College Football Playoff Betting Odds: A Lack of Parity in 2022

Aug 23, 2022

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There are three teams atop the betting board for the College Football Playoff national championship. Alabama leads the way at +180 with Ohio State (+300) and Georgia (+425) the only other teams given better than +500 odds to win it all this season. Those three teams have combined to win five of the eight national titles since the CFP was instituted in 2014. What is interesting though is how heavily favored these three teams are in 2022.

Alabama at +180 is the heaviest preseason CFP national championship favorite in the playoff era. In 2018, the Crimson Tide was given +175 odds to win and just last year head coach Nick Saban’s team was a +260 favorite to win the CFP title. Even more interesting is that only one of the preseason favorites in the CFP era has gone on to win the national championship. That would also be Alabama which did so in 2017 as a preseason +250 favorite.

College football bettors should be aware that while the preseason favorite has only won the national title one time, the favorite has gone on to win at least 90 percent of its games in all but one season. In 2020, Clemson stumbled a bit and ended up 10-2 (.833). The bottom line is that preseason powers are usually right in the thick of the playoff mix throughout the duration of a season.

While the preseason favorite typically doesn’t win a title but has a strong season, it is rare that favorites dominate the top of the board like they do this year. If you take the adjusted probability (factoring out the juice) of Alabama, Ohio State, and Georgia each winning this year’s CFP national championship, and add them all together, you will get 75.8 percent. There is a three-in-four chance that one of those three teams is going to win it all this year.

Never in the history of the CFP has the top been so heavy. In 2020 the trio of Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia accounted for an adjusted win probability of 69 percent. The Crimson Tide, of course, has been one of the top three favorites to win the CFP title in each of its eight seasons (including 2022). Georgia, Clemson, and Ohio State also dominate the top three, but only three times has the top three had higher than a 65 percent adjusted win probability.

Expect the dominance to continue in the future. Success promotes recruiting and recruiting top athletes helps to promote success. Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State accounted for nearly one-third of all of the first-round selections in the 2022 NFL draft. Georgia set a record (15) for players taken in a seven-round draft and the Bulldogs had five defenders taken in the first round. That is also a record.

Georgia lost all of that talent yet the Bulldogs are still one of the top three favorites to win this year’s national championship. Plus, both Georgia and Alabama hail from the SEC. Last year, Alabama won the SEC title, but Georgia still made the CFP. Ohio State lost to Michigan in their final regular season game otherwise they may have been playing for another title.

After the top three, the next two teams on the board are Clemson and USC. Their combined adjusted win probability is just 12.8 percent. After USC, the rest of the board in 2022 features the worst odds for all teams outside the top five in the history of the CFP. It would appear that college football in 2022 is a little top-heavy.

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