BetOnline posted lookout lines for possible college football playoffs on Saturday.
It is possible to bet money on these lines, but they will be classified as no contest (and your money will be refunded) if they never happen.
The college football playoff committee placed Alabama at No.1 in its initial ranking ahead of the Iron Bowl, which the Tide won 42-13. Alabama is also the No. 1 consensus in the Top 25 APs.
It’s no surprise, then, that BetOnline installed Alabama as the frontrunner against the other three programs that rank in the top four in the college football playoff standings:
- Alabama -4 vs. Ohio State
- Alabama -6.5 vs. Clemson
- Alabama -10.5 vs. Notre Dame
BetOnline has released odds for three other potential college football playoff title games:
- Ohio State -1.5 v Clemson
- Ohio State -6 v Notre Dame
- Clemson -5 vs. Notre Dame
Sunday night, Alabama (-28 at LSU), Notre Dame (-33 against Syracuse), Clemson (-21.5 at Virginia Tech) and Ohio State (-22.5 at Michigan State) were all great favorites this week.
The alleged SEC and ACC championship games are expected to have a big impact on the final selection of the college football playoffs. It looks like No.1 Alabama will play No.6 Florida and No.3 Clemson will get a rematch with No.2 Notre Dame.
But the drama unfolding in Columbus, Ohio can be just as significant.
Undefeated Ohio state continues to lose opportunities
Ohio state is the second-best team in college football, 1.5 points better than Clemson, according to BetOnline punters.
Quarterback Justin Fields completed 79.6% of his passes, leading an offense that averages 45.3 points per game against the Big Ten competition.
However, the state of Ohio only played its first game on October 24, the Big Ten opening weekend due to COVID-related conference decisions.
To compound the problem, COVID-19 has canceled Ohio State games in Maryland (November 14) and Illinois (November 28). The Ohio State game in Michigan State is likely in jeopardy this week as the Buckeyes continue to face a COVID outbreak.
Under Big Ten rules, a team must play at least six games to qualify for the conference title game.
There are loopholes that involve a number of games canceled by other teams in the conference. But Ohio State may have to face Michigan State and Michigan in the next two weeks for a chance at a conference championship.
If the Buckeyes are unable to play the Spartans, they could be sitting 5-0 in two weeks.
It’s hard to predict what will happen from there. Maybe that would still be a strong enough resume to justify keeping Ohio State in the four-team squad ahead of a one-loss Texas A&M or an unbeaten Cincinnati.
Either way, another Ohio State cancellation will make it more likely that the Buckeyes will secure the fourth seed in the college football playoffs.
Alabama will almost certainly get the No.1 seed if the Tide wins. If you believe the punters, it’s possible that Alabama’s payoff is playing the country’s second-best team in the college football playoff semifinals.
The potential advantage of the # 1 seed
The reality is that Alabama, Clemson and the state of Ohio are the top three teams in the country.
Perhaps the committee would make Notre Dame the fourth seed if the Fighting Irish lost to Clemson in a rematch. Clemson lost the first road double overtime game without quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Barring major personnel issues due to injury or COVID, Clemson will be favored over Notre Dame in a possible ACC Championship game rematch.
It seems highly unlikely that the college football playoff committee will force Clemson and Notre Dame to play for the third consecutive time in the semi-finals.
Alabama opened as a 10-point favorite in a notional national title game against Notre Dame at BetOnline, dropping to -10.5 fairly quickly.
Alabama haven’t lost as a double-digit favorite since 2013, falling to Auburn in the Kick Six game and then again to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. The Tides would therefore feel good about their chances against the Fighting Irish.
Another scenario would involve Notre Dame beating Clemson again, which would eliminate the Tigers from the college football playoff challenge and invite a lower team into the field of four.
If Alabama somehow got a rematch against Texas A&M, or if chaos ensued and Cincinnati gained ground, the Tide would be an even bigger favorite than against Notre Dame.
Christopher Smith is a professional handicapper specializing in college football and basketball. He is the founder of Sports locksmith.