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August 25, 2019

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College football by the odds: No end in sight to Clemson, Alabama reigns

Pinpointing two teams with potential value in the 2019-2020 futures market


David J. Phillip / AP

Clemson players celebrate after the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. Clemson beat Alabama 44-16.

Fatigue has set in for college football fans as it pertains to Clemson and Alabama with the two programs having claimed four straight College Football Playoff national championships.

Resignation might be a more worthwhile emotion, because it’s unlikely the Tigers and Crimson Tide are ceding their spots at the top of the sport. Future odds to win next year’s title stabilized last night at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook following Clemson’s 44-16 win over Alabama in this year’s national championship, and the two teams are favored to return in historic fashion.

Clemson sits atop the board at plus-175 (risking $1 to win $1.75) to repeat as champions, with Alabama close behind at plus-250. It’s the first time in at least 18 years that two teams are posted at less than 3-to-1 in the preseason futures.

Last night’s result made it that way. Clemson was 3-to-1 before blowing out Alabama, previously 3-to-2, as 5.5-point favorites.

That feels like an over-reaction, regardless of how lopsided last night’s game looked. One game doesn’t change the fact that Alabama was stronger on offense over the course of the season, and returns the majority of its contributors next year — including a healthy Tua Tagovailoa.

Clemson’s biggest edge over Alabama was on defense, and the cornerstone of that unit — the line — will need to be completely rebuilt.

That’s not to say Clemson is an undeserving favorite coming into the season. Alabama has questions of its own beyond last night’s humbling, namely unprecedented coordinator turnover that will continue into the next year with this season’s offensive playcaller, Mike Locksley, moving on to take the Maryland coaching job.

It’s just that the separation between Clemson and Alabama probably isn’t as pronounced as one game, or now, the odds, indicate. The true gulf exists between the two rivals and the rest of college football.

Let’s flirt with disaster anyway, and scout out a couple potential non-Clemson or Alabama bets going into next season. Check out the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook’s full list of odds to win the 2019-2020 College Football Playoff below with analysis on two of Talking Points’ favorite bets

Clemson — 9-to-5

Alabama — 5-to-2

Ohio State — 12-to-1

Georgia — 12-to-1

Michigan — 14-to-1 This is the ultimate buy-low on an under-appreciated team that’s turned into a near perennial contender. It’s hard to forget now, but Michigan was encroaching on Alabama and Clemson power-rating territory late this season before getting slaughtered by Ohio State in the regular-season finale and Florida in the Citrus Bowl. Give the Wolverines a pass for the latter considering how much of their team sat out of the postseason, and even the recurring problem of the former may be solved next year. With Urban Meyer having departed Ohio State, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is without question the most accomplished coach in the Big Ten.

Oklahoma — 15-to-1

Texas — 20-to-1

Nebraska — 25-to-1

Washington — 25-to-1

Florida — 25-to-1

Notre Dame — 25-to-1

Oregon — 30-to-1

Wisconsin — 50-to-1

LSU — 50-to-1

Mississippi State — 50-to-1

Auburn — 50-to-1

Miami — 80-to-1

Utah — 80-to-1

USC — 80-to-1

Texas A&M — 80-to-1 Despite only a two-game improvement in record, few teams made a bigger leap this year than the Aggies in their first season under coach Jimbo Fisher. The former Florida State coach looked refreshed in his new environs, and got the results to show for it with a 9-4 straight-up record. Two of the losses came by less than a touchdown. Two of the losses were also to Alabama and Clemson. The Aggies will again find both the Tigers and Crimson Tide on the schedule next year, but the tough slate can be seen as much of a benefit as a drawback. No team in the nation has a better chance at a signature win that could set them apart come playoff selection time. With one of the nation’s top recruiting classes coming in, Texas A&M arguably deserves to be priced as the second-best team in the SEC West — not the fourth.

Virginia Tech — 100-to-1

Penn State — 100-to-1

Iowa — 100-to-1

Florida State — 100-to-1

Iowa State — 200-to-1

Oklahoma State — 200-to-1

Michigan State — 200-to-1

Purdue — 200-to-1

Washington State — 200-to-1

Stanford — 200-to-1

Arizona — 200-to-1

UCLA — 200-to-1

TCU — 200-to-1

Baylor — 200-to-1

Syracuse — 200-to-1

Northwestern — 200-to-1

Arizona State — 300-to-1

South Carolina — 300-to-1

Missouri — 300-to-1

Tennessee — 300-to-1

West Virginia — 300-to-1

Texas Tech — 300-to-1

California — 300-to-1

Central Florida — 500-to-1

Houston — 500-to-1

Virginia — 500-to-1

Fresno State — 500-to-1

Boise State — 500-to-1

Utah State — 500-to-1

BYU — 500-to-1

Kansas State — 500-to-1

Kansas — 500-to-1

NC State — 500-to-1

Boston College — 500-to-1

Louisville — 500-to-1

Pittsburgh — 1,000-to-1

Georgia Tech — 1,000-to-1

Duke — 1,000-to-1

Maryland — 1,000-to-1

Minnesota — 1,000-to-1

Colorado — 1,000-to-1

Kentucky — 1,000-to-1

Ole Miss — 1,000-to-1

Arkansas — 1,000-to-1

Wake Forest — 2,000-to-1

North Carolina — 2,000-to-1

Indiana — 2,000-to-1

Vanderbilt — 5,000-to-1

San Diego State — 5,000-to-1

Rutgers — 10,000-to-1

Illinois — 10,000-to-1

Oregon State — 10,000-to-1

UNR — 10,000-to-1

UNLV — 10,000-to-1

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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