How to Bet College Football Playoff Championship Futures

The College Football Playoff selection committee has spoken and, although school like Penn State may feel slighted, it’s tough to argue with the selections. The top four were unveiled on Sunday with Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington getting the nod. Alabama (13-0) will meet Washington (12-1) in the Peach Bowl while Clemson (12-1) will take on Ohio State (11-1) in the Fiesta Bowl. Both semifinal games will take place on New Year’s Eve, with the championship game scheduled for January 9.

Alabama opened as 13.5-point favorites against Washington, but public money has since moved the line to Alabama -16.5 across the market. The Crimson Tide entered the season as the favorite to win the National Championship, but they’re now the odds-on favorite. In fact, BetOnline is currently offering Alabama -240 with the field (all three other schools) listed at +200.

At Sports Insights, we constantly preach the importance of having accounts at multiple sportsbooks. This allows bettors to shop for the best line, and ensure that you’re getting the best possible number before placing a wager. Bettors should ideally have access to at least three sportsbooks: one sharp (like Bookmaker or Heritage), one square (like Bovada or Sports Interaction) and one reduced juice (like Pinnacle or 5Dimes). That’s true whether you’re betting a single game or placing a future bet.

The table below displays the current National Championship futures. As you can see, the odds vary significantly depending on the sportsbook.

School 5Dimes BetOnline Bovada Greek Heritage SIA Westgate
Alabama -260 -240 -240 -285 -260 -303 -225
Ohio State +500 +500 +525 +325 +475 +450 +350
Clemson +810 +650 +550 +600 +810 +750 +600
Washington +1450 +1000 +1100 +1800 +1500 +1800 +1500

While many bettors will likely be taking National Championship futures, I wanted to determine whether it would be advisable to place consecutive moneyline wagers. Rather than placing one bet, bettors could instead roll over the moneyline and take their favorite team to win straight up. But is that a profitable strategy?

Earlier this week, 5Dimes posted lookahead lines for potential National Championship matches. Using these odds, I was able to determine how much money bettors would make by rolling over the moneyline rather than placing a future bet. For the sake of continuity, we have compared the current moneyline and futures at 5Dimes.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Option 1: The Crimson Tide are -1000 moneyline favorites against Washington, meaning a $100 wager would yield a $10 profit if they win. Based on the lookahead lines, Alabama would be -380 moneyline favorites against Ohio State and -505 moneyline favorites against Clemson. Rolling over that initial $110 wager would yield $138.95 in a matchup with Ohio State and $131.78 in a matchup with Clemson.

Option 2: Wagering $100 on Alabama to win the National Championship at -240 would yield a profit of $41.67 and a total return of $141.67. Regardless of their opponent, Alabama would be a massive favorite in the National Championship. Therefore, it’s actually smarter to bet Alabama to win the National Championship as opposed to rolling over a moneyline wager.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Option 1: The Buckeyes are -165 moneyline favorites against Clemson, meaning a $100 wager would yield a $60.61 profit if they win. Based on the lookahead lines, Ohio State would be -150 moneyline favorites against Washington and +290 moneyline underdogs against Alabama. Rolling over that initial $160.61 wager would yield $267.68 in a matchup with Washington and $626.38 in a matchup with Alabama.

Option 2: Wagering $100 on Ohio State to win the National Championship at +500 would yield a profit of $500 and a total return of $600. That means it would be more profitable to roll over the moneyline if they were to play Alabama, but it would be more profitable to take their future price if they play Washington. However, this is not a 50/50 proposition. Based on the current moneyline, there’s an 87.2% implied probability that Alabama will beat Washington.

That means there’s an 87.2% probability that moneyline bettors would make $626.38 and a 12.8% probability they would make $267.68. That’s works out to an expected value of $580.20. In other words, it’s smarter to take the Ohio State future price if your sportsbook is offering +481 or better.

3. Clemson Tigers

Option 1: The Tigers are +145 moneyline underdogs against Ohio State, meaning a $100 wager would yield a $145 profit if they win. Based on the lookahead lines, Clemson would be -120 moneyline favorites against Washington and +365 moneyline underdogs against Alabama. Rolling over that initial $245 wager would yield $449.17 in a matchup with Washington and $1,139.25 in a matchup with Alabama.

Option 2: Wagering $100 on Clemson to win the National Championship at +810 would yield a profit of $810 and a total return of $910. That means it would be more profitable to roll over the moneyline if they were to play Alabama, but it would be more profitable to take their future price if they play Washington. Once again, this is not a 50/50 proposition and there’s an 87.2% implied probability that Alabama will beat Washington.

That means there’s an 87.2% probability that moneyline bettors would make $1,139.25 and a 12.8% probability they would make $449.17. That’s works out to an expected value of $1050.47. Since no sportsbook is offering a future price of +951 or greater, it would be more profitable to roll over the Clemson moneyline in consecutive games.

4. Washington Huskies

Option 1: The Huskies are +650 moneyline underdogs against Alabama, meaning a $100 wager would yield $650 if they win. Based on the lookahead lines, Washington would be +120 moneyline underdogs against Ohio State and -110 moneyline underdogs against Clemson. Rolling over that initial $750 wager would yield $1650 in a matchup with Ohio State and $1431.82 in a matchup with Clemson.

Option 2: Wagering $100 on Washington to win the National Championship at +1450 would yield a profit of $1450 and a total return of $1550. Regardless of their opponent, Washington would be a small underdog in the National Championship. Therefore, it’s actually smarter to bet Washington to win the National Championship as opposed to rolling over a moneyline wager — especially when you consider that oddsmakers would likely be forced to shade the line in the National Championship game if Washington upsets Alabama.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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