First College Football Playoff rankings and odds to win the National Championship

By Adam Burke  ( 

November 2, 2021 07:27 PM

The first set of College Football Playoff rankings came out on Tuesday night. There were a handful of surprises and some downright head-scratchers, but these are going to change a ton as we go forward. If nothing else, we can consider them now to see if there is any equity in a National Championship future or two.

For that, we’ll use the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and look at the top teams compare the odds and the remaining schedules to see if there are any good bets to make. As always, shop around for the best odds on any team that you like.

No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (8-0, + 110)

Georgia was the slam dunk to be the top team in this round of CFP Rankings. Georgia will be the top team until a likely date with Alabama on December 4. There is very little futures equity at + 110, though, as Alabama and two strong teams, albeit not as strong as Georgia, will be a tough draw in the postseason.

The Bulldogs can officially lock up the SEC East on Saturday with a win over Missouri. Georgia is favored by 38.

Remaining schedule: Missouri, @ Tennessee, Charleston Southern, @ Georgia Tech, SEC Championship Game


No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1, + 280)

Alabama still has work to do in the SEC West, as the Iron Bowl on November 27 may ultimately decide who faces Georgia in Atlanta. Alabama would be a small dog to Georgia and favored over any CFP opponents, but the + 280 isn’t a great sell. Georgia could lose to Alabama and still make the Playoff, whereas a second loss for Alabama and the Tide would be out.

Remaining schedule: LSU, New Mexico State, Arkansas, @ Auburn


No. 3 Michigan State Spartans (8-0, + 4000)

This one is a pretty big surprise and it illustrates just how different power ratings are from bettors and how the committee views these teams. The Spartans are undefeated, but would also be an underdog to at least 15 of the teams in the rankings, Cincinnati included, for what it’s worth.

Michigan State’s most impressive win of the season did come last week against Michigan, but the schedule has been pretty weak and the blowout win over Miami doesn’t look overly impressive now.

The Spartans do control their own destiny. If they win out, they’re absolutely in the Playoff. The true odds of winning this week as a field goal favorite against Purdue, beating Ohio State in Columbus as more than a two-touchdown underdog and then beating Penn State at home, not to mention being in the underdog role in the semifinal, are way lower than 40/1. If you like Sparty, a moneyline rollover is the play, much like what I talked about with an Auburn SEC future. It will pay a lot more than 40/1. I’d need a much bigger price to play them.

Remaining schedule: @ Purdue, Maryland, @ Ohio State, Penn State


No. 4 Oregon Ducks (7-1, + 5000)

What the committee values the most varies greatly on a year-to-year basis. This year, it would appear that head-to-head wins matter a lot. It is the only thing that can explain why Oregon is ranked ahead of Ohio State and several other teams that could make a stronger case for being a top-five team in the CFP Rankings.

The Ducks lost to Stanford, which is the worst loss of any of the high-ranked teams, but that win in Columbus carries a lot of weight. What this effectively means is that Oregon should be able to control its own destiny for the Playoff. Win out and the Ducks will be in. Oregon has two tough road games left and perhaps a rematch with Utah in Las Vegas in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but the schedule isn’t terribly daunting.

Remaining schedule: @ Washington, Washington State, @ Utah, Oregon State 


No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1, + 500)

The Buckeyes lost to Oregon earlier in the season, which is why Oregon is slotted above Ohio State. The irony is that the CFP has taught us most seasons that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Perhaps that won’t be the case this season?

Either way, if the Buckeyes run the table and win the Big Ten, knocking off potential top-10 teams in Michigan State and Michigan in the process, they’re in. They’ll knock out Michigan State and won’t have to worry about that head-to-head Oregon loss. This one is really simple. Run the table and play for the National Championship. It’s just that 5/1 isn’t the greatest of values at this point, given that the Buckeyes will be a short favorite at Michigan and could be a dog or a really short favorite in the semifinal.

Remaining schedule: @ Nebraska, Purdue, Michigan State, @ Michigan


No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats (8-0, + 3000)

Would the College Football Playoff committee actually select a Group of Five school to be one of the final four teams? It has never happened before, though Cincinnati just might have the strongest case of any team in the CFP era.

The Bearcats need to keep rooting for SMU and Houston because those are the only two potential ranked opponents left on the schedule. The win over Notre Dame is nice, but Indiana is way down this season and so is UCF. The Bearcats rank 94th in strength of schedule per Jeff Sagarin and that will be held against them.

As things stand based on the first CFP rankings, Cincinnati needs a lot of help because other teams can jump them with ease.

Remaining schedule: Tulsa, @ USF, SMU, @ East Carolina


No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (7-1, + 6000)

This is the explanation as to why Michigan State got ranked so high. Michigan as the No. 7 team is rather incredulous, given that the Wolverines have basically zero noteworthy wins and lost to the Spartans last weekend. Their margin of victory was impressive in games against Western Michigan, Washington, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin and Northwestern, but the Pac-12 Huskies and Badgers are way down this season.

This could also be really interesting down the line because there is a non-zero chance that Michigan beats Ohio State and Michigan State loses to Ohio State and then we get into all kinds of tiebreaker scenarios. Michigan’s path to the CFP is surprisingly optimistic.

I’m not saying 60/1 is a great bet, but it looks to be the most valuable bet on the board.

Remaining schedule: Indiana, @ Penn State, @ Maryland, Ohio State


No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners (9-0, + 1200)

No team got punished more than undefeated Oklahoma with the first round of rankings. The Sooners have gone 0-4 in College Football Playoff semifinal games and it sure feels like the committee took that into account to a much higher degree than this season’s performance.

This initial ranking is designed to try and keep Oklahoma out because of past performances on the big stage. The way I see it, if Oklahoma wins out with a very tough schedule, they deserve to be in, even if history repeats itself in the semifinal.

Obviously 12/1 is nowhere near good enough with where the committee put them, but I’d watch and see if there is a buy point down the line.

Remaining schedule: BYE, @ Baylor, Iowa State, @ Oklahoma State


No. 9 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-0, + 10000)

The opportunity is there for Wake Forest to go undefeated in the ACC, but the Demon Deacons will need a lot of help to get into the final four, even as the champion of a Power Five conference. Wake’s weak schedule and the general weakness of the ACC are working against the team here. The 83rd-ranked schedule by Sagarin is lower than only Cincinnati among the ranked teams.

The committee will be rooting for a loss, so as not to have to explain how a conference championship doesn’t matter enough in this instance. There is no value betting this team to win the CFP.

Remaining schedule: @ North Carolina, NC State, @ Clemson, @ Boston College


No. 10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1, + 10000)

Notre Dame has a great chance of finishing the regular season at 11-1, but the Fighting Irish, who spent last season in the ACC, won’t have the benefit of a conference championship game this time around. The head-to-head loss to Cincinnati is a bit of a dagger here as well.

The remaining schedule is weak, but too many things have to happen for Notre Dame to sniff a chance.

Remaining schedule: Navy, @ Virginia, Georgia Tech, @ Stanford


No. 11 Oklahoma State (7-1, + 13000)

Remaining schedule: @ West Virginia, TCU, @ Texas Tech, Oklahoma


No. 12 Baylor (7-1, + 8000)

Remaining schedule: @ TCU, Oklahoma, @ Kansas State, Texas Tech


No two-loss team has ever made the College Football Playoff and it won’t be any of the teams from this point, as all of them already have two losses. However, the strength of wins against these teams could dictate what happens with the top 10.

No. 13 Auburn

No. 14 Texas A&M

No. 15 BYU

No. 16 Ole Miss

No. 17 Mississippi State

No. 18 Kentucky

No. 19 NC State

No. 20 Minnesota

No. 21 Wisconsin

No. 22 Iowa

No. 23 Fresno State

No. 24 San Diego State

No. 25 Pitt

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