even with that, Vegas doesn’t like their chances of making much noise even if they get there.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-1)

RANKINGS: No. 5
TITLE ODDS: No. 4 (+1,400)

Here’s where I struggle to make sense of these odds. Vegas seems to give Bama pretty good odds of getting in even if they lose to Georgia, but they also give OSU better odds of winning than Cincinnati. Do they think Oklahoma State jumps the Bearcats even if both teams win? Do they just think Cincy doesn’t have the horses to win even if they make it?

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-1)

RANKINGS: No. 6
TITLE ODDS: No. 6 (+2,500)

Here’s where we start getting to teams that would need significant help. It seems like Notre Dame would need at least one of either Oklahoma State or Cincinnati to lose, perhaps both. If they don’t get both to lose, they’d have to count on Alabama or Michigan falling significantly in the rankings, and historically, the committee has shied away from punishing teams too harshly for a title game loss (particularly if it rewards a team who didn’t play in a title game at all).

Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2)

RANKINGS: No. 7
TITLE ODDS: No. 7 (+10,000)

It’s hard for me to see a single scenario where the Buckeyes make it in, honestly, Even if there’s utter chaos ahead of them, you have a two-loss Baylor team that, with a win over No. 5 Oklahoma State, would surely jump the two-loss teams in front of them who didn’t even play for a conference championship. I disagree strongly with both the rankings and the odds on this one.

Ole Miss Rebels (10-2)

RANKINGS: No. 8
TITLE ODDS: T-No. 10 (+20,000)

Vegas got this one right. As good a season as the Rebs had, they have zero shot at making the Playoff, no matter what chaos happens in front of them.

Baylor Bears (10-2)

RANKINGS: No. 9
TITLE ODDS: T-No. 10 (+20,000)

I feel like Baylor is too low in both of these categories. They have a better win in Oklahoma than Ohio State or Ole Miss have, and they also qualified for their conference title game. The Bears would need a lot of help in front of them (Bama gets blown out, Cincinatti loses), but I don’t think their Playoff hopes are fully dashed just yet, even if it’s a longshot.

Oregon Ducks (10-2)

RANKINGS: No. 10
TITLE ODDS: No. T-No. 10 (+20,000)

Oregon has a very similar resume to Baylor, but the difference is that the Ducks have a 31-point loss on their resume (seems like that would be a hard thing for the committee to get past) and their game this weekend is against a lower-ranked opponent (No. 17 rather than No. 5). I find it hard to justify these two teams having the same title odds, because I think Baylor’s chances at getting in are still greater than zero.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Vegas actually has Iowa and Pitt with better odds than Baylor at winning the national championship, which seems preposterous given their current rankings, but hey, what do I know.

Poll

Other than Georgia, who do you think should be the favorite to win it all?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Alabama
    (98 votes)
  • 42%
    Michigan
    (108 votes)
  • 11%
    Oklahoma State
    (29 votes)
  • 3%
    Cincinnati
    (10 votes)
  • 3%
    Other
    (10 votes)
255 votes total Vote Now

*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.