There is a disparity in the odds on the pair of powerhouses that have been 1A and 1B in college football for three seasons.
Four weeks out from the first kickoff of the season, the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide are the +180 favorite on the college football championship odds, while the Clemson Tigers are posted at +550, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The dueling dynasties have met in the College Football Playoff three seasons in a row, with Alabama winning in the 2015 title game, while Clemson won the 2016 title game before the Crimson Tide won a rubber match in the last season’s semifinal.
Last season illustrated that a one-loss Alabama team will always get a spot in the CFP. The main questions with the Crimson Tide involve how the quarterback controversy between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa plays out and whether having to replace 12 NFL draft picks proves to be too much for even coach Nick Saban.
Clemson might have more upside. Lines win championships and the Tigers’ 17 returning starters include three defensive linemen, including ends Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell, who earned All-America honors last season. Clemson also managed to be a national semifinalist even though quarterback Kelly Bryant was in his first season as the starter.
The Ohio State Buckeyes (+750) and Georgia Bulldogs (+850) are the only other teams with less than double-digit odds. The Michigan Wolverines (+2000), Oklahoma Sooners (+2000), Washington Huskies (+2000), Penn State Nittany Lions (+2500), Wisconsin Badgers (+2500) and Auburn Tigers (+3000) also round out the top of the board.
Ohio State is loaded and has a promising passing game with QB Dwayne Haskins, but will have to contend with a deep Big Ten conference and a schedule that includes away games against Penn State, Michigan State (+4500) and TCU (+10000).
Georgia has also lost big-name talent to the NFL, but retains QB Jake Fromm and key elements from an outstanding defense. The Bulldogs came within a play or two of slaying Alabama in last season’s national championship game, and the adage that it’s tough to beat the same team twice in a row could come into play if they end up meeting in the SEC championship game in early December.
While the SEC isn’t as deep as it was a decade ago, its best have thrived under the CFP format. The same hasn’t been true for the Big Ten and Pac-12 over the last three seasons. The past doesn’t always predict the future, but bettors will need to really be sold on the likes of Washington or Wisconsin, even with candidate on the Heisman Trophy odds Jonathan Taylor, before making a longshot play on either of those teams to break the cycle.
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