An early line on the favorites to make the College Football Playoff is an overly enthusiastic compliment to Florida State and a blanket condemnation of teams in the ACC, plus Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Florida.
To appreciate the short price on the Seminoles, a primer on betting lines is provided.
The question is will Florida State make the four-team playoff? For yes, the line is minus-350 which means those who believe in the Seminoles, a wager of $350 is required to turn a $100 profit.
For comparison’s sake, the next two favorites are Oregon and Ohio State at even money — bet $100 and get back $200.
The line on the other half-dozen teams offered initially by Bovada.lv falls on the plus side. For instance, Alabama is +125, which means a wager of $100 to make a $125 profit.
Before getting back to the defending national champion and the teams supposedly playing second fiddle on the FSU schedule, the line on other prime contenders to make the playoff:
Michigan State, +225
Not surprisingly, Florida State is the only Atlantic Coast Conference team mentioned in the original e-mail from Bovada.lv, but I thought Baylor with Bryce Petty would be right there with OU as a CFP possibility from the Big 12 and Stanford with Kevin Hogan would be on par with UCLA in the Pac-12.
Quarterback Jameis Winston is at the heart of the support for FSU, but the Heisman Trophy is a burden and some quality help is no longer available. The Seminoles had seven players taken during the NFL draft, fourth behind LSU, Alabama, and Notre Dame. FSU’s group included one first rounder, two second rounders, and one third rounder.
Among the ACC teams on the Seminoles’ schedule, Clemson would normally be the biggest hurdle, but the Tigers lost quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Louisville — Razorback fans know how a Bobby Petrino offense can operate — would have an excellent chance to upset FSU except the Seminoles have two weeks to prepare for the Cardinals.
Maybe it’s the bullseye thing, but Florida State is in the same category as Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner California Chrome — I think both will lose, I just can’t figure out who will beat them.
Because Aaron Murray and Connor Shaw have moved on and Florida is down and the Western Division representative has won five straight SEC championship games, teams from the Eastern Division are noticeably absent from the select group of leading contenders for the CFP. Asked to provide some numbers on Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, the oddsmakers responded with +250, +400, and +600. In other words, the team playing in Little Rock on Oct. 18 is the clear-cut favorite in the East.
Forced to take a stand on Florida State, I would go for the “No” side of the proposition. In the first place, I’m not wagering $35 to make $10. The price on FSU failing to be one of the four is +225 — $10 to clear $22.50. Secondly, an SEC team can lose once and still be one of the elite four, but that’s not necessarily true for an ACC team. Of course, part of the equation involves the possibility of unbeatens from the Big Ten, Big 12, or Pac-12.
To me, Ohio State is the best bet. Wagering $10 to make $10 is not my style and I wouldn’t bet football with somebody else’s money, but I do think the Buckeyes have the easiest path to a spot in the College Football Playoff.
As far as the CFP goes, the oddsmakers do not offer a line on any team that is more than 50-1 to win the national championship. At 50-1 or less are 25 teams and only a dozen are below 30-1.
Arkansas is 100-1, same as Mississippi State, and a longer shot than 10 other SEC teams.