By BetMGM writer Chase Kiddy
After 15 weeks of college football odds, the College Football Playoff is set. Handicappers who love the college game have been staking out positions on who will win this season’s national championship since January, and now we’re finally down to the last four teams: Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and Cincinnati.
There will be plenty of time to check in and analyze all the angles on the college football playoff odds throughout the month of December. But for now, it might be good to open with a few thoughts on how the marketplace has reacted since the teams were revealed during Sunday’s selection show on ESPN.
The College Football Playoff Field is Set
In case you’ve been locked in a cave with a terrible cable package, the playoff stage has been set for this 2021 college football season.
Underdog Alabama handily won the SEC Championship Game over previously unbeaten Georgia to reclaim its No. 1 spot. The Crimson Tide, in pursuit of their seventh national championship of the Saban era, is currently a 14-point favorite over No. 4 Cincinnati.
In the second semifinal game, Michigan’s late-season surge was enough to earn the Wolverines its first Big Ten championship since 2004. Despite playing as the higher seed, it’s a 7.5-point underdog to lower-seeded Georgia.
If you’re looking to jump into the marketplace of college football championship odds, No. 1 Alabama is currently handicapped at close to even money, with the price of +120. Georgia, the consensus No. 1 for most of the season, is just behind at +135.
Michigan and Cincinnati are priced as relative longshots to win the final two games, at +750 and +1400, respectively.
Updating the College Football National Championship Odds
Unsurprisingly, the public’s first reaction to this final stage of college football national championship odds has been to bet Alabama. Nick Saban’s squad was posted at +300 immediately following last season and was available at +325 in mid-November; Bryce Young’s final minute of regulation play against Auburn, in addition to his stellar performance in the SEC Championship Game, has brought many public bettors back to the table for Alabama. (Young’s Heisman Trophy odds have also skyrocketed.)
At BetMGM, about one-fifth of all college football championship tickets are on Alabama – more than any other team.
In terms of ticket movement, the real winner of the 2021 season’s stretch run has been Michigan.
The Wolverines were once a +5,000 championship option, meaning anyone that bought in early has strong handicapping options now, including a powerful hedge opportunity with Georgia. There are quite a few late-comers as well, including some professional bettors. Michigan’s ticket share comprises 18.3 percent of the market, which is second only to Alabama. Right now, there is more money on Michigan to win the College Football Playoff than any other team.
Analytically, Georgia is still the preferred position of most sharp bettors, as the Bulldogs correspond to just 10 percent of all tickets yet make up a full one-sixth of the overall playoff handle at BetMGM. This differential between ticket count and handle percentage is greater than any remaining team, suggesting that pros still favor the team that spent most of the season as the undefeated No. 1.
For what it’s worth, I agree with this position; this is an excellent time to buy Georgia, with a little bit of metaphorical blood in its mouth.
Cincinnati has moved up from +15,000 to +1,400, out of respect for the fact that it does theoretically have a chance to win the 4-team tournament. However, there is virtually no difference between its 6.2 percent of tickets and its 6.3 percent of overall handle, implying that there is no real belief among sharp bettors that the Bearcats have a chance to win the championship.
Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion’s Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. His first novel, “Cave Paintings,” is in development. Follow him on Twitter: @chaseakiddy.
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