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Michigan, Washington & Miami Championship Odds Plummet After Week 1

Alex Kilpatrick

by Alex Kilpatrick in College Football

Updated Sep 6, 2018 · 11:44 AM PDT

Michigan Football
Michigan fans will be a little less enthusiastic after their week one loss to Notre Dame. Photo by Larry'sPhatPage (Flickr) [CC License].
  • Three games between Playoff hopefuls produced three Week 1 losers
  • Whose national title odds fell the most?
  • Why is App State still being scheduled in Week 1?

Week 1 scheduling is tough. You can either schedule an out-of-conference team you’re likely to beat, and have the best chance of surviving early season hiccups, or schedule a stout opponent to get your College Football Playoff resume started in style.

Most teams opt for the former approach, and net largely hollow victories, but this week there were three games played between playoff hopefuls. Most involved teams with outside shots at the Playoff that need the toughest schedule they can assemble.

Those three games all had losers, and those losers saw their Playoff odds suffer. These are the biggest losers we found when we updated the National Championship Odds Tracker.

Week 1 Championship Odds Fallers

  • Michigan lost to Notre Dame 24-17 in South Bend, and saw their odds to win the national title multiply
  • Miami got pantsed by LSU 33-17 at AT&T Stadium
  • Washington lost 21-16 to Auburn
  • Penn State defeated App State 45-38 in OT

None of those were actually terrible losses, and none of these teams are out of the national title picture just yet. Let’s go through these games one by one.

Miami (Lost 33-17 to LSU)

Miami gave up a lot on special teams and struggled to get started on offense, which is thoroughly understandable when you’re playing LSU in Week 1. LSU fields one of the best defenses in the country, and any kind of error is subject to swift punishment. Also, trying to fight people from Louisiana is just generally a bad idea:

With this loss, Miami saw its average national title odds go from +2300 to +6000. That might be something of an overreaction to a neutral site loss to one of the best teams in the country.

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In a few weeks this won’t seem like the worst loss in the world, and might even reach the status of “quality loss” that helps your playoff resume.

Washington (Lost 21-16 to Auburn)

When Washington scheduled this game, they were probably just hoping to avoid more cupcake jokes.

It didn’t work. Auburn came out on top of the tight game played on a not-at-all neutral site, and unfortunately seemed to confirm a lot of dumb tropes about the PAC-12 and the SEC. Washington did have a lot of trouble with Auburn’s defensive line. Washington did have a lot of trouble establishing the run, and Myles Gaskin only netted 75 yards. Auburn was able to lean on the run game to win.

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My last point is that Mercedes-Benz Stadium is much closer to Auburn than Seattle. With the pride of the SEC at stake, the Atlanta crowd got loud for Auburn. If you consider this an Auburn home game, but slightly fancy, the world starts to make a little more sense.

The sportsbooks may have overreacted. Washington’s average title odds went from +1400 to +3500, despite playing the reigning SEC West champion down to the wire in Georgia. This is because it is impossible to make the Playoff after losing to Auburn, something Alabama and Georgia proved last year.

Michigan (Lost 24-17 to Notre Dame)

Michigan lost to Notre Dame in South Bend, something Georgia very nearly did at the beginning of last year. The Wolverines did present some very real issues: Shea Patterson didn’t look quite as poised as you’d hope, and Michigan could not run the ball. Jim Harbaugh will likely work out those kinks, and it’s totally understandable for Patterson to be a little uncomfortable in his first game with an entirely new team.

This might be a little petty, but if you lose by one touchdown after you force Brandon Wimbush to throw a deep ball into double coverage, you came pretty close to winning. Maybe don’t fire Jim Harbaugh just yet.*

*Unless he loses to Michigan State again. Then absolutely fire him.

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Bonus: Penn State (Beat App State 45-38 OT)

Penn State almost fell victim to the Curse of App State, which rears its head every decade or so to fell a top team.

App State got a lot of breaks in this game, and Penn State made a couple of costly errors. The Nittany Lions saw their championship odds fall dramatically, presumably because they gave bettors such a scare. They went from +2200 to +3500 in average title odds, after a week one win that made their quarterback look like a superstar.

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The real winner of this game was anyone with a Trace McSorley Heisman ticket. The senior quarterback looked spectacular leading his team out of a tight spot, and made some incredible throws in crucial moments. Marching down the field with less than two minutes on the clock to score the tying touchdown on a perfect throw is the kind of play that gets you a statue. Sportsbooks noticed that, too, and his Heisman odds are now firmly among the favorites.

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