How Do NCAAF Playoff Rankings Compare to Championship Futures?

On Tuesday evening, the second edition of the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings was released and there was no shortage of movement.

After defeating LSU, Alabama jumped from fourth to second while Notre Dame crept up from fifth to fourth. Iowa, perhaps the most surprising undefeated team in the country, somehow jumped from ninth to fifth following their victory over Indiana. Michigan State dropped from seventh to thirteenth following their 1-point loss to Nebraska.

If the season ended today Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame would make the playoffs. According to early predictions, Clemson would be a 4.5-point favorite against Notre Dame while Alabama would be a 1.5-point favorite over Ohio State.

What’s interesting is that oddsmakers agree on the top four teams, albeit not in that order. The most recent futures from 5Dimes have Alabama (+245) listed as the front runner to win the national title followed by Ohio State (+275), Clemson (+400) and Notre Dame (+1300).

The table below compares the current CFP rankings with the most recent futures from 5Dimes.

Team 5Dimes (11/11) Oddsmaker Ranking CFB Ranking Difference
Alabama +245 1 2 1
Ohio State +275 2 3 1
Clemson +400 3 1 -2
Notre Dame +1300 4 4 0
Stanford +1400 5 7 2
Baylor +1500 6 6 0
Oklahoma +2000 7 12 5
Oklahoma State +2300 8 8 0
Florida +2500 9 11 2
LSU +2500 9 9 0
Iowa +2500 9 5 -4
TCU +5000 12 14 -2
North Carolina +7500 13 22 9
Michigan State +10000 14 13 -1
Michigan +17000 15 14 -1
UCLA +45000 16 18 2
Florida State +50000 17 15 N/A
Utah N/A N/A 10 N/A
Mississippi State N/A N/A 16 N/A
Northwestern N/A N/A 17 N/A
Navy N/A N/A 19 N/A
Memphis N/A N/A 20 N/A
Temple N/A N/A 21 N/A
Houston N/A N/A 24 N/A
Wisconsin N/A N/A 25 N/A

Based on these odds, Iowa is the most overrated team in the nation. The Hawkeyes are the nation’s fifth best team yet they have just the ninth best odds (+2500) of winning the championship. In fact, their odds are the same as 9th ranked LSU and 11th ranked Florida.

Clemson also appears to be overvalued by the selection committee. Currently ranked as the nation’s top team, the Tigers have worse odds of winning the national championship than both Alabama and Ohio State.

On the flip side, North Carolina is being criminally undervalued by the selection committee. Although UNC is ranked just 22nd in the second CFP rankings, the Tar Heels have the 13th best odds of winning the championship.

Since losing their season opener against South Carolina, the Tar Heels have won 8 consecutive games including a 35-point victory over Duke last Saturday. Assuming both teams win out, North Carolina will have a chance to knock off Clemson in the ACC Championship game with a spot in the playoffs likely on the line.

The most perplexing omission is Utah, who is currently ranked 10th by the selection committee but are not listed as an option at 5Dimes. The Utes currently have an 8-1 record with a chance to improve their strength of schedule with games against UCLA (November 21) and potentially Stanford (Pac-12 Championship).

With so many exciting games scheduled in the upcoming weeks, bettors should be sure to bookmark our free College Football odds page for the latest lines, public betting trends, futures and more.

Who do you think will win it all? Is the selection committee overlooking anybody? Please leave your thoughts or comments in the section below.

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David Solar

David Solar is the Content Manager at Sports Insights. He specializes in sports betting analytics and creating data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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