The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has released its first set of rankings. The top four (Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson) aren’t a huge surprise, though some — specifically everyone in the Heart of Dixie — will quibble with the order.
With four weeks left in the regular season and a number of titanic games still to be played, the top four could look significantly different come season’s end, come next Tuesday, for that matter.
Which of the current top four are most likely to fall? Who’s poised to finish the year undefeated? Below, get the latest odds on the playoff landscape, along with the most recent Heisman futures and an update on the coaching hot-seat.
CFP TOP-FOUR ODDS
1. Georgia (8-0)
Odds Georgia wins the 2017 SEC championship: 13/7
Odds Georgia makes the College Football Playoff: 7/3
Georgia’s no. 1 ranking makes sense, objectively. They have a better resume right now than Alabama, plus a road win over a top-four team (Notre Dame). Yet the odds are in favor of the Dawgs finishing the season with a loss; not only will they (likely) face Bama in the SEC Championship, they also have a road game against no. 14 Auburn in two weeks.
Since losing Jacob Eason, every one of the Bulldogs’ opponents has talked about forcing freshman quarterback Jake Fromm to “make throws,” but no team has actually been able to do that. The Bulldogs have a really strong running game, one that only teams like Auburn and Alabama will be able to contain. But that reality is what makes the looming SEC title game a real nightmare for Georgia.
In sum: they deserve to be on top for now. But they’re not the best bet to finish atop the SEC, and it’s unlikely that the committee will pick two teams from the same conference, hence the long-ish playoff odds.
2. Alabama (8-0)
Odds Alabama wins the 2017 SEC championship: 2/3
Odds Alabama makes the College Football Playoff: 1/1
As impressive as the Crimson Tide have looked, their resume doesn’t house any particularly impressive wins, especially since teams keep absolutely cratering in the weeks after their Alabama game. Vanderbilt was a top team that people were taking seriously! Florida State was a playoff favorite! Texas A&M presented all kinds of challenges!
The schedule ramps up in the coming weeks. Nick Saban didn’t design it that way; Florida State wasn’t supposed to be the pontoon boat accident it turned out to be. Regardless, Bama gets no. 19 LSU this week, then no. 16 Mississippi State, then (very unranked) Mercer, and finally no. 14 (and perhaps underrated) Auburn.
3. Notre Dame (7-1)
Odds Notre Dame wins out: 5/1
Odds Notre Dame makes the College Football Playoff: 6/1
Notre Dame’s looked really good this year, and maybe the remaining schedule doesn’t scare you, but look again. Wake Forest is a top-30ish team, Stanford is ranked (no. 21), Miami (no. 10) is undefeated, and the last team on the docket is Navy. Do you want to play Navy? I don’t want to play Navy. Of the top four teams, Notre Dame is the least likely to win out, and there’s no chance they make the CFP if they don’t.
4. Clemson (7-1)
Odds Clemson wins the 2017 ACC championship: 1/1
Odds Clemson makes the College Football Playoff: 3/2
How did you let Clemson sneak up on you? They’re 7-1 now, with roughly even odds of finishing the season with an identical record as last year when, you might recall, they made the playoff (and more). Their last big challenge is this weekend on the road against NC State, and then they’ve got Florida State, the Citadel, and a road game against South Carolina prior to a likely ACC title game berth.
Oh God we’re getting Alabama/Clemson III, aren’t we?
2017 End-of-Season Props
Odds of Alabama/Clemson National Championship “three-match”: 5/1
Odds of finishing regular season undefeated (excluding conference championships)
- UCF: 3/2
- Alabama: 16/9
- Georgia: 2/1
- Wisconsin: 2/1
- Miami: 5/1
Over/Under total losses (including bowl games)
- Florida State: 6.5
- Florida: 5.5
- Texas: 5.5
- UCLA: 5.5
- LSU: 3.5
- Michigan: 3.5
- Notre Dame: 2.5
- Penn State: 1.5
2017 Heisman Trophy odds
- Saquon Barkley (Penn State): 4/7
- Bryce Love (Stanford): 4/1
- Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma): 9/2
- JT Barrett (Ohio State): 9/2
- Mason Rudolph (OK State): 30/1
- Lamar Jackson (Louisville): 32/1
Odds to be the #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft
- Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State): 4/1
- Sam Darnold (QB, USC): 6/1
- Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA): 6/1
- Minkah Fitzpatrick (S/CB, Alabama): 8/1
- Mason Rudolph (QB, OK State): 12/1
- Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming): 25/1
Odds the following coaches do not start 2018 with their current team
- Butch Jones (Tennessee): 1/9
- Bret Bielema (Arkansas): 2/1
- Mike Riley (Nebraska): 2/3
- Jim Mora (UCLA): 1/1
- David Beaty (Kansas): 1/1
- Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M): 3/2
- Lovie Smith (Illinois): 8/1
- Gus Malzahn (Auburn): 10/1
- Jim Harbaugh (Michigan): 12/1
Butch Jones is basically already fired, Tennessee is just trying to find a way to fire him with cause to avoid paying his buyout. Bret Bielema has a huge buyout left, Mike Riley is going to get what he asked for when he took a job from the same lunatics who fired Bo Pelini, and Kevin Sumlin can save his job with wins over Ole Miss, Auburn and LSU.