Alabama was a pick for the College Football Playoff for being 11-1. But despite being ranked 4th in all three polls, they’re favored to win the national title (2-to-1), a clear sign that Las Vegas bookmakers believe the selection committee was right to snub fifth-ranked Ohio State.
The Crimson Tide was last year’s runner-up. They dropped to bitter rival Auburn two weeks ago, from returning for the fourth year in a row preventing the squad of Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Rather, Georgia (12-1) beat Auburn (10-3) on Saturday, securing their spot in the four-team College Football Playoff. Oklahoma (12-1) and Clemson (12-1) followed suit with convincing victories in the Big-12 and ACC Championship games, respectively.
That left one spot unaccounted for. Ohio State (11-2) held on to hand Wisconsin (12-1) their first loss of the year in the Big Ten Championship, which many thought should be sufficient to give them the coveted fourth invite.
Head coach Urban Meyer made a case for his Buckeyes after the game, but the selection committee announced on Sunday that the 55-24 reduction to an underachieving Iowa team in November of Ohio State was the difference maker in choosing the team that was final.
So it went to ‘Bama. And on Jan. 1, the Crimson Tide will roll in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans for the College Football Playoff semifinal at the 2018 All-State Sugar Bowl, offering a rematch of last year’s thrilling national championship game.
Alabama, the first CFP team ever to not win its conference, opens as a 2-point favored against the country’s top-ranked team (over/under 47.5). Clemson avenged a mid-season reduction to a brutally bad Syracuse team, a program that has not won anything meaningful since the Donovan McNabb age in the 1990s, making some wonder how that defeat was overlooked by the selection committee, but Ohio State’s loss to some decent Iowa team was not.
The favorites win the national title and if the oddsmakers are right, it will be the second time a team won it all in a year his squad failed to win its summit.
Alabama won a rematch against rival LSU, that year’s SEC champions.
Alabama is not a favorite to win its fifth title under Saban. His team hardly gets the nod over Clemson (11-to-5). That means Las Vegas gamblers have plenty of confidence in the defending champions.
Oklahoma, seeking its first national title since 2000, will face Georgia in the Rose Bowl, the other semifinal game, on Jan. 1. One point over the Bulldogs, the SEC champions of Kirby Smart, favors the Sooners, led by Heisman front-runner Baker Mayfield at quarterback.
Against the Spread
College Football Playoff teams, revealing records and their positions .
3 Georgia (9-4)
1 Clemson (8-4-1)
two Oklahoma (8-5)
4 Alabama (5-7)
Betting Odds Breakdown
The game figures to be a high-scoring affair (O/U 60). Oklahoma is 11-to-4 to win the national title. Under first-year coach Lincoln Riley, the Sooners bounced back from a home loss to Iowa State in early October, winning its final eight games.
The Sooners have scored at least 40 points, if you love betting the over/under. Granted, that has been not a Georgia team, against Big 12 defenses. But with Mayfield (4,340 yards passing) under centre, it is tough for any defense to include Oklahoma’s offense.
When there’s a team out there, however, that may keep the Sooners’ offense in check, it’s the stout Georgia defense, a unit that allowed just 13.2 points per game. The Bulldogs (7-to-2 to win it all) are the least likely playoff team to win the entire shebang, based on the odds.
The winners of each semifinal game will square off at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Jan. 8 to ascertain the 2018 college football national champion.