College Football Playoff National Championship Odds and Picks

College Football National Championship Odds and Picks

From shortened regular seasons to a Disney World bubble, unprecedented playoff formats and fan-less major championships, 2020 has been an interesting year for sports to say the least. With the NBA playoffs as a prime example, abbreviated schedules and impromptu changes not only affect the athletes playing the sports but also the oddsmakers who work diligently to produce betting markets as well as the fans that bet on them. College football is next in line, and some teams have already begun to experience similar peculiarities as they begin building their resume for the College Football Playoff.

For the 2020 college football season, in particular, online sportsbooks have stayed on high alert around the clock, ready to react to every tidbit of new information and often existential headlines: Big Ten and Pac 12 to cancel fall football season, Big 12 may have saved football this season, and How Jamie Newman went from offseason Heisman candidate to opt out are just a few examples.

The most recent headlines include news that the Pac 12 will discuss whether the league might follow the Big Ten’s footsteps, which just last week voted to join three other Power Five conferencse to play ball in the fall, albeit with a significantly delayed and shortened schedule.

While the Big Ten made arrangements for an 8-game schedule kicking off in late October, the ACC has battled it out on the gridiron for two weeks and eight Big 12 teams have played a non-conference game. The Big 12 will have full participation in Saturday’s slate of games along with SEC schools, several national championship contenders among them, which make their season debut this weekend.

As college football gradually returns across most of the country, protocols vary among the participating conferences. However, uncertainty usually leaves opportunity, and college football futures and National Championship odds are no exception.

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2020 College Football National Championship Odds

All CFB National Championship odds referenced herein are from FOX Bet and accurate as of Sept. 23, 2020 unless otherwise stated. FOX Bet is available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Colorado.

  • Clemson +250
  • Ohio State +280
  • Alabama +350
  • Georgia +1000
  • Florida +1600
  • Oklahoma +1200
  • Texas +2200
  • Notre Dame +3000
  • LSU +4000
  • Texas A&M +4000
  • Penn State +5000
  • Auburn +6000
  • Miami +6000
  • Michigan +7500
  • Wisconsin +8000
  • Iowa +9000
  • Tennessee +10000
  • North Carolina +10000

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CFP National Championship Betting Tips

Fade the Favorites

It’s no surprise that Clemson, Alabama, and now Ohio State are at the top of National Championship betting odds, but there’s more merit fading these teams this year than ever, as college football’s stars, such as Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence or Alabama WR Jeylen Waddle, have an additional defender to dodge when they aren’t on the field. We’ve already seen players ruled out just days and even hours before kickoff. College football futures bettors can account for the randomness by avoiding betting on the chalk, and it actually creates value on teams with longers odds. Plus, betting on the favorites when it comes to futures odds is typically an ill-advised plan anyway. It’s usually much better to wait and use rollover betting strategy instead.

Especially Big Ten Favorites

Oddsmakers have added Big Ten teams to the betting board, but will they be able shake things up and make the College Football Playoff while playing only eight games? Additionally, Big Ten passed stringent protocols, including schools halting practices and games if their team positivity rate is more than 5 percent.

We won’t know how exactly the CFP Selection Committee will approach things, and with little to no precedent, it’s difficult to make an educated guess. Ultimately the committee’s job is to send the best four teams to the College Football Playoff this January, but it’s obvious that the committee’s 13 voters will be in a precarious position if, say, Ohio State ends the season 6-0 yet another top contender finishes 9-1 or 8-2. The safe bet might be to avoid the Big Ten entirely and focus your CFP National Championship picks on ACC, Big 12 and SEC teams.

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2020 College Football National Championship Picks

Texas Longhorns +3300 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

After years of Longhorns fans and media crying wolf, this season Texas might actually be back. I fully expect the Big 12 to be represented in the College Football Playoff, just as they have been in four of six seasons. Each time it was the Oklahoma Sooners who still had a chance to win a national championship in the winter months. The Longhorns have the chance to do what the Sooners never could, though: actually advance and play in Monday night’s title game.

Add the fact that the Big 12 looks as weak as ever, and Texas +3300 is a steal. You can bet on the Longhorns +3300 to win the National Championship at DraftKings, a discounted price compared college football odds at other sportsbooks. If you fancy this pick then you might also be interested in betting Sam Ehlinger to win the Heisman Trophy. He’s currently +1000 to do so at DraftKings. And if you simply you want to cover your Big 12 bases, it’s not hard to do so. Just bet on Oklahoma +2000 at FanDuel. These two teams square off on Oct. 10 and presumably again on Dec. 12 in the conference championship. Odds are the winner will get an invite to either the Rose Bowl or the Sugar Bowl, which are set to host the semifinals of the College Football Playoff.

LSU Tigers +5000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

I already looked at LSU in our SEC Championship betting preview, so I won’t delve too much into them here. However, there have been some changes since writing that over a month ago. Star wide receiver Ja’ marr Chase opted out of the season due to coronavirus concerns, joining Justin Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Joe Burrow as high-profile starters from their historic 2019 offense that won’t be returning to Baton Rouge. But LSU is still LSU, and they have a plethora of blue-chip recruits ready to meet high expectations. The most likely outcome is a 7-win season, which is what oddsmakers predict. That certainly won’t get them to the College Football Playoff, but a surprising 9-win season is in the cards. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

In a season full of unknowns, +5000 odds for the defending national champions are simply far too long.

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Miami Hurricanes +10000 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

The Hurricanes have the turnover chain but this season they’re on the search for championship trophies. Playing in the same conference as the top team in the nation doesn’t make things easy, but after a disappointing 6-7 debut for head coach Manny Diaz, the Hurricanes look ready to compete. So far they’re 2-0 with Diaz’s most impressive win yet came just last week.

Led by D’eriq King, a Heisman candidate in his own right, the Hurricanes posted 47 points on the road against Louisville. Miami was in control throughout as King threw for 325 yards and three touchdown passes. King transferred from the University of Houston, sitting out in 2019 following a coaching change for the Cougars. It’s worth noting that Miami is running a new offense under Air Raid disciple Rhett Lashley. Lashley coached under Gus Malazhan at Auburn and Sonny Dykes at SMU — not bad names to be associated with. Lashley showed that he’s not a one-tricky pony in his first two weeks calling plays for the Hurricanes. Against UAB, Miami’s offense rushed for 337 yards. The Air Raid offense, especially with King behind center, gives Miami’s offense another dimension, raising their ceiling even if they are playing with inferior talent at other positions.

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North Carolina Tar Heels +15000 (PointsBet)

Sticking with another longshot national championship pick from the ACC, the North Carolina Tar Heels ought to be on your radar. Mack Brown left the booth in 2019 to return to Chapel Hill, the place where his head coaching care took off over two decades ago. Leading North Carolina to seven wins and a dominant bowl performance, Brown’s Hall-of-Fame presence made an immediate impact as he revived a football program that combined for five wins in 2017 and 2018.

In college football circles, Brown is known as more of a CEO than an innovative strategist. In sharp CEO-like fashion, Brown pivoted to the Air Raid when he returned to North Carolina. Chapel Hill couldn’t compete with Southern California, as Brown missed on his first swing to hire Kliff Kingsbury, and then on his second swing at Graham Harrell. He finally connected with OC Phil Longo, requesting his Air Raid services from Ole Miss.

A decorated recruiter, too, Brown is a player’s coach who can convince a team of Davids to believe they’re Goliaths in the early stages of a rebuilding process. At 69 years young, and despite a seven-year sabbatical, Brown proved he hadn’t lost a step last Sept. 28 when the Tar Heels fell merely two yards shy of upsetting Trevor Lawrence and No. 1 Clemson. Aside from their loss to LSU, it was by far Clemson’s closest game of the season, Ohio State included. Now the Tar Heels have a year of familiarity under a head coach who is no stranger to national championships and an OC whose playbook gave the SEC fits. It’s one of the reasons why ESPN’s David Hale thinks sophomore QB Sam Howell is ready for stardom.

To add to the lure, look at how close North Carolina was to winning more than seven games in 2019: they went 3–6 in games decided by seven points or fewer, with their six losses coming by a combined 26 points. Brown knows they aren’t far away from being more than just an ACC spoiler.

“Our goals are different,” Brown said this summer. “Last year, we were trying to beat somebody. We were trying to finish games. Last year, we were trying to get to a bowl game. This year, we want to win the league.”

The schedule also sets up well for UNC. They won’t meet with Clemson unless they make it to the ACC Championship and their only tough road trip comes in the last game of the season against my other ACC longshot, the Miami Hurricanes.

I caught up with College Football DFS analyst and RotoGrinders’ own niche sport expert, Sean Newsham, also known as PSUFans2, to see what he thinks of the Tar Heels.

“The ACC is relatively weak yet very likely to have a representative. ” Newsham told me. “With there being a smaller schedule they have a chance but with Notre Dame in the conference adds some competition.  I prefer UNC over Miami as I think they are a much better team. Honestly UNC might be the second best team in that conference.”

Sold.

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Minnesota Golden Gophers +15000 (William Hill)

While betting on Ohio State is a risky bet with little upside, that’s not the case for the Minnesota Gophers. Newsham likes the Gophers as a darkhorse bet to win the Big Ten Championship and the National Championship.

“Yes, Minnesota took a big hit to their roster the other day with Rashod Bateman opting out this season.  However Minnesota heading into this season still return a great running game and an experienced quarterback,” Newsham said.

Newsham also said Minnesota is a beneficiary of the updated Big Ten schedule. They avoid both Penn State and Ohio State, likely the two top teams in the Big Ten.

“Minnesota is the best longshot option from the Big Ten. They come from the weaker side of the conference and return a good nucleus.”

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For more general betting tips, check out our college football picks betting guide.

If you’re a sports bettor and DFS player, make sure to sign up for RotoGrinders Specialist package to get access to more CFB DFS tips from Newsham (PSUFans2) and the rest of our college football analysts.

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