After months of speculation, the College Football Playoff is set. No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Washington and No. 2 Clemson will face off against No. 3 Ohio State. We know the pairings, which team(s) offer value to win the third edition of the playoff?

To determine if a team has value we look at what their current odds are to win the title at 5dimes and compare that to the projected chance they win based on fivethirtyeight.com’s simulation. For example, Alabama is -325 to repeat. In order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Tide they would need to win the title 76.5% (which is 325/(100+325) of the time. Bama is projected to win the College Football Playoff just 39.0% of the time, meaning there is no value in placing a bet at -325 odds.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Current odds: +550, Implied Probability: 15.4%

Buckeyes win the title 25% of the time

The Buckeyes didn’t play in the Big Ten Championship and it doesn’t matter. Ohio State is in the four-team tournament once again and Urban Meyer’s team is a threat to win it all. With four wins against ranked teams including two on the road, Ohio State will be a tough out.

Clemson Tigers

Current odds: +1000, Implied Probability: 9.1%

Tigers win the title 18.0% of the time

Few teams can match Clemson’s skill and talent on offense. DeShaun Watson is a Heisman candidate and led the Tigers to the title game last year. After setting a record for most yard (478) in a national championship game against Bama a year ago, it would be silly to think Watson and Clemson can’t give the Tide a run for their money if they were to meet once again.

Washington Huskies

Current odds: +1000, Implied Probability: 9.1%

Huskies win the title 17.0% of the time

The win over Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship gave the Huskies their first conference title since 2000. Chris Petersen has revitalized the program and returned Washington to the national stage sooner than many expected. Few are giving the Huskies much chance of beating Alabama but don’t count them out against the cover. Teams coached by Petersen are 10-5 ATS as underdogs against ranked opponents.


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The takeaway from this analysis is that the model has Alabama favored but not to the same degree as the betting markets. If you believe the Tide will march to a perfect 15-0 record and a second straight title, throw this out the window. Of course the best teams don’t always win, that is why we watch the games.

TeamOddsImplied Probability (%)Projected Chance (%)
Alabama-32576.539.0
Ohio State+55015.425.0
Clemson+10009.118.0
Washington+10009.117.0