2015 College Football: AP Top 25 vs. Oddsmaker Rankings

2015 College Football: AP Top 25 vs. Oddsmaker Rankings

The College Football season kicks off on Thursday, September 3rd with ten games scheduled — three of which involve at least one ranked team. The action continues on Friday night with another five games before we hit the ground running with a full slate of games on Saturday including the highly-anticipated showdown between #20 Wisconsin and #3 Alabama.

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In the past we have discussed how bettors tend to overvalue ranked teams, and this typically creates value on their opponent. We will also frequently hear broadcasters celebrating an “upset” when an unranked team defeats their ranked opposition, even when the unranked team actually closed as the favorite. In other words, uneducated (or square) bettors will put a lot of stock in ranked teams, but oddsmakers typically have the better gauge on the nation’s top teams.

Before the start of the season, we wanted to compare the current championship futures at 5Dimes (a well-respected offshore sportsbook) with the current Associated Press (AP) Top 25 rankings. This will help us pinpoint which teams are being overvalued by pollsters, and therefore most casual fans.

Team5Dimes (8/25)Oddsmaker RankAP Top 25Discrepency
Ohio State+305110
Michigan State+2800T-105-5
Florida State+17506104
Notre Dame+3100T-1211-1
Arizona State+90002215-7
Georgia Tech+10000T-2316-7
Boise State+180003323-10
Mississippi State+10000T-23263
Texas A&M+630019278
Oklahoma State+10000T-23285
Virginia Tech+1700029290
Penn State+20000T-3431-3
Kansas State+17500T-34351
Miami Florida+17500T-34N/AN/A
South Carolina+20000T-34N/AN/A

The largest discrepancies between the oddsmakers and the pollsters involved Michigan, Texas and Florida, but that doesn’t mean those teams are offering value. Along with Notre Dame, these are arguably three of the most popular and visible football programs in the country. Oddsmakers will frequently shade their odds to account for the inevitable influx of public money, so we shouldn’t read too much into these deviations.

Looking past this trio, the most undervalued teams appear to be two SEC schools: Texas A&M and LSU. The Aggies have the 19th best odds of winning the National Championship, however, they are currently unranked to start the season (although they received the second most votes among unranked teams).

This is particularly interesting because their Week 1 opponent, Arizona State, is one of the most overrated teams in the country. The Sun Devils begin the season as the 15th ranked team; however, oddsmakers give them just the 22nd best odds of winning the National Championship. This seven spot disparity places Arizona State as the nation’s fifth most overrated team.

Texas A&M is currently a 3-point favorite across the sports betting marketplace, but bettors should be sure to visit our free College Football odds page for the latest lines, injuries and public betting trends.

While Arizona State is being vastly overvalued by AP Top 25 voters, it’s their mortal rival Arizona that owns the dubious honor of being the most overrated team. The Wildcats only have the 34th best odds (+20,000) of winning the National Championship, yet they open the season as the nation’s #22 ranked team. This 12-spot disparity indicates that bettors are likely to overvalue Arizona, which could create contrarian value on their Week 1 opponent (UTSA +32).

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David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.

David Solar

David was the Content Manager at Sports Insights. He has since moved on to greener pastures.

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