College Football Playoff Odds: Alabama a Heavy Favorite Against Ohio State
As expected, Alabama ran away from Notre Dame as a heavy favorite to reach the College Football Playoff National Championship, but the Jan. 11 matchup in Miami that most experts expected going into the semifinal round isn’t happening. That’s because Ohio State ruined such projections by pulling off a stunning upset rout of Clemson.
Still, while the Buckeyes were impressive in every facet of the game, the latest College Football Playoff odds suggest that oddsmakers do not anticipate a repeat performance. Immediately following the semifinal round, most sportsbooks installed top-ranked Alabama as a touchdown favorite in the title game. Alabama is currently favored by nine points over Ohio State.
Below, we will take a look at that matchup as well as a closer look at the current College Football Playoff odds, history, and everything else you need to know about betting on the biggest game of the season.
Note: Tennessee online sports betting is now live. Featured odds are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
2020-21 College Football Playoff Odds
A look at the preseason numbers show that oddsmakers were pretty dialed into this college football season, even though it was one filled with plenty of turbulent moments.
Among the teams with the best preseason odds were Clemson (-200), Ohio State (-150), and Alabama (-125). All three of those teams remain among those still alive. Notre Dame (+275) had the seventh-best preseason odds, so while the Fighting Irish weren’t among the top four teams, it’s not like oddsmakers were blindsided by them making the CFP semifinals.
Here’s a look at the latest 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game odds:
|Ohio State||+9||+240||OVER 75|
Click here to get 25-1 odds on Alabama or Ohio State to win with FanDuel Sportsbook.
Alabama vs. Ohio State Championship Game Odds
Alabama rolled on its way to the title game and would have been favored by more than a field goal had Clemson taken care of business. However, following Ohio State’s upset win, oddsmakers immediately installed Alabama as nearly a touchdown favorite.
The Crimson Tide opened at -7 with DraftKings Sportsbook with a game total of 76 points. Over at FanDuel Sportsbook, they opened at -6.5 with the game total set at 75.5 points.
Currently, Alabama is -9 over Ohio State and the total sits at 75 points, so we’ve seen the early action both inflate the Crimson Tide’s number while slightly dropping the game total.
Click here to get up to 100-1 odds on the CFP Championship with DraftKings Sportsbook.
Who Will Win 2021 College Football Playoff?
Alabama is in the midst of a perfect season and appears poised to win its third title since the current postseason format went into effect back in 2014.
The Crimson Tide are a solid favorite over the Buckeyes. Prior to the win over Notre Dame, the Alabama was -167 to win the title. Now, they are over -300 at most sportsbooks. Despite Ohio State’s impressive win over Clemson, Alabama still looks like the right pick. After all, they have three of the country’s best offensive players, a dangerous defense and, of course, they have Nick Saban.
Pre-Semifinal Round Odds
Here’s a look at where things stood ahead of the 2021 CFP semifinal matchups.
There were some tense moments for the Crimson Tide during the second half of the SEC Championship Game, but, ultimately, an explosive Alabama offense was simply too much for an overpowered Gators defense. Alabama enters the Jan. 1 semifinal round as the odds-on favorite to win it all, and it’s not hard to see why.
With three of the top four late-season Heisman Trophy candidates in DeVonta Smith, Mac Jones, and Najee Harris on the field, it’s almost impossible to envision how Nick Saban doesn’t earn a seventh national championship.
At the very least, it doesn’t appear that Notre Dame is capable of stopping the powerful Crimson Tide. Following a blowout loss to Clemson, one so bad that there was some uncertainty whether or not Notre Dame would get in despite an otherwise impressive resume, the Fighting Irish a 19.5-point underdog to Alabama. Clearly, oddsmakers see a direct path to Miami for Saban’s squad, and if/when they get there, it will likely arrive as the favorite.
Advanced lines at DraftKings show Alabama as a hypothetical 3.5-point and -152 moneyline favorite over Clemson. The Crimson Tide are also a 9.5-point and -286 moneyline favorite over Ohio State.
Note: while the market has moved on the other three CFP qualifiers, Alabama’s -167 price to win it all has remained steady since initial odds were tweaked shortly after the field was set.
With the likely No. 1 overall selection in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, Clemson has the one player seemingly capable of derailing an Alabama title. Trevor Lawrence was nearly flawless against the Fighting Irish in the ACC Championship Game, helping his team avenge its lone loss of the season. In fact, Lawrence was so good that some, including Paul Finebaum, believe Lawrence should win the Heisman Trophy. While oddsmakers don’t quite see it that way, Clemson remains a threat.
The Tigers enter their semifinal matchup with Ohio State as a 7.5-point favorite and are likely to reach the title game. Still, is there really all that much value in grabbing Clemson at +250 right now? Let’s assume the Tigers get Alabama in the championship game–they’re likely to be in that +200 to +250 moneyline range at that point, so why not wait?
As noted above, the Tigers are a 3.5-point and +118 moneyline underdog to Alabama in the future game odds maket, while they are a substantial 17.5-point and -835 moneyline favorite over Clemson.
Note: Clemson has gained some steam in recent days. The Tigers’ championship odds have climbed from +250 on the day the field was set to +175 following Christmas weekend.
Ohio State (+800)
Before the ACC and Big Ten Championship games, most would have expected a shorter spread for a potential Ohio State-Clemson showdown. Nope. With Clemson looking very much the part of a title contender in a convincing win against Notre Dame, Ohio State failed to make a similar strong impression. Quarterback Justin Fields struggled throughout and Ohio State had trouble putting away an overmatched Northwestern team that certainly doesn’t stack up talent wise.
Still, Fields is one of the best passers in the nation. He should play better against Clemson. If he does, and Ohio State gets anything close to another 29-carry, 331-yard (11.4 ypc) effort from Trey Sermon, well, look out.
In terms of potential championship game matchups, Ohio State is a 9.5-point underdog to Clemson but a 9.5-point favorite over Notre Dame.
Note: Ohio State has seen its odds take a tumble since the field was first set. After initially opening at +500 to win it all, betting action has caused an adjustment taking the Buckeyes up to +800.
Notre Dame (+3300)
Brian Kelly will be able to play the “nobody believes in us” card leading up to the Alabama game because absolutely nobody believes in Notre Dame. At least not against Alabama. The Fighting Irish are a 19.5-point underdog against the Crimson Tide. Maybe that number is too big. Maybe Notre Dame covers. Maybe. But win the game? Outright? After watching Clemson dismantle Notre Dame in a game that was over in the second quarter, it’s going to take an all-time upset for the Fighting Irish to get to Miami.
And if Notre Dame does get there? Well, they better hope for an Ohio State upset. Sure, Notre Dame has that 47-40 2OT win over Clemson it can point to, but everybody else will point to the more recent 34-10 blowout loss in the ACC Championship Game in which the Tigers outgained the Irish by a 541-263 yard margin.
If the Irish somehow survive Alabama, they are a massive 17.5-point underdog to Clemson and 9.5-point underdog to Ohio State.
Note: Notre Dame has seen the above come to fruition. Nobody believes in the Fighting Irish. That’s why their original +2000 price following the announcement of the field has swelled to +3300 in just over a week leading into the Jan. 1 semifinal matchup against Alabama.
Pre-Conference Championship Weekend Odds
Here is a rundown of where the CFP picture stood prior this year’s conference championship games.
A look at the latest College Football Playoff odds ahead of this weekend’s conference championship games shows there are as many as 10 teams still in the mix. Some (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame) have a direct path to the New Year’s Day semifinal games, while others need a combination of help and forgiving selection committee members (Texas A&M, Florida, etc.).
Here are the odds from ahead of championship weekend:
|Team||DraftKings Sportsbook||FanDuel Sportsbook|
In some cases, there exists a huge discrepancy in prices on these teams between sportsbooks. For instance, those looking to back Ohio State receive substantially more value at FanDuel, while teams like Clemson and Oklahoma have better payouts at DraftKings.
The odds also show that despite differing prices, there is an agreement between rival sportsbooks that Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Ohio State are the four teams most likely to reach the College Football Playoff, and, in turn, are also the four teams with the best odds to win it all.
College Football Playoff Contenders
Let’s take a look at how the remaining CFP contenders stack up as the committee gets ready to make its selections this Sunday.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide (10-0) appear headed for a sixth CFP appearance in seven years. Alabama is a strong 17.5-point favorite over Florida leading into the SEC Championship Game. It would require a stunningly poor performance on Saturday night for the committee to leave Alabama out of this year’s field. Like 42-0 poor. Hell, you know what? Even then, I don’t see it.
The equation is pretty simple for Clemson–win the ACC Championship Game and get in. The Tigers are a 10.5-point favorite ahead of that one, but there is reason for pause. The Fighting Irish bested the Trevor Lawrence-less Tigers, 47-40, in an instant-classic back in early November. While Lawrence will be on the field this time, Clemson will need to do a much better job against Notre Dame’s rushing attack, one that that gained over 200 yards in the first meeting.
Ohio State (+300)
From this perspective, Ohio State is the most interesting case on the board. It goes without saying that the Buckeyes must beat Northwestern as a 20.5-point favorite on Saturday afternoon. Even still, there has been some debate about the legitimacy of a potential bid for Ohio State after what would be just a six-win season. Some experts believe that schools like Texas A&M or Cincinnati are more deserving. There is some doubt over how the committee will proceed, but given Ohio State’s relatively strong championship odds, it would seem they are looking at a win-and-in scenario.
Notre Dame (+700)
Notre Dame is in with a win. In fact, unlike Clemson, the 10-0 Fighting Irish should be a able to survive a loss in the ACC Championship Game and find their way into the mix thanks to previous wins over Clemson and North Carolina. This is a team that has won 16 consecutive games dating back to the 2019 season is absolutely rolling right now.
There is no way Texas A&M (or any other team) gets in ahead of a one-loss Notre Dame team. The Aggies pack the most punch but can’t match the Fighting Irish’s win total and aren’t playing for their own conference championship. More on this below.
Texas A&M (+2000)
So, how does Texas A&M get in and why would anyone back them at +2000 odds?
First, they need to dismantle Tennessee this weekend. The Aggies also need help from Northwestern, Notre Dame and Alabama.
If a five-win Ohio State team loses as a 20.5-point favorite to Northwestern, it’s out of the mix. Meanwhile, if the Tigers pick up a second loss and fall as a double-digit favorite, they’re out. Finally, an Alabama win over Florida would kill any talk of the Gators’ revival.
The Rest of the Field
Florida (+4000) – I guess a case can be made for the Gators if they were to pull a stunning upset in the SEC Championship Game as a three-score underdog, but the absurdity of the LSU loss still looms. It’s true that Florida (team no days off) has played a grueling schedule while other teams have had, in some cases, multiple weeks off, but I’m not sure the committee can forgive the ridiculous nature of losing as a three-score favorite at home to a depleted LSU team which rolled into Gainesville on fumes.
Iowa State (+15000) – The two-loss Cyclones are playing good football right now and have an opportunity to take the Big 12 for the first time with a win over Oklahoma. So, what’s the path forward? If Alabama, Notre Dame, and Ohio State each secure conference titles, a fourth spot remains open. At that point, the committee could go with undefeated Cincinnati, a one-loss Texas A&M, or the Big 12 champion. I get the argument for the Cyclones, but I don’t see it.
Oklahoma (+20000) – See above.
Northwestern (+25000) – If the Wildcats improve to 7-1 and win the Big Ten Championship Game as three-touchdown underdog, there is a case to be made for Pat Fitzgerald’s team. But with just seven potential wins and a loss to a horrendous Michigan State team, it would be tough for the committee to get them into the mix.
Cincinnati (+50000) – The undefeated Bearcats need a win over Tulsa in the AAC Championship Game. Like Texas A&M, they also need help–and a favorable outlook from the selection committee. The Bearcats should win as a 14.5-point favorite, but they remain a long shot to make the four-team field.
How to Legally Bet on the College Football Playoff?
An increasing amount of states are offering legal sports betting, meaning that bettors in such states can wager on the 2021 College Football Playoff odds. Online sportsbook operators have launched in such states, giving prospective bettors a variety of ways to place legal and secure wagers on college football as well as other sports.
Among the states offering betting on the College Football Playoff are:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
Markets related to betting on the College Football Playoff include:
- Team to make the playoff
- Team to win the championship
- Semifinals and finals game odds (moneyline, point spread, game totals, team totals, etc.)
- Game props
- Player props
Those looking for information on where to bet the College Football Playoff should know that the top online sportsbook operators consistently offer aggressive sign up bonuses as well as betting promos and odds boosts for marquee events such as the CFP.
Here’s a brief rundown of each.
DraftKings Sportsbook offers new players $1,000 of free bets at sign up and consistently incentivizes both new and current players with a variety of odds boosts and profits boosts. DraftKings is an industry leader in terms of offering creative betting markets, including live in-game betting, player props, and game props.
States available: PA, NJ, WV, IN, IL, IA, CO, TN
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FanDuel Sportsbook offers an industry-best $1,000 risk-free first bet that provides new players with an opportunity to swing big and build their banksrolls following sign up. Of note, FanDuel Sportsbook excels at providing bettors odds boosts and unique parlay insurances that help mitigate the potential losses on big payout plays.
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BetMGM offers new players one of two unique new user bonuses. The first is a $500 first deposit match. The other is a 100-1 odds payout on a no-brainer outcome. As an example, BetMGM consistently runs 100-1 odds when bettors wager $1 on a football game and a touchdown is scored. The first promo offers more upside, but it also requires a more significant up front investment, whereas the second promo requires just a $10 deposit.
BetMGM also consistently offers free bets and current user deposit matches along with bet boosts.
Click here to get a $500 first deposit match with promo code SDS500 at BetMGM.
College Football Playoff Odds History
Let’s take a look at the historical odds of past College Football Playoffs. Some notable mentions:
- The biggest preseason favorite to reach the CFP was the 2019 Clemson Tigers. Ahead of the 2019 season, Clemson had staggering -550 odds to reach to the semifinal round. Of course, Clemson rolled to a 13-0 start, beating Virginia in the ACC Championship Game to reach the four-team field.
- Conversely, Georgia, while not exactly known as a traditional underdog, was +825 to make the field ahead of the 2017 season. That Bulldogs team raced out to a 9-0 start before slipping up at Auburn. Georgia, however, would get revenge a few weeks later in the SEC Championship Game with a 28-7 win over the Tigers that punched their ticket to the CFP Semifinal Round.
Below, let’s explore the year-by-year history of College Football Playoff odds.
|Year||Winner||Preseason odds to reach CFP|
2019 College Football Playoff
Following a run of CFP appearances, oddsmakers juiced up the Tigers to a staggering -550 to make the field. Dabo Swinney’s team took care of business en route to an ACC Championship and CFP berth. The field included:
- Clemson (-55o)
- Oklahoma (+180)
- Ohio State (+230)
- LSU (+500)
Of course, the Tigers would go on to win it all–an outcome not many anticipated prior to the start of the season. Something else oddsmakers didn’t see coming was Alabama (-300) missing out on a playoff appearance.
2018 College Football Playoff
The 2018 College Football Playoff featured a pair of big-time favorites in Alabama and Clemson along with a pair underdogs that, well, frankly, we are classifying as such loosely in Oklahoma and Notre Dame. Their preseason odds to make the playoff:
- Alabama (-270)
- Clemson (-175)
- Oklahoma (+330)
- Notre Dame (+600)
Ohio State (+115) and Georgia (+180) were among the teams with the best preseason odds that failed to qualify.
2017 College Football Playoff
The Crimson Tide entered 2017 as the overwhelming favorite to reach the playoff field at -230. They were joined by another top preseason favorite in Oklahoma and second-tier favorite Clemson. That season, it was. the Georgia Bulldogs that surprisingly crashed the party with +825 preseason odds. This year was a rare year in which a conference sent two teams to the playoff. The participants and odds included:
- Alabama (-230)
- Clemson (+550)
- Georgia (+825)
- Oklahoma (+260)
2016 College Football Playoff
This was a year in which oddsmakers (mostly) nailed the field in the preseason. Three of the four teams (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State) were among the top four schools with the best preseason odds. Only Washington (+500) was a bit of a surprise to the party. Here’s how the participants’ preseason odds stacked up:
- Alabama (+125)
- Clemson (+155)
- Ohio State (+195)
- Washington (+500)
It was a bit of a surprise that the Baker Mayfield-led Sooners (+175) missed out on the field, but the 11-2 Sooners never recovered after losing two of their first three games.
2015 College Football Playoff
The 2015 field was one of the rare years that featured multiple surprises. CFP staple Alabama was joined by Clemson, Michigan State and Oklahoma. In the cases of Clemson and Oklahoma, keep in mind that 2015 was a season in which not too many people saw championship upside in these schools.
- Alabama (+190)
- Clemson (+525)
- Michigan State (+550)
- Oklahoma (+800)
TCU was among the schools with the best preseason odds at +190, but the Horned Frogs fell short after a heartbreaking 30-29 loss to Oklahoma just before Thanksgiving.
2014 College Football Playoff
The first year of the current format featured heavy preseason favorites such as Florida State, Alabama and Oregon as well as a Ohio State. The inaugural field:
- Alabama (-120)
- Florida State (-250)
- Ohio State (+500)
- Oregon (+125)
Winner: Ohio State
College Football Playoff Appearances by School
Clemson and Alabama each lead the way with six college football playoff appearances and two national titles. A look at the full list by schools.
College Football Playoff Appearances by Conference
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the SEC leads the way in terms of College Football Playoff appearances, wins, win percentage, qualifying teams and titles. Here is a look at CFP performance by conference.
College Football Playoff Odds History
Interesting notes from the history of College Football Playoff odds
- The biggest favorite ever going into a season to make the four-team playoff field was Clemson in 2019 with -550 odds. Clemson did, in fact, make the playoff that year.
- The most unlikely team to make the four-team field based on odds entering the season was Georgia with +825 odds in 2017.