Will No. 1 Team Finally Win College Football Playoff?
The 2016 season is only Year 3 of the College Football Playoff and already many around the nation are clamoring for the format to be changed from four teams to eight. Fans of Big Ten champion Penn State are bitter the Nittany Lions didn’t make the playoff despite winning what was the nation’s best conference this season and also beating Ohio State, which is a national semifinalist.
The Big 12 isn’t too happy missing the CFP for the second time in three season. It’s partly why the Big 12 is bringing back a conference championship for 2017 even though there are only 10 Big 12 schools and there won’t be divisions.
Of course this year’s playoff is on New Year’s Eve for the second year in a row, but at least NYE falls on a Saturday and thus TV ratings and betting interest should rise after both fell last year with NYE falling on a Thursday. In the first playoff game, No. 1 Alabama of the SEC faces No. 4 Washington of the Pac-12 in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The Tide once were as large as 16.5-point favorites on BetOnline college football odds but are now down to -14 with Washington taking late action.
Alabama will have a significant location advantage in the semifinals in playing not far from campus in Atlanta. And the Crimson Tide know the Georgia Dome quite well in winning the past two SEC Championship Games handily there against Florida. It’s a trip across country for Washington. And don’t rule out this being important: the Huskies aren’t familiar with playing in a dome. So noise from all those Alabama fans could be an issue when UW has the ball. The Huskies are +1100 national championship long shots.
Coach Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide are the -230 favorites to repeat as national champions but the top-seeded school going in has yet to win the College Football playoff. In 2014, Alabama was the No. 1 team and a 7.5-point favorite in the Sugar Bowl semifinal against No. 4 Ohio State but lost 42-35 thanks to a big day from Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott, now the NFL Rookie of the Year favorite and perhaps MVP leader as well with the Dallas Cowboys.
Meanwhile, in the other semifinal game this New Year’s Eve, No. 2 Clemson faces No. 3 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes opened at -3 and are currently -3.5 at BetOnline. That total has dropped from 61.5 to 58.5. OSU is the second-favorite at +325 to win its second national championship in three years while Clemson is +600. Alabama beating Ohio State in the title game is the +115 favored result.
Clemson was the No. 1 team in the 2015 College Football Playoff as the nation’s only unbeaten. The Tigers were given little respect in the Orange Bowl semifinals against No. 4 Oklahoma as 3.5-point underdogs but dominated in the second half for a 37-17 victory. And in the national title game, Clemson was +6 against Alabama and lost a barn-burner 45-40.
So a No. 4 (Ohio State) seed and No. 2 (Alabama) have won the first two College Football Playoffs. The two No. 3 seeds have both been blown out in their semifinals: Florida State was crushed 59-20 by Oregon in two seasons ago in the Rose Bowl and Michigan State was dominated by Alabama 38-0 in last year’s Cotton Bowl.
If you don’t want to bet on No. 1 Alabama at -230 to win it all again this year, BetOnline allows you to group the others into a field prop at +190. History says you should take the field.