How College Football Preseason Polls Compare to Title Odds
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College football and Top-25 polls have been joined at the hip since the first AP Poll in the 1934 season. But the Top 25 rarely matches up hand-in-hand with National Championship odds set by sportsbooks around the country. In fact, there are some notable differences. While some can be explained, sometimes value is revealed. Let's take a look at the preseason polls and get a sense of which teams oddsmakers value more -- and less -- than the voters.
College Football Polls vs. Title Odds
Note: Not in either top 25 rankings is Mississippi State at +8000, tied for 16th in betting ranking; and Miami (Fla.) at +10000, among the teams tied at 18. Odds via DraftKings and current as of publication.
Teams With Shorter-Than-Expected Odds
No. 7 Michigan sticks out straight away at +1400. Their odds are the fourth lowest in the country, but they fall outside the top 5 in the initial poll.
Michigan’s odds are identical to that of eternal rival Ohio State, who checks in at No. 5. The reigning Big Ten champion’s odds are one spot higher than where they fall in the initial Top 25, but Michigan looks out of place and over-valued for their spot on the Top 25.
No. 15 Utah with +6600 odds are equal to that of teams a few spots higher than they land. The sportsbooks ranked them as a possible underdog to sneak into national title picture, but the No. 15 ranking by the coaches reflects the 9-5 Pac-12 team they were last year.
No. 16 Auburn at +5000 is a massive overvaluation for where they are in the rankings. Their odds are inside the top 10, possibly because of their standing as a member of the SEC, but the coaches ranked them outside the top 15.
Nebraska sitting at No. 24 in the AP Top 25 is the last overvaluation inside the Top 25. At +8000 odds, they're tied for sixteenth favorite in the country, but are a full 8 rankings lower in the AP, and not ranked at all in the Coaches poll. It’s the biggest overvaluation of teams in Top 25.
Overvalued teams not ranked? Mississippi State sitting at +8000 odds, which are equal to overvalued Nebraska.
Miami (Fla.) is another, though they had slightly longer odds at +10000. After going 7-6 in the ACC last season, starting unranked isn’t a surprise for the Hurricanes, but it is a surprise for oddsmakers.
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Teams With Longer-Than-Expected Odds
At +1600 odds, No. 4 Oklahoma looks to be undervalued ever so slightly, which is still a significant margin in the top 4. Clemson, Alabama and Georgia all match exactly, which was probably to be expected, but oddsmakers undervalued the cream of the Big 12 next to Ohio State and Michigan.
On the other side of Michigan’s coin is LSU. The Tigers are ranked No. 6 overall, but there’s a massive drop-off at +4000 odds from No. 5 Ohio State being offered at +1400. They might have the seventh-lowest odds, but the jump in odds is a jarring one, which additionally makes Michigan stick out more.
LSU suffers as well by having two SEC teams ahead of it in both the pollsters' and sportsbooks' minds.
No. 11 Texas A&M is undervalued team compared to those around them. At +10000, they’re at least +3000 better than every team within five spots and even with unranked Miami (Fla.). One has to go all the way down to No. 17 UCF to reach +10000 odds again.
Speaking of UCF, their +12500 odds might be outside the top 20 favorites, but +12500 is on par with the teams under them. In terms of favorites, they're undervalued. Compared to the teams around them (and their situation in reality), they're in the right place.
At the bottom, No. 25 Northwestern is easily the most undervalued team in the Top 25 with odds that fall outside the top 35. That said, oddsmakers like seven Big Ten teams better than the Wildcats, which helps explain their long odds.