College Football Playoff rankings shake-up: Odds and best bets after Week 10

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Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) runs the ball into the Indiana defense during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

The College Football Playoff rankings were released on Tuesday night and confirmed what many expected with key odds changes for a few major programs. 

The biggest changes were Tennesse falling from the number one spot down to number five after their loss to Georgia, with Georgia rising to number one, and Clemson falling down from the third spot to the 10th spot after losing to Notre Dame. That left a spot open for TCU to jump up into the fourth spot. 

LSU also rose to seventh after their upset of Alabama, while the Crimson Tide fell down to ninth and have a massive uphill climb to get back into the playoffs. 

Below are the current top ten teams in the country, based on the new rankings, along with their odds to make the College Football Playoff and odds to win the championship (according to DraftKings)

Rank Team (Record) CFP Odds Odds to win
1 Georgia (9-0) -2500 +100
2 Ohio State (9-0) -650 +200
3 Michigan (9-0) +140 +800
4 TCU (9-0) +700 +6000
5 Tennessee (8-1) -240 +1200
6 Oregon (8-1) +300 +2500
7 LSU (7-2) +500 +4000
8 USC (8-1) +450 +5000
9 Alabama (7-2) +1400 +5000
10 Clemson (8-1) +450 +6000

Who Are the Best Bets?

So what do we make of this from a betting perspective?

Well, the immediate takeaway is that Vegas does not believe in TCU at +700 to make the college football playoff, which is worse odds than five teams currently ranked below them. Many college football analysts seemed to agree, pointing out that TCU was ranked below a one-loss Alabama team last week but is now somehow ranked ahead of a one-loss Tennessee team that has much better wins. 

In fact, TCU is currently a seven-point underdog this weekend against the University of Texas, who has three losses on the year, so Vegas certainly doesn’t believe in TCU. It’s easy to see why since six of their last seven wins have been by 10 points or less and only one of those was over a currently-ranked opponent. 

However, TCU will end the season, after facing Texas, against Baylor and Iowa State before a potential Big 12 title game, so if you think the Horned Frogs can knock off the Longhorns, then betting on TCU to make the College Football Playoff could turn a profit because it’s clear that the committee isn’t going to keep them out if they’re undefeated. 

Clemson and Alabama also now seem all but assured of missing the College Football Playoff. It’s likely that we see a Georgia and LSU rematch in the SEC Championship Game. Hence why Vegas likes Tennessee to claim a spot in the playoff. If they can finish the season with one loss and Georgia beats LSU, which would eliminate the Tigers from consideration.

This likely also means that Vegas believes the loser of the Michigan (+140) and Ohio State (-650) game after Thanksgiving (should both teams even remain undefeated heading into that game) would be passed over by a one-loss Tennessee team. 

However, Michigan coming in at +140 to make the College Football Playoff is intriguing. They beat Ohio State last year and have not struggled to close game wins like the Buckeyes have this year. For example, Michigan beat Penn State 41-17 and has only had one Big Ten win by less than double-digits (a 34-27 win over Maryland in Week 4).

Meanwhile, Ohio State beat Penn State 44-31 and had to survive a 21-7 win over one-win Northwestern. While none of their Big Ten wins have been by fewer than double digits, they have been tied or behind in the fourth quarter multiple times, whereas Michigan has never had that happen. 

If Michigan were to beat Nebraska and Illinois and then beat Ohio State, at home mind you, they would be in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot, which makes them a decent bet right now. 

With Georgia all but assured a spot, it would seem likely that one of Michigan/Ohio State would take another spot in the college football playoff, and a one-loss Tennessee team would secure the third spot as a result of having better wins than a potentially one-loss Michigan or Ohio State team. 

The last spot would go to TCU if they win out, but could also go to Oregon (+300) if TCU loses and Oregon is able to end the season with wins over 25th-ranked Washington, 13th-ranked Utah, and then a Pac-12 title win over USC (+450). In fact, if we do get a USC/Oregon showdown in the Pac-12 title game and the winner emerges with just one loss on the season, they would stand a good chance to make the playoff. 

So if you have a good feeling about how that Pac-12 schedule may shake out, I prefer Oregon, they might be a decent bet right now. 

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Oregon defensive tackle Keyon Ware-Hudson (95) and linebacker DJ Johnson (2) celebrate a sack against Eastern Washington during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Andy Nelson)