Will Alabama and Clemson continue their dominance in the College Football Playoff (CFP)? Should you consider a “dark horse” with lower CFP championship odds to make a run and win it all?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association football (NCAAF) playoff has only existed since the 2014 season, so it might be challenging to bet on the big games if you’re a newbie bettor. Learning the basics about the CFP National Championship game can help you make better bets.
Read on to learn about how to read CFP championship odds, how to bet on the college football championship, betting strategies for the NCAAF title game, and the history of the CFP championship.
NCAAF Futures Odds: The Basics
Sports betting offers people various options when betting on NCAAF games, including futures bets on events that haven’t happened yet.
Some options include the Heisman Trophy for the most outstanding player, college football playoffs, and the CFP championship.
You can often bet on CFP games before the college football season starts. The betting odds frequently change during the regular season due to events like transfers, injuries, or scandals.
During the preseason, a team’s NCAAF championship odds can also change due to events like alterations to a school’s coaching staff or athletic department.
Reading and Understanding CFP Odds
Example of CFP Odds
CFP Championship odds differ from a traditional betting line that includes a clear favorite indicated by a minus sign (-) and an underdog indicated by a plus sign (+).
Instead, the college team with the lowest betting odds is the favorite to win the title game.
Here’s an example of how betting odds appear for the national championship of college football:
Ohio State +350
In this scenario, Alabama is the favorite since the Crimson Tide has the lowest odds. All the other football teams are considered underdogs.
Let’s say you think Oklahoma has the best odds of winning the championship game, so you bet $50 on the Tigers.
If you win, your total payout would be $300. That includes your original bet ($50) plus your winnings ($250). You can win $500 for every $100 you bet.
Meanwhile, suppose you think Georgia could get back on track and eventually win it all. In that case, you’d get a total payout of $800 if you won. That includes your original bet ($50) plus your winnings ($750).
Online calculators can help figure out your winnings based on the amount you stake and the odds.
If you see CFP odds that you like, it’s important to get early action. The reason is that betting sites adjust their odds closer to the bowl season as teams move up or down in the standings.
CFP Championship Odds: From Offseason to Postseason
The futures odds on the CFP championship game get lots of attention especially at the start of fall, when the college football season begins.
During the uncertain offseason, there are many questions about what will happen during the next college football season.
So it’s critical to be aware that the futures odds like for the NCAA title game change frequently based on several factors, like:
These changes happen much more frequently during the regular season than during the offseason. They include week-by-week changes based on the teams’ wins and losses columns.
One main difference between college football and other American sports is that it doesn’t have a qualifying system for the postseason. Only four select teams have an opportunity to win the college football championship game.
A selection committee with rotating members subjectively picks the four teams to participate in the College Football Playoff. Those teams have a chance to qualify for the title game after winning a semifinal matchup.
At MaximBet.com, we can provide sharp football odds to help you make better selections for college and pro football bets.
You can place a futures bet for the NCAAF championship game as early as the offseason. After the regular season starts, many oddsmakers adjust betting odds about who they believe will play in the championship game.
During the first few weeks of December, bettors can only pick from four schools when placing bets based on CFP championship game odds.
You can get more betting value by wagering on the opening odds that oddsmakers post in January after last season’s title game.
College Football Championship Game: How to Bet
Where to Place College Football Futures Bets
College football is a popular type of sports betting in North America, so it’s easy to find college futures from legit and reliable sportsbooks like MaximBet.com.
It’s important to review different betting markets to find value bets. Taking this step can help you find better betting odds and boost your chance of bigger payouts.
Making a bet on the CFP championship game isn’t difficult. This wagering is known as a futures bet or “odds to win” bet.
As the name suggests, this futures bet requires bettors to correctly pick a team to win a future event, such as the NCAAF championship.
Bettors receive fixed odds when placing this futures bet. The money is also tied up until the sporting event takes place. In this case, it’s the big game in January.
You can technically make futures bets anytime during the college football season. But if you want to have a good chance of getting the best odds and big payouts, bet during the offseason before the fall semester starts.
You can use basic math to calculate how much you can win when placing bets on the NCAAF title game. Simply multiply the betting odds by the amount you wager. Here’s an example:
Clemson Tigers (4/1) to win the NCAAF National Championship
The Tigers are listed at 4/1 betting odds to win the college football national championship. This example is in “fractional odds.”
If you bet $100 on Clemson to capture the title and they win the championship, then you’d win $400. Here are the calculations: ((4 / 1) x $100).
Your total payout would be $500, including your profit ($400) and original bet ($100).
The fractional odds mentioned above would be listed as +400 in American odds.
CFP National Championship: Types of Bets
If you want to place bets on the NCAAF championship, you have several markets from which to choose.
These markets include various futures markets, such as outright odds to secure the college football championship.
The odds change throughout the college football season. These changes happen as the outcome of each game affects a team’s odds of becoming college football champions.
You can also select among various proposition or prop bets for the NCAAF title game. Prop bets are similar to futures bets.
The difference is prop bets are made on a specific event or individual player, more frequently, on a particular football player. Unlike futures bets, prop bets do not involve the final outcome of a matchup.
NCAAF Championship Odds
Alabama steamrolled its competition during the 2020 season, going 13-0 and only beating one team (Florida) by fewer than 10 points.
Alabama opened as favorites to repeat as national champions in the 2021 College Football Playoff. The team last won back-to-back titles during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
The Crimson Tide is the title game’s favorite greatly due to head coach Nick Saban’s football dynasty. Alabama lost key players from the 13-0 team to the NFL draft, including:
- WR DeVonta Smith (Heisman Trophy winner)
- RB Najee Harris
- QB Mac Jones
Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will be the new head coach of the Texas Longhorns.
Alabama is renowned for “reloading” its roster instead of “rebuilding” as many other NCAAF teams do after losing key players. This approach helps the football team remain competitive.
Alabama will indeed be losing several key players. Nevertheless, it also has the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, including several five-star and four-star recruits.
The new recruits include two players on the offensive line, including JC Latham and Tommy Brockermeyer. They are among the top 5-ranked recruits in the U.S.
Today it’s common for freshmen to be redshirted (delay or suspend an athlete’s participation to extend their length of eligibility) or have minimum playing time.
It’s uncertain how much Alabama’s new recruiting class will improve the team this year. The Crimson Tide, nonetheless, is building on strong recruiting classes, including 2019 and 2020.
QB Bryce Young will likely be the starter this year to replace Mac Jones. The Crimson Tide will also have RBs Jase McClellan and Brian Robinson Jr., plus WR John Metchie III to help maintain Alabama's dominance.
The Clemson Tigers were shocked as 7-point favorites versus Ohio State in the 2020 CFP semifinals. The ACC powerhouse lost its star quarterback Trevor Lawrence who was the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
However, Clemson is still high on the odds board.
One of the main reasons is that the Tigers’ coaching staff remains one of the best in the NCAA. This situation explains why it’s among the top favorites to win the NCAAF title.
Clemson will be starting QB DJ Uiagalelei, one of the top high school recruits last year. As a freshman, he played versus Notre Dame and Boston College. Uiagalelei set the record for most passing yards versus the Fighting Irish.
In those games, Uiagalelei completed 66.7% of his passes for 914 yards and five TDs to zero INTs. He also rushed for an average of 2.1 yards per carry with four touchdowns.
The Ohio State Buckeyes lost some key players after the 2020 season, including:
- QB Justin Fields
- WR Chris Olave
- RB Trey Sermon
However, the Midwest school under head coach Ryan Day has multiple young quarterbacks who are prepared to replace Fields, including:
- CJ Stroud
- Jack Miller
- Kyle McCord
The school also has other stars like wide receiver Garratt Wilson and defensive end Zach Harrison.
The Sooners had a rocky start to the 2020 season, going 1-2. Oklahoma finished the season strong and won the Big 12 championship by destroying Florida in the Cotton Bowl 55-20.
Most of the roster is returning this year, including Heisman Trophy favorite and starting QB Spencer Rattler.
In 2020, he completed 68% of his passes for over 3,000 yards and 28 TDs while throwing seven INTs. Rattler also scored six rushing TDs.
The SEC powerhouse Georgia Bulldogs have a solid chance to advance to the NCAAF title game.
QB JT Daniels became the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback in the 2020 season after recovering from a knee injury. He announced that he’d return to Georgia to play another year.
The decision allowed Georgia to remain among the NCAA’s top coach-quarterback duos with head coach Kirby Smart.
The Bulldogs also feature one of the nation’s best defenses even after losing some players to the NFL draft.
The main “dark horse” this year to shock the sports world could be the Iowa State Cyclones. In 2020, the team achieved its all-time highest AP ranking.
The Cyclones played in their first New Year’s bowl game by defeating Oregon 34-7 in the Fiesta Bowl.
This year, Iowa State is among the top 10 teams with odds to win the CFP championship. Several significant players from last year’s team will return for the next season, including:
- QB Brock Purdy
- TE Charlie Kolar
- RB Breece Hall (Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year)
The Cyclones have some of the best odds as a longshot team during the 2021 season. For example, their title game odds are lower than the Wisconsin Badgers and Iowa Hawkeyes.
RB Isaiah Spiller had a 1,000+ yard season last year in ten games. The Aggies’ starting QB will be either red-shirted sophomore Zach Calzada or RS freshman Haynes King.
The offense needs to step up from last year while the team has a solid defense.
Oddsmakers have generally listed the Trojans at very high odds. In fact, the team often isn’t in the conversation about the College Football Playoff National Championship.
The Trojans, however, will be bringing back Heisman candidate QB Kedon Slovis and an explosive passing attack. It’s possible that this California school could finish in the NCAA’s top 15.
Last year’s starting QB Kyle Trask left for the NFL, but Emory Jones offers a dual-threat passer and rusher.
The Gators also have an experienced defensive unit and continue to reload talent under head coach Dan Mullen.
CFP Championship: Betting Odds Trends
After winning the 2020 CFP championship, Alabama opened as a +325 favorite for the next season to defend its title. One of the benefits of college football betting is that national championship odds are available nearly all year.
Over the summer, Alabama’s odds dropped somewhat while Clemson’s increased. Georgia and Ohio State followed in the third and fourth spots. Meanwhile, Oklahoma rounded out the top 5 NCAAF teams.
Here’s a roundup of odds trends for various NCAAF conferences:
ACC: Notre Dame has returned to being an independent team. Clemson is still heavily favored to become conference champion.
Big 12: It's the only “Power 5” conference that hasn’t sent a team to a CFP National Championship game. Oklahoma is 0-4 in the semifinals.
Big 10: Ohio State won the CFP in 2015. Since then, the Big Ten school lost in the semifinals in 2017 and 2020 and lost the championship game in 2021. Michigan was demolished 38-0 by Alabama in the 2016 semifinals.
Pac-12: The Oregon Ducks lost 42-20 in the semifinals of the 2014 CFP. Since then, Washington was also selected to the college football playoffs.
SEC: This conference that includes Kentucky and Tennessee is the only one that sent two teams to the playoffs. Alabama and Georgia played in the 2018 championship game, while Alabama and Florida qualified for the playoff games in the 2020 season.
Independent: Notre Dame was dismantled by Clemson 30-3 in the 2019 CFP and was crushed by Alabama 31-14 during a 2021 semifinal game.
Only seven active NCAA coaches have won national championships. Alabama Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban has won the most at seven. Urban Meyer is ranked second with three national titles.
NCAAF Teams with Betting Value
While Alabama and Clemson remain the top betting favorites to win it all, Georgia and Ohio State are two teams worth considering for their betting value.
Georgia’s odds dropped since January 2021, and it became a major contender for the CFP championship.
Meanwhile, Ohio State is searching for its second CFP title after losing to Alabama in the 2020 season.
Georgia also had top recruiting classes in 2019 and 2020. Most of the recruits are on the defensive squad, including cornerback Kelee Ringo and linebacker Nolan Smith. The Bulldogs’ backfield is also experienced.
The Buckeyes have recruited edge rusher Jack Sawyer and will likely recruit edge rusher J.T. Tuimoloau. Georgia also has some top-end wide receivers, although it’s unclear who their starting QB will be.
NCAAF National Championship History
Learning the NCAAF championship’s history and the past winners can help you understand the trends that make certain teams successful.
This information can help when reviewing NCAA championship odds by providing more insights for more informed picks.
NCAAF teams have played the CFP National Championship game since 2014. Beforehand, it was referred to as the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship game.
In the BCS system, the teams that competed in the college football playoffs were determined via a set of bowl games. This process eliminated the selection committee involved in the process until 2013.
The new CFP system provides more transparent and thrilling competition for football fans.
During the past ten years, these teams won the NCAAF championship game:
College Football Playoffs: Team Appearances and Records
|NCAA Team||Appearances||CFP Record||Titles|
NCAAF Championship Betting Strategies
When betting on college football, you should weigh many of the same considerations as when betting on the NFL and other pro football leagues. Make sure to consider various trends from the past few games of a particular team.
One thing to remember is that NCAA football teams tend to change their lineups much more often than pro teams. That’s due to college players often entering the NFL draft within a few years.
So it’s crucial to watch out for a team’s roster changes and review each player’s stats.
Another factor to consider is the NCAAF coaches since they can have a big impact on a college football team’s success. So you should also weigh this issue.
Review the CFP championship’s past winners to find trends that cause some teams to be more successful than others.
After figuring out which NCAAF team you want to pick, make sure to check the college football championship odds at MaximBet.com. We can offer good value through sharp football odds.
College Football Futures: Betting Tips
When placing NCAAF futures bets on events like the CFP championship, here are some tips to help improve your chances of success:
Review a Team’s Schedule
You should undoubtedly weigh matters such as a team’s returning starters and recruiting class. However, a team’s schedule is another major factor to consider when making NCAAF futures bets.
How can this approach help in tough conferences like the SEC when each team has a rocky road to the CFP? Try to dig deeper and review where and when teams will play certain games.
For example, Alabama must play conference powerhouses like Auburn and LSU every year. The matchups aren’t always equal, even in games between these conference rivals.
For instance, Alabama is the road team versus Auburn. It will be tougher to win if they played LSU in a prime-time game the week before. Key factors can include lower energy levels afterward.
On the other hand, If Alabama played a weak team at home during the previous week, this situation could make it easier to beat a tough team during the next week.
Here’s the bottom line: nearly all the top teams will have several tough games on their schedules. The difference lies in the overall context of the game.
When making your pick, consider various factors. Who will a team play next? Who will they play last? Who will they play right after a bye week?
Review the Past National Champions
Analyze the opening odds for the college football champions for the following season. This information can provide some insights into the futures markets.
Oddsmakers tend to be very accurate in predicting which teams will likely qualify for the next CFP championship.
It’s pretty common for the top four-listed teams (lowest odds) to participate in the CFP semifinals.
During the past decade, Alabama and Clemson have dominated the CFPs. As a result, value bets might not be the best option when betting on the NCAAF National Championship.
This situation doesn’t mean you should automatically pick the top four teams with the lowest CFP championship odds. Still, football teams that begin as heavy favorites often win it all.
Monitor Changing Odds
Keep in mind that one week in the NCAAF season can cause massive changes in futures odds like the national champion or Heisman award.
For example, if the top-ranked team loses in the middle of the season, it’s likely that their odds of winning the NCAAF title will drop.
In certain situations, bettors can benefit from a college team losing. The odds could improve if you “double down” by staying committed to your betting strategy.
If you pick Ohio State at 4:1 odds at the start of the season, after the team loses, you might be able to make that bet at 8:1 odds.
If the Buckeyes win it all, you can significantly boost your payout due to the higher odds.
Look for Heisman Value Bets
The Heisman Trophy winner is rarely the favorite player who had the best odds before the football season started. This fact provides some excellent opportunities for value bets.
Early Heisman award favorites often falter due to factors like expectations and scrutiny. Knocking off the player in the top spot also makes for a more thrilling storyline for media outlets.
You could package two or three players with high-value odds (e.g., 10:1) to boost your chances of winning the bet. This approach counters the unpredictability of futures bets.
1. Has the opening favorite ever won the CFP Championship?
In 2021, Alabama was favored to repeat as the NCAAF champion and opened at several online sportsbooks with odds of +350.
However, no team has won the CFP National Championship after opening as the favorite. That includes Alabama in the 2019 season and Clemson in the 2020 season.
2. When is the CFP championship?
The semifinal games take place in late December or early January. These events and their locations include:
- Orange Bowl (Miami, Florida)
- Cotton Bowl (Arlington, Texas)
Meanwhile, the NCAAF title game is played on a Monday during the first few weeks of January at locations such as:
- Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Indiana)
- Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Florida)
The first CFP rankings are released in mid-November. Selection Sunday takes place on the Sunday before the start of the Bowl season.
3. Where can I bet on the CFP championship?
Several U.S. states have legalized sports betting, including Colorado, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, many others are taking steps to legalize sports gambling, including college football.
4. Which NCAAF team has won the most national championships?
As of August 2021, Alabama has won an impressive 16 national titles. However, Yale has won 18 NCAA championships. It also produced two of the NCAA’s first three Heisman Trophy winners, 28 Hall of Fame inductees, and 100 All-Americans.
Make sure you have all the knowledge necessary to place NCAAF bets on exciting events like the CFP championship game. Contact us today at MaximBet.com to receive information and odds for college and pro football games.