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NCAAF Futures: Alabama Favored To Win Title Yet Again in 2019

It is halftime of the national championship game. Alabama’s offense has been nowhere to be found. The Crimson Tide faithful can see the national title slipping away before their eyes. That’s when Nick Saban decided that it was time for a change.

Out goes experienced starter Jalen Hurts. In comes true freshman and five-star recruit Tua Tagovailoa. The Hawaiian then proceeded to breathe life into a listless Alabama offense and ultimately throw the national championship-winning touchdown in overtime.

Hype had been building around Tagovailoa in Tuscaloosa all season long but the 19-year-old proved that he is the future of Alabama’s football program in that game. Tagovailoa – combined with Saban’s ability to recruit the best players in the nation – has Alabama as the way-too-early favorite to win the national title in San Francisco next season.

The Alabama roster will suffer plenty of turnover but what else is new? The Tide always send seemingly half their starting lineup to the NFL every offseason and suffer almost no ill effects. Plus, if Tagovailoa continues to grow and shows the ability as a pocket passer that he has flashed, then he will give Alabama its first truly elite quarterback in years (maybe decades).

On the other end of that historic game was Georgia, which has the third-best odds to claim the championship next season. Coach Kirby Smart has ramped up the recruiting trail for Georgia since joining the program and the team should have the talent to replace many of its soon-to-be-departed players. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm will be relied on more with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel playing on Sundays next season – but you can also expect explosive D’Andre Swift to step up in the backfield.

2018-19 College Football Champion
Ohio State+750
Penn State+1100
Miami (FL)+2200
Michigan State+2500
Florida State+3300
Notre Dame+3300
Texas A&M+3300
Virginia Tech+3300
West Virginia+3300
Boise State+10000
Kansas State+10000
Mississippi State+10000
NC State+10000
Oklahoma State+10000
Central Florida+10000
Wake Forest+10000
South Carolina+15000
Washington State+15000
Arizona State+50000
Boston College+50000
Florida Atlantic+50000
Fresno State+50000
Georgia Tech+50000
North Carolina+50000
Oregon State+50000
San Diego State+50000
South Florida+50000
Texas Tech+50000
Utah State+50000

Odds as of January 9 at Bovada

Archived Articles

It all comes down to this. Over more than five months of action, the college football landscape has been whittled down to two. The Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs are the final programs remaining with hopes of winning the national championship. 

For an in-depth look at the national championship game, be sure to check out our full preview of the contest here. 

2017-18 College Football Championship Game Betting Odds
Alabama-5 (-110)-210OVER 46 (-105)
Georgia+5 (-110)+175UNDER 46 (-105)

Odds as of January 8 at Bovada


After a regular season that was filled with wild upsets, memorable games and utter chaos, the College Football Playoff field is finally set. The four teams competing for a chance to hoist the national championship trophy are Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama.

That means the Sugar Bowl will see Clemson and Alabama clash for the third consecutive year in the playoffs. And even though the Crimson Tide are coming in as the No. 4 seed, Nick Saban and company sit atop the betting odds to win the national championship.

Though Alabama did not win the SEC championship, making the Tide the only member of the playoff field to not win their conference title, they are one of just five Power 5 schools to round out the regular season with one loss. And though an argument could be made that Ohio State deserved the No. 4 spot over Bama, the Tide’s one loss and dominance against their opponents proved to be a massive edge over the Buckeyes.

Even though Clemson is the underdog despite being the No. 1 seed, the Tigers do have the second-best odds to win it all. Clemson has one of the best defenses in the country – and maybe the best defensive line, period – plus an offense that has really found its groove under first-year starter Kelly Bryant.

As for Oklahoma and Georgia, they both lag behind their Sugar Bowl counterparts in terms of the betting odds. The Sooners are maybe the hottest team in the country behind quarterback Baker Mayfield but their defense is just OK. The Bulldogs are one of the most complete teams in the nation but could be in trouble if they go down and freshman Jake Fromm needs to win football games.

2017-18 College Football Champion

Odds as of December 18 at Bovada


For the first time in the 2017 college football campaign, the Alabama Crimson Tide are not favorites to win the national championship.

That distinction now belongs to the Oklahoma Sooners, who are the new +400 front-runners to go all the way. Alabama (+425), Clemson (+425), Auburn (+425), Georgia (+700), Ohio State (+700), Wisconsin (+900), Miami (Florida) +1600, USC (+10000), TCU (+10000) and Central Florida (+20000) are also available to wager on.

The writing was on the wall for the Crimson Tide after they were upset by Auburn 26-14 in the 2017 Iron Bowl. The loss was Alabama’s first of the season and left the door wide open with the College Football Playoff on the horizon in what’s been a roller-coaster of a year.

Auburn’s odds jumped from +800 to +425 with the win. The other biggest mover on the oddsboard was Ohio State, now clocking in at +700 after being listed at +1200 a week ago, while Miami’s massively disappointing setback to Pitt caused the Hurricanes to tumble from +800 to +1600. The loss all but eliminated The U from playoff consideration.

There’s more value than ever in the 2017 college football landscape. Who are you picking to go all the way?

2017-18 College Football Champion
Ohio State+700
Miami (FL)+1600
Central Florida+10000

Odds as of November 27 at Bovada


Alabama has been the front-runner to win the national championship all season long. There literally has not been one second of this entire college football season that the Crimson Tide have not been the favorites.

However, as the field narrows down, we start to look at Alabama’s potential obstacles in their path to a national title. And of course, in order to beat Alabama, you need to figure out how exactly to beat their top-ranked defense in the country.

Since the beginning of the 2014 season, Alabama has lost four games – 2016 vs Clemson, 2015 vs Ole Miss, 2014 vs Ohio State and 2014 vs Ole Miss.

Three of those games came away from Bryant-Denny Stadium, meaning that getting Alabama away from their home field is important, which obviously will happen if/when Alabama makes the playoffs.

The single biggest factor in defeating Alabama’s vaunted defense has been the play of opposing quarterbacks. The opposing quarterbacks in Alabama’s past four losses completed a combined 58 percent of their passes for 10 touchdowns and just one interception. Two of the three qualifying passers – Cardale Jones did not take enough snaps in 2014 – finished top 20 in the nation in passer rating for their respective seasons. And finally, all four opposing quarterbacks – though not all elite running the ball – had the physical ability to scramble and make plays with their feet when things broke down.

Opposing QB Stats In Alabama’s Past 4 Losses
TeamQuarterbackComp/AttPassing YardsTD/INT
2014 Ole MissBo Wallace18/312513/0
2014 Ohio StateCardale Jones18/352431/1
2015 Ole MissChad Kelly18/333413/0
2016 ClemsonDeshaun Watson36/564203/0

There are 11 teams not named “Alabama” still in contention for a national championship according to the odds. Of those 11 teams, which ones have the mobile, efficient quarterback that may be able to beat the Bama D?

The most obvious choice is Oklahoma. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is easily the Heisman favorite, he is first in the nation in passer rating and top five in passing yards, yards per attempt and touchdowns. Though Mayfield is not going to be rattling off Lamar Jackson-like runs, his ability to move around the pocket and extend the play is unmatched.

In addition, Oklahoma also has a stud of an offensive line that features four players at least six-foot-four and well over 300 pounds. Nobody can stop the Alabama defensive line, but the OU O-line might be able to buy Mayfield more time.

The only other quarterback that meets the above criteria is J.T. Barrett of Ohio State. The senior is sixth in the nation in rating and seventh in completion percentage. Though Barrett is more turnover-prone than Mayfield, the Buckeyes signal-caller also offers more of a running threat that can keep Bama’s defense honest.

This is not to say that only Oklahoma or Ohio State could beat Alabama one-on-one – Auburn will offer a tough task in the Iron Bowl this weekend – but history suggests they have the best chance.

2017-18 College Football Champion
Miami (FL)+800
Ohio State+1200
Notre Dame+15000
Central Florida+50000

Odds as of November 21 at Bovada


As we waited for the College Football Playoff rankings to be released, everyone had their opinion about who belonged in the top four. Alabama was the unquestioned No. 1 but the spots 2 thru 4 had endless possibilities considering how erratic this season of football has been. 

Then the rankings were released and plenty of people were left scratching their heads. Clemson – the team coming off a win against an utterly lost Florida State squad – climbed up to second place.

Don’t get me wrong, Clemson is a good football team, but do the Tigers deserve to be ranked ahead of a Miami team that just crushed a national contender, an undefeated Wisconsin squad or an Oklahoma team that might be the hottest team in the nation?

Not in my opinion. If I had any vote that mattered – which I’m well aware I don’t – Clemson would easily be fifth or maybe even sixth in the country. Clemson has beaten plenty of quality competition this season but a loss to a less than good Syracuse team should be a factor. No?

According to selection committee chair Kirby Hocutt, the fact that Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant was hurt for their loss is factored heavily into the process. That is despite the fact that Bryant played the first half of that game and looked relatively ineffective. The Tigers lost that game because their defense could not stop Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungy from picking them apart.

Hocutt also pointed out Clemson’s six victories over teams with winning records. That is impressive but is beating 5-4 Georgia Tech, 6-4 Wake Forest and 6-4 Louisville more impressive than Oklahoma’s victories over 8-2 Ohio State, 8-2 Oklahoma State and 8-2 TCU?

Clemson is not the second-best team in the nation. Hell, they aren’t even the best team in their conference – that distinction belongs to Miami. Luckily, though, those two teams are already scheduled to meet in the ACC championship game.

Sportsbooks are buying into Clemson, just not as much as the selection committee. The Tigers have the third-best odds to win the national championship but fell well behind Alabama and Oklahoma. In fact, Clemson has only slightly better odds than Miami and Auburn.

We will know soon enough just how good this Clemson team is. The previously mentioned ACC title game against Miami will really separate the men from the boys. But if you’re confused by Clemson’s rankings this week, trust me – you’re not alone.

2017-18 College Football Champion
Miami [FL]+900
Ohio State+1800
Oklahoma State+20000
Notre Dame+30000
Penn State+30000
Central Florida+50000

Odds as of November 15 at Bovada


Over the past several weeks, the Big Ten has gone from stacked with playoff-caliber teams to an afterthought to many pundits. It is true the likes of Ohio State and Penn State are not making the postseason but the Big Ten is still home to one of the five remaining undefeated teams in the nation – the Wisconsin Badgers.

How is it that an undefeated team from a Power 5 conference finds itself overlooked on the national stage? Wisconsin is currently listed at +1600 to win the national championship – behind Clemson, Oklahoma and Notre Dame, who have all suffered a loss this season.

First, you look at Wisconsin’s competition. Yes, the Badgers play in the Big Ten but they play in the West Division, which means they play their entire regular season without facing Ohio State, Penn State or even Michigan State. Instead, their stiffest competition yet has come from a 6-3 Northwestern squad in Madison. And it does not get better, as Wisconsin will not play a ranked team all season long until a potential Big Ten championship game.

Being undefeated against the level of competition Wisconsin has faced is not easy but it is not enough to impress the voting committee on its own. Wisconsin will need to win the Big Ten championship and they will get bonus points if they can do it in dominant fashion.

Another factor playing against Wisconsin is its style of play. Let’s face it – with the College Football Playoff being just four teams, the NCAA wants the sexiest matchups possible. And “sexy” is not exactly what you think of when you think Wisconsin football. This Badgers squad is exactly what you would expect, as they rush the ball behind their mauling offensive line and play suffocating defense. And frankly, viewing numbers would certainly be higher if we saw a team like Oklahoma get in with its pass-heavy offense and Heisman candidate quarterback.

Despite all of these things, the Badgers can still find themselves in the playoff field. They just need to win out and hoist the Big Ten championship trophy. An undefeated Power 5 school simply can’t be ignored. But the real question is: is Wisconsin good enough to compete at the elite level?

The past three national champions have all ranked in the top 20 in the nation in offense, the top 30 in defense and the top 7 in sacks. Defensively, Wisconsin is right there with the prior champions but their offense is sorely lacking. It stems from the Badgers’ limited passing attack that ranks 91 in the nation – no other national championship team in the past three seasons has ranked below 34.

Recent National Champions vs Wisconsin
TeamTotal OffensePassing OffenseRushing OffenseTotal DefenseSacks
2014 Ohio State3225297
2015 Alabama19341831
2016 Clemson1348153
2017 Wisconsin38911665

The lack of a passing game puts Wisconsin behind the 8-ball against the elite competition. The top two ranked teams in the nation – Alabama and Georgia – are both top five against the run. The only team Wisconsin has faced this season with a rushing defense ranked higher than 44 was Northwestern, who held the Badgers to 109 yards on the ground and just 2.9 yards per carry. If that happens again in the postseason, Wisconsin will need to rely on Alex Hornibrook to win a football game. That does not inspire confidence. 

Wisconsin’s upcoming game against Michigan will help figure out if this program can be the last one standing. The Wolverines rank seventh in the nation in rushing defense and if Wisconsin can’t get the ground game going – regardless if they win or not – it is hard to envision them defeating the likes of Alabama or Georgia.

I’m certainly not saying it is impossible for Wisconsin. I believe they are better than 99 percent of the teams in the nation but without a proven track record it is hard to know if they are better than that one percent. From a betting perspective, the value is there to jump on Wisconsin but the Badgers have yet to really pass the eye test this season.

2017-18 College Football Champion
Notre Dame+700
Miami (FL)+1600
Ohio State+7500
Penn State+10000
Oklahoma State+10000
Central Florida+10000
Michigan State+10000

Odds as of November 7 at Bovada


Notre Dame has been hovering in the rankings for the bulk of the season but few have given the Fighting Irish much of a chance to win it all. That is finally changing after their domination of USC and NC State.

Quietly, Notre Dame is in the top 20 in the nation in points, offensive yards and rushing yards per game. Tragically underrated running back Josh Adams deserves some fringe Heisman chatter thanks to his stellar play and when you add in quarterback Brandon Wimbush’s ability to run the football, Notre Dame can dominate the time of possession battle.

Wimbush leaves a lot to be desired as a passer – he is completing just 51.5 percent of his passes – but he is efficient with the football and makes sure not to put his team in an undesirable position. It is also worth noting that the junior has generated five touchdowns with no interceptions in two games against ranked opponents.  

Though the obvious focus drifts toward the offense, Notre Dame’s defense has been stellar this season. The bend-don’t-break mentality has led to the Fighting Irish giving up 349.1 yards per game but just 16.1 points. The Irish have not allowed more than 20 points in a game this season – though detractors will point out only two of those outings came against an offense ranked inside the top 45 in the nation in terms of scoring.

Everything is in place on the field for Notre Dame to become a dark-horse contender for the national championship but the schedule is not nearly as kind. In its remaining four regular-season games, Notre Dame faces two ranked teams (Miami, Stanford) and a team receiving votes (Navy). All three of those teams rank in the top 40 in the nation in scoring offense while two sit in the top 50 in points allowed.

If Notre Dame can survive that gauntlet, then the committee will be hard pressed to deny the Irish a spot in the playoffs. They would then have just one loss to their name – a 20-19 defeat to a highly regarded Georgia team early in the season. That’s the type of loss that can be very easily overlooked considering some of the losses other contenders have on their resumes.

You would be kidding yourself if you think that it will be easy for Notre Dame to pull off this feat with that schedule. However, no team is in the position to silence all their doubters and prove they belong among the nation’s best quite like the Fighting Irish.

2017-18 College Football Champion
Ohio State+300
Notre Dame+1100
Penn State+2000
Oklahoma State+2800
Miami (FL)+2800
Central Florida+10000
Virginia Tech+30000

Odds as of October 31 at Bovada


After a week that saw four top-10 teams take their first losses of the season, Alabama’s dominance has become all the more evident. The Crimson Tide have yet to be challenged this season with a ridiculous +32.6-point scoring margin through their first seven games.

Alabama continues to roll opponents with ease and the Tide now find themselves as massive -110 favorites to win the national championship. It seems crazy to anoint a team as such a heavy favorite with half a season to go but Alabama has really given pundits and sportsbooks no other alternative.

Clemson, the only other team that many thought could challenge Alabama, lost 27-24 to unranked Syracuse last week. Clemson’s passing offense was particularly bad, as the team threw for just 204 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. That loss has caused Clemson to drop from +375 to +900 to win it all.

The biggest faller in the country was Washington State, going from +5000 to win the national championship to +30,000 after an atrocious loss to Cal. The Cougars were downright awful, as their high-powered offense scored three points while no longer Heisman-contending quarterback Luke Falk threw five picks. This is also the time where I take my lumps – after I claimed Washington State was a “legit contender” last week.

The biggest beneficiary in the upset-filled week was Ohio State. The Buckeyes were on the outside looking in after their early-season loss to Oklahoma but have suddenly jumped up the rankings and on the oddsboard after many other ranked squads took their L’s. The Buckeyes now have one of the better losses on their resume and have gone on to play infinitely better since dropping that game.

2017-18 College Football Champion
Ohio State+500
Penn State+1000
Oklahoma State+2500
Miami (FL)+2800
Notre Dame+3300
NC State+3300
South Florida+10000
Central Florida+10000
Michigan State+10000
Virginia Tech+20000
Washington State+30000

Odds as of October 16 at Bovada