Halfway Point Heat Check: Teams To Buy For College Football Playoff


My philosophy on futures has always been pretty clear. The only time to buy futures before the season starts is if you think that number will shrink during the season of the particular sport in the market you are betting in. In college football, this becomes somewhat easy because with so many lay ups on the schedule for each team, you can somewhat nail down only 2-3 spots that a team’s loss or two could come from.

Now that we are just about at the halfway point of the season, it’s a great time to start grabbing some of your long positions now that teams have gotten that first loss, and whether it came from the spot you expected or not, you somewhat know what each team is. So with the landscape somewhat set and given the remaining schedule, here are a few teams that I will be backing whether it be for a hedge opportunity or to let it ride out in the college football market.

1. Duh: Alabama (-125)

Chalk talk to start things off here. Alabama was available for +300 pre season and this price is actually a little short. They are going to be in the college football playoff without question as the only thing that could possibly stand in their way is a loss to Georgia in the SEC title game. Now, this price currently is going to be less than there money line against Georgia and throughout the playoff, so there is some value on them still at this price.

I thought about advocating a ticket on Georgia at 10/1 due to the hedging opportunity that will show itself in that SEC title game, however you’re going to have to lay a pretty penny to back Alabama on the money line in that game. I don’t think Georgia gets by Alabama and there isn’t much value in a losing ticket, it’s just about as safe as a bet as you can find that Alabama will be in the playoff and will knock Georgia out along the way.

Pick 1: Alabama (-125)

2. The Big 10 Bundle

1. Ohio State Buckeyes (+400)

2. Penn State (+800)

3. Wisconsin (+2500)

This is a rare opportunity in the betting market and I implore you to take advantage with the current situation going on in the Big 10. On Saturday, October 28th there is going to be a 5th college playoff game happening and it’s Ohio State (-6.5) Vs. Penn State. As we know, whether right or wrong, timing is everything when it comes to when a loss happens for each team. Ohio State already got their loss out of the way months ago against Oklahoma and it’s possibly the best thing to happen to them.

Let me start by saying this, Ohio State was my pick to win the National Championship pre-season for a variety of reasons, but most notably the fact that Urban Meyer has lost 3 bowl games in his career, and has come back to win The National Championship each year after. So let’s start there. If Ohio State is able to beat Penn State which is a game they had circled coming into the season last year due to Penn State’s upset during the white out game last year, they will be in the playoff. If Ohio State wins, they will knock Penn State out of the top 4, and have the inside track on a playoff spot as Penn State’s loss will have happened later, and there simply won’t be enough time to regroup.

Thus, Ohio State (+400) will face Wisconsin (+2500) in the Big 10 Title game. In this two game span, Ohio State will have knocked out Penn State and Wisconsin (Who are the most overrated team in the country).  Now, let me say this, if Penn State does beat Ohio State on the road, they are getting into the playoff without question, as either Penn State or Ohio State should beat Wisconsin without much of a fight. A great hedge opportunity also exists if you back Penn State at +800 and bet Ohio State against Penn State coming up on Saturday. In the event of anarchy, you can also add in a ticket on Wisconsin at 25/1 because if Wisconsin can somehow upset either Penn State or Ohio State in the big 10 title game, they will get in too. (Spoiler alert: they won’t.) I think Ohio State gets the job done against Penn State, and Penn State is once again on the outside looking in. Timing is everything in life, and in this case, losses. Sidenote: This market says a lot that Ohio State is only +400.

Pick 2: Ohio State (+400)

3. The Irish And Convicts

1. Notre Dame +2000

2. Miami +2500

As I stated above, there is actually set of a sixth and seventh college playoff games, and they take place on November 11th. Now, in truth, I don’t think either of these two teams have much of a chance to win The National Championship but all we need to do is get a team in, and outside of Alabama there isn’t a true “lock”.

Coming in on the AP rankings at #8 and #9 respectively, Miami and Notre Dame are both having fantastic bounce back seasons. The thing is, one of these teams are going to knock out the other when they go head to head on November 11th. There are a ton of moving parts to this one and because of this it presents more than one option. Oklahoma and TCU are also tied into this future as well, as they face off head to head. So, let’s break this down.

Option 1: Wait until November 11th to back the winner (although at a very reduced price)

Option 2: Bet both teams now to get the value of both futures, although one will be worthless

Option 3: Hope TCU can knock off Oklahoma on November 11th (Funny how these two games happen on the same day huh?

TCU needs to beat Oklahoma to open a spot up, because if Oklahoma beats TCU (I think they do) than it thrusts TCU out of the top 4, but likely adds Oklahoma, and that’s not even accounting for Clemson.

Now, if Notre Dame does beat Miami, their resume will be possibly the best in the country, only losing to Georgia by one point, and having wins against 11 USC, 14 NC State, 8 Miami, and 20 Stanford if they can somehow run the table. So if I had to pick one, I’d advocate Notre Dame, but they have been known to lose games they shouldn’t and that matchup with N.C State may trip them up before they can even get to Miami.

On the other side, Miami if they win out will have wins against 13 Virginia Tech, 9 Notre Dame and 11 FSU. Again, both of these teams will need some help, but there prices provide a ton of value. Miami also would have Clemson staring at them in the ACC title game, so proceed with caution.

Pick 3: Wait until November 11th to back the winner of Miami Vs. Notre dame at a reduced price.

4. The Other Side Of The Coin

TCU +2000

Oklahoma +2500

As I touched on above, the seventh college football playoff game also happens on 11/11 as TCU faces off against Oklahoma. This has implications to the whole National Championship playoff picture. At the time of this writing TCU is number 4 and Oklahoma is number 10 and if both teams win out when they meet on November 11th, Oklahoma will probably close the gap, in a winner gets in game.

Now, as Oklahoma already has there loss, although it was a horrible one against Iowa State, recency bias will take over and if Oklahoma beats TCU (I think they will), TCU will be on the outside looking in especially due to their conference. Oklahoma has all the talent to beat TCU, and Oklahoma is notorious for playing up or down to their competition so I think that Oklahoma knocks TCU out here. Until I see a team from the Big 12 make it, I’m going to fade at every opportunity. This also lends itself for my final selection.

Pick 4: Oklahoma (+2500)

5. The Value Play

Clemson (+1000)

As you probably are seeing now, all of these plays are somewhat connected, and the fallout from everyone somewhat knocking each other out leaves Clemson possibly standing alone as the dust settles. The wild card here is N.C State who has the opportunity to play spoiler like no other as N.C State plays 9 Notre Dame and 7 Clemson left.

If you end up heeding my advice and play either Clemson or Notre Dame in the futures market, you can hedge on both by playing N.C State on the money line against both of these teams at huge plus money as well. N.C State isn’t the topic of this conversation however, Clemson has a very easy schedule ahead of them if they can get past Georgia Tech, NC State, and Florida State. Yes, Clemson will have to win out, but they have layups outside of that (Although they lost a layup to Syracuse). At 10/1 Clemson has serious value to sneak into the last playoff spot, and although I don’t think they have the play to win it all, again, we just need them to get in.

Predicted Final Four:

  1. Alabama (Knocks Georgia out after SEC Title Game)
  2. Ohio State (Knocks Penn State out this week and knocks Wisconsin out in Big 10 Title Game)
  3. Clemson (Sneaks in by destruction of everyone else)
  4. TCU/Oklahoma/Miami/Notre Dame (See Above for last team standing)


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