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NCAA Football Odds: Predicting The 2018-19 CFP Champions

Alabama(22 titles) @ Notre Dame(22 titles)

  • Where: Levi's Stadium. Santa Clara, CA
  • When: January 7, 2019 7:00 pm EST
  • Moneyline: Alabama +175, Clemson +600, Ohio State +700, Georgia +750, Michigan +1600, Wisconsin +1800, Washington +2200, Oklahoma +2500, Penn State +2500, Auburn +2500, Miami FL +2800, Michigan State +3300, Notre Dame +4000, Florida State +4500, Texas +4500, LSU+5000, Stanford +5000

Imagine that you occasionally find money laying around the local golf course. Would it motivate you to tee it up more often? Your answer would likely be, “it depends on how much money.”

Sports gambling incurs costs on the player over time. Lost wagers, deposited cash, and hours spent researching teams and athletes. But gambling isn’t that costly for the responsible player, especially if she deals with reputable casinos only. Gambling small units is certainly not expensive when compared to golf, hunting, or the American Ballet Theatre. Plus, in other pursuits, you’re either spending money or selling something. There’s rarely a sudden jackpot around the corner.

But the sportsbook can trap players into “winning” a lot without a real reward. Betting on favorites is necessary to win often, but it’s short odds, and the house % is always chipping away. As an alternative, MSB would like to trademark an acronym, “PLC” or Possible Life-Changing bets. Long-shot gambles where the risk is $20 or $40 and the payoff $1000 or more. It’s easy to chop $20 off a personal budget, but hard to find $1000 laying around a sand bunker. PLC betting doesn’t cost much and can pay off in spades.

Let’s approach the 2018-19 gridiron season in that spirit. We’ll pick plenty of favorites to win games and season props down the line, don’t worry. Alabama, Clemson and a few other favorites are likely to contend for spots in the next College Football Playoff. But sending the sportsbook 3 units in hopes of a 12-unit payoff next year is not low-risk, high-payoff gambling. The golden pick is an upset national title.

Sometimes a little PLC makes for a happy holiday. Here’s a look at 3 dangerous, worthy teams sitting at 25/1 or longer futures odds-to-win the final bracket of 4 in early January.

Stanford (+5000)

Wow. This is a strikingly long line for the Cardinal, considering that Bryce Love is currently a co-favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season.

When one of the most consistent powerhouses in the Pac-12 could have the country’s best player, 50-to-1 odds seem almost insane.

Pundits just aren’t liking the cut of Stanford’s jib. A.J. Costello is injured and missed spring football, making the entire offense look clunky in practice. There are worries about holes at defensive tackle, cornerback and safety. But Costello will be back by autumn. If the starting QB is knocked out, a national championship is highly unlikely anyway, so there’s no need to worry about depth at the position when making a futures pick.

Another lineman will step into the gap left by ’18 grad Harrison Phillips. Someone always does at Stanford. Ryan Johnson is a newcomer DE who rates #14th in his class according to ESPN, and the pesky Jovan Swann had 6 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble against Oregon as a sophomore.

When a front-7 is dotted with disruptive athletes, even a fresh-faced secondary can play at a high level. Stanford has a much-higher ceiling than many teams handicapped at a lower price.

Iowa Hawkeyes (+5000)

People have wondered what would happen if a Power 5 squad had a service academy’s grit and determination. Iowa is it.

Though the program was embarrassed by Wisconsin last season, at other times the squad played at the level of a playoff team.

Kirk Ferentz’s men can lose a conference game and still qualify for the CFP. What it comes down to is whether results like 2017’s Iowa 55, Ohio State 24 and Penn State 21, Iowa 19 are flukes.

Nate Stanley is a promising passer who worked through the sophomore blues, and he has one of the best TEs in the college game to throw to in Noah Fant. But the program is built around hard-nosed defense. That might be why Iowa is not even present on some CFP futures boards.

Pundits are concerned about a batch of green-horns at LB. A.J. Epenesa and a host of defensive ends are athletic enough to cover the flat if need be. But the Hawkeyes are hoping to develop similar players up the middle.

Normally, big questions on a defense would be enough reason to rule out a wager. Look at Iowa’s schedule though. The most dangerous visitor is Wisconsin, but the Badgers don’t always match up well with teams they can’t simply hit in the mouth. (Iowa lost to Wisconsin 17-9 in 2016, and beat the Badgers 10-6 the year before that.) Even if it results in a home loss, upset Penn State to go 7-1 and it’s a manageable slate to the end.

We’ve seen enough CFP teams implode on the field that a high-effort, disciplined ‘dog slipping into and through the bracket is not out of the realm of possibility. The squad just has to match up physically against the Ohio States and Clemsons of the world to have a chance. Iowa always fits that bill.

Auburn: Steady at (+2500)

Closer to the top of the board is Auburn at 25/1. The issue keeping action away from the War Eagle line is the program’s struggle at quarterback…but it’s easy to forget how much better the Tigers were at QB last season.

Gus Malzahn is excellent at rank-and-file recruiting, fostering a bruising defense and building a dynamic ground game. His recent bids for a national championship have been crippled by poor QB play on crucial passing downs. Elite signal-callers may not be thrilled about Malzahn’s Neo-Wing-T offense when coming out of high school. The SEC hasn’t been stellar at finding QBs lately anyway, though the Crimson Tide seem to have broken that curse by bringing along 2 excellent signal-callers in Tuscaloosa.

But Jarrett Stidham looked like a winner in the Iron Bowl and rang up a 190+ passer rating when the Tigers crushed Georgia. That’s right – in case anyone forgot, Auburn beat not one,  but both teams that played in the national title scrum in 2017-18.

Kerryon Johnson is off to the NFL, but Stidham has swift Kam Martin and Eli Stove, underclassmen RBs who can execute the playbook and beat defenses up the middle and around the edge. Deshaun Davis will continue to be the heart of the D as a redshirt senior. How are these guys (+2500) again?

Our Picks and Recommended Wagers 

Click here to bet on the Stanford Cardinal to win the 2018-19 College Football Playoff and get a sign-up reward from Bovada Sportsbook.

Stanford is the best stand-alone pick at 50-to-1 payout on the winner. The Tree won’t be swaying over an impossible home schedule, and the toughest road game is Washington on the weekend after Halloween. If Love and the Cardinal aren’t spooked by that one, a Pac-12 title and a trip to the playoff are in sight.

That said, a 3-way, 1-unit-each bet on all of the schools mentioned above makes a lot of sense. Take advantage of low-risk, high-payoff markets on a trio of great programs, and potentially win the farm by betting peanuts.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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