The most common criticism of college football is that the same teams are always in the mix to become national champions. Teams like Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson and Alabama are seemingly in the mix every year. This year is no different as these four teams are in the top five favorites to win at BetMGM.
But it seems the betting public is ready for a change at the top. Tennessee currently has the fourth best odds to win at 11-1. Ohio State, Georgia and Alabama have better odds than the Volunteers. However, it is Tennessee that has received the most bets of any team in the country.
Tennessee is the favorite bet
Tennessee opened as 100-to-1 to win the college football national championship. Those odds put them on par with teams like Michigan State, Iowa, Auburn and Kansas State. While there was some hope for growth, the idea of the Vols being a legitimate contender on the national stage seemed a bit far-fetched.
However, expectations have changed. After clinically dismantling a pesky Kentucky team on Saturday, Tennessee is 8-0. The Vols’ win against Alabama is the most impressive win any team has on their resume. In addition to Alabama, Tennessee dealt with Pittsburgh, LSU, Florida and Kentucky, all of which were ranked before playing the Vols.
Hendon Hooker has become the betting favorite to win the Heisman. He is now even money to win the award after beating CJ Stroud, who has been the betting favorite since the first weeks of the season. Stroud now has the second best odds at +175.
Bettors believe in Tennessee. Their odds to win all of last week were 18 to 1. Their odds are 11 to 1 today. Overall, 16.5% of bets placed so far have backed Tennessee to win it all. That’s the most of any team in the country. Rounding out the top five most popular bets are Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Georgia. None of these schools received more than 13% of bets.
Tennessee is now BetMGM’s biggest liability when it comes to the national championship market.
Big game on board
If you’re holding a Tennessee futures ticket, this coming Saturday is going to be a huge day for you. Unfortunately, Tennessee is a pretty big underdog in Athens against the Georgia Bulldogs. Currently at BetMGM, Georgia is an 8.5-point favorite against Tennessee.
Tennessee supporters will be quick to point out that Alabama was a favorite by the same margin before their meeting with the Vols. That’s a fair answer. However, this challenge against Georgia will be on the road.
A win for Tennessee on Saturday would go a long way toward securing a playoff spot for Tennessee. The Vols’ final three games are against Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. They will be heavy favorites in all three games. With wins over Alabama and Georgia in the bag, it would seem likely that Tennessee could even withstand a loss in SEC play and still get in.
However, with Saturday’s loss, things will get darker. Tennessee would then likely not play in the SEC Championship game because Georgia would represent the SEC East. In a world where the winner of the SEC West (cough, Alabama, cough) potentially beats Georgia in the SEC Championship game, it would be hard to push Tennessee into the playoff. You’d probably have the one-loss SEC champion and one-loss Georgia beating Tennessee head-to-head.
Three SEC teams would be a tough ask, especially considering how the rest of the country is shaping up. You’ll likely have undefeated Ohio State or Michigan claiming a Big Ten spot. There is also a very likely chance that we have undefeated Clemson from the ACC. TCU is still undefeated in the Big 12 and if they run the table, they will be hard to miss as well. Oregon is also in the Pac-12. If they’re running the table, they’re a one-loss conference champion, with their only loss coming to the defending national champion early in the season. You can certainly make a case that Tennessee is better than those teams, but it would be difficult for the committee.
Of course, all these dialogues are very much in order, since we are more than a month away from the selection committee making a decision. We still have a month of games left. However, when you are betting on futures, these are all scenarios that you have to process and go through. If Tennessee wins on Saturday, it’s all moot. If they lose, it becomes a hairy situation.
National Championship Odds
With the commission releasing its first College Football Playoff rankings this week, now is a good time to check out the college football national champion betting odds at BetMGM:
Ohio State (+200)
Clemson (16 to 1)
Michigan (16 to 1)
Oregon (40 to 1)
TCU (66 to 1)
USC (66 to 1)