College Football Bowl Games

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College Football Bowl Season Odds Breakdown

Four weeks ago, the Alabama Crimson Tide were the top team in the polls – and in a virtual tie with their CFP rivals, the Clemson Tigers on the 2020 National Championship betting board. It seemed inevitable that these two teams would meet yet again for the title on January 13 at the Superdome.

Four weeks is an eternity in college football. Alabama (9-1 SU, 5-5 ATS) lost their No. 1 spot after getting spanked by the LSU Tigers, then they lost QB Tua Tagovailoa to a dislocated hip during their Week 12 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Now the Tide have fallen to No. 5 on the College Football Playoff rankings, and they’ll be scrambling just to make a New Year’s Six Bowl – a Sugar Bowl date with the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners being their likeliest landing spot.

 

College Football Championship Odds: The Favorites

The Tide could still vault back into the top four and make the Playoff. But with Mac Jones taking over at quarterback for Tagovailoa, Alabama’s odds to win the 2020 National Championship have sunk from +235 in October to +1200 at press time. That leaves ‘Bama on the outside for now, looking in at the following four teams:

 

1. Ohio State Buckeyes (+190)

They’re the No. 2 team on the CFP rankings for Week 13, but Ohio State (10-0 SU, 8-2 ATS) have the shortest 2020 National Championship bowl game odds of the bunch – and deservedly so. The Buckeyes have gone undefeated in the toughest conference in the FBS this year, putting away each of their opponents by at least 24 points. They even took the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers to the woodshed in Week 9, winning 38-7 as 14.5-point home favorites.

But nothing’s written in stone in the Big Ten. OSU still have to get through the Penn State Nittany Lions (No. 9 in the CFP rankings) and Michigan State Wolverines (No. 12) before playing in the Big Ten Football Championship Game on December 7 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Run that gauntlet, and the Buckeyes will remain favorites to win the National Championship Game.

2. Louisiana State Tigers (+250)

As tough as the Big Ten is, there’s more concentrated talent at the top of the SEC, which is one of the reasons No. 1-ranked LSU find themselves as second favorites on the NCAA bowl games odds board. The Fighting Tigers (10-0 SU, 6-4 ATS) are also not nearly as well-rounded as Ohio State, relying on their new spread offense to carry the load. It’s working great for QB Joe Burrow, the runaway favorite at –1200 to win the Heisman Trophy, but will it work when it matters most?

We might get our answer on December 7 at the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. The Tigers should get there undefeated after facing the Arkansas Razorbacks and Texas A&M Aggies, but then, if the script plays out, they’ll have to play the No. 4 team on this list – and it might not be a walk in the park.

3. Clemson Tigers (+275)

Believe it or not, the defending champs weren’t even in the top four when the first CFP rankings came out for Week 11. But Clemson (11-0 SU, 8-3 ATS) are back in at the expense of Alabama – and Penn State – and while they’ve faced incredibly soft competition this year in the ACC, the Tigers have performed at a very high level. They might even be better than last year’s model, now that their defense is among the best in the nation. However, Clemson’s title odds are only third on this list; at the moment, chances are they’ll have to play Ohio State in the CFP semifinals, at the December 28 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale.

4. Georgia Bulldogs (+700)

After coming so close in recent years to dethroning Alabama in the SEC, the Bulldogs (9-1 SU, 6-4 ATS) look like they’ll have to beat LSU instead for the conference title and a spot in the Playoff. That might be exactly what the doctor ordered; Georgia has one of the better defenses in college football, and just enough offensive punch to deal with the Tigers. However, provided they get through Texas A&M and Georgia Tech, the ‘Dawgs will probably play the underdog role at the SEC title game, leaving a trip to the Orange Bowl on December 30 as their projected consolation prize.

College Football Championship Odds: The Underdogs

It’s one of the oldest NCAA tips for betting out there: Look for value when you’re surfing the futures market. Because of Alabama’s loss and the overall dynamic in both the SEC and the Big Ten, there’s still a glimmer of hope for the four longest shots in the title hunt, and the best value on the NCAAF odds board may be way out West in the Pac-12.

1. Utah Utes (+6000)

The Utes (9-1 SU, 7-3 ATS) are seventh on the CFP rankings, one spot behind the 9-1 Oregon Ducks, but Utah’s strength of schedule thus far has been more impressive, and on paper, they’re better than Oregon on both sides of the ball. Expect these two teams to meet December 6 at the Pac-12 Football Championship Game in Santa Clara; a Utah win and a Georgia loss should be enough to put the Utes in the Playoff, and a Peach Bowl matchup with LSU would be the likely result. That makes Kyle Whittingham’s crew an incredible value pick at +6000.

2. Penn State Nittany Lions (+8000)

In theory, the Nittany Lions (9-1 SU, 5-5 ATS) also have their playoff lives in their own hands. A win over Ohio State in Week 13 would put No. 9-ranked Penn State on top of the Big Ten’s East Division, and if they win the conference title in Indianapolis, the Lions could/should get a CFP invite ahead of the other one-loss teams. That’s a lot to ask with Penn State heading into the Horseshoe as 19-point underdogs; a second loss and a trip to the January 1 Outback Bowl are probably in the cards, but it’s hard to pass up a shot at that +8000 payout with a team this good.

3. Minnesota Golden Gophers (+10000)

Here’s where things really start to get shaky. The Golden Gophers (9-1 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) are the top team in the Big Ten’s West Division, but they’re No. 11 on the CFP rankings, having played one of the softest schedules in the entire conference. If the Buckeyes do beat Penn State on Saturday, it will give Minnesota a chance to defeat OSU for the Big Ten title and make an impression on the 13 members of the selection committee. At least the Gophers can look forward to the Rose Bowl on January 1 – provided they get past Wisconsin at home and win Paul Bunyan’s Axe on November 30.

4. Baylor Bears (+30000)

Yes, even the No. 13-ranked Bears (9-1 SU, 6-4 ATS) have a shot at the Playoff, although the Alamo Bowl on December 30 is much more realistic. First, Baylor will have to win out, then beat the No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners at the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington on December 7, then hope that the other one-loss teams get tripped up between now and the final CFP rankings – which will be announced on December 8 at noon ET. It could happen.

 

*Odds as of November 22nd, 2019

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