College Football Playoff Odds: Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State Control Destiny

Georgia wide receiver Arian Smith (11) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown against Missouri
Joshua L. Jones-USA TODAY Network

The 2.0 version of the 2021 College Football Playoff rankings have been released, and per usual, the playoff committee’s rankings don’t exactly align with the perceptions of oddsmakers, let alone those who vote in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

With a full month to go before “Selection Sunday” on Dec. 5, so much can (and will) change among the top four. Well, maybe three of the four, since the school sitting atop both the CFP rankings/CFP odds board appears to be a lock for either the Cotton Bowl or Orange Bowl on Dec. 31.

Let’s break down the latest College Football Playoff odds heading into Week 11.

Odds courtesy of FanDuel and updated as of 12 noon ET on Nov. 10.

Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback JT Daniels passes the ball against the Missouri Tigers
Image Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 9-0
College Football Playoff Ranking: 1st (last week: 1st)
AP Ranking: 1st (last week: 1st)
College Football Playoff odds: Yes -2400/No +1800

Remember the old days — you know, like 2020 — when big, bad Alabama could shake off an early deficit and cruise to a drama-free victory of 25 points or more?

Well, now Georgia has entered that same realm of dominance. For instance, last week the undefeated Bulldogs took the field as a 40-point favorite against Missouri and quickly spotted the Tigers an early 3-0 lead that held up for nearly the entire first quarter. Rather than panic, though, Georgia buckled down, went to work dissecting the Tigers, and rolled to a 43-6 victory.

The Dawgs continue to boast the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense (6.56 points allowed per game), the No. 2 total defense (allowing 213.8 yards per game), and an offense that has averaged 42 points per game since Week 2. In short, Georgia is fielding as complete a team as SEC rival Alabama did on its way to winning last year’s national championship.

Which is bad news for the three teams remaining on the Bulldogs’ regular-season schedule: Tennessee on the road (5-4, 3-3 in SEC), FCS fodder Charleston Southern at home (2-4 overall), and Georgia Tech (2-5 overall) on the road. All three obviously will be massive underdogs when they face Georgia. Assuming none of those underdogs pull off a historic upset, the Bulldogs will have their CFP ticket punched — no matter what happens in the SEC championship game.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) celebrates after a sack against the LSU Tigers
Image Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 8-1
College Football Playoff Ranking: 2nd (last week: 2nd)
AP Ranking: 3rd (last week: 3rd)
College Football Playoff odds: Yes -112/No -112

FanDuel has Alabama (5-1 in SEC) as a tossup to reach the four-team playoff, despite the Crimson Tide’s top-3 rankings with the CFP (No. 2) and Associated Press (No. 3) polls. Here’s what those 50-50 College Football Playoff odds tell us: Oddsmakers are confident that Alabama cannot make the CFP without beating Georgia in the presumptive SEC championship game matchup.

Makes sense, because as we’ve stated numerous times, no two-loss program has reached the playoff in the event’s seven-year history. As such, Alabama has zero margin of error as it hits the home stretch with games against New Mexico State (Independent), Arkansas (No. 25 in CFP poll), and rival No. 17 Auburn (Nov. 27).

First, the Crimson Tide need victories in the latter two contests just to clinch a berth in the SEC title game. And if they get those victories, they then need to knock off Georgia to earn the opportunity to defend their title. And judging by Alabama’s current pick ’em College Football Playoff odds at FanDuel, it’s pretty clear oddsmakers favor the Bulldogs in a Georgia-Bama showdown.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) dashes past Nebraska Cornhuskers safety Marquel Dismuke (9)
Image Credit: Barbara J. Perenic-Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY Network

Record: 7-1
College Football Playoff Ranking: 4th (last week: 5th)
AP Ranking: 6th (last week: 6th)
College Football Playoff odds: Yes -182/No +142

Ohio State’s uncomfortably close 26-17 road victory over Nebraska last week didn’t affect much on the national landscape, outside of dropping OSU’s scoring average fractionally below 45 points per game.

The Buckeyes still have a clear path to the playoff semifinals. They just have to sweep their remaining regular-season slate of Purdue (No. 19 in CFP poll), Michigan State (No. 7 CFP), and Michigan (No. 6 CFP), then take care of business in the Big Ten title game (Dec. 4 in Indianapolis).

Pull that off, and Ohio State wouldn’t require any outside help to snatch a Playoff invite — most likely as a No. 2 or No. 3 seed. That’s because of the overall strength of the Big Ten (six teams in this week’s CFP top 20), which of course boosts the Buckeyes’ strength-of-schedule rating.

Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams pumps his fists below his waist after throwing a touchdown pass against TCU.
Image Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 9-0
College Football Playoff Ranking: 8th (last week: 8th)
AP Ranking: 4th (last week: 4th)
College Football Playoff odds: Yes -174/No +136

The biggest so-called “loser” of Tuesday night’s CFP rankings release wasn’t Michigan State, which plunged four spots to No. 7 after last week’s loss to Purdue. Rather, it was Oklahoma, which is still slotted at No. 8, behind five one-loss clubs (No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 6 Michigan, and No. 7 Michigan State).

Is the CFP committee already signaling that if Oklahoma were to go 13-0 and win the Big 12 championship game that the Sooners would fail to crack the top four, assuming No. 5-ranked Cincinnati and a collection of those aforementioned one-loss teams win out?

Certainly, bookmakers don’t believe that to be a possibility, given the fact they currently have Oklahoma with the third-best College Football Playoff odds (behind Georgia and Ohio State).

This much is known: Like everyone on this list but Georgia, the Sooners cannot afford to slip up. That won’t be easy, though, as Oklahoma has a heavily back-loaded schedule that starts Saturday with Baylor (No. 13 in CFP poll), followed by Iowa State and Oklahoma State (No. 10 CFP). Make it through that gauntlet and the Sooners would have to face one of those squads again in the Big 12 title game.

Win that game, and the Sooners would be a shoo-in for the CFP, right? Not necessarily. The schedules of the Big Ten’s powers (Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan) are also back-loaded for maximum November impact. Which is why if Ohio State wins out, its profile will rise considerably.

In other words, even though oddsmakers like Oklahoma’s playoff chances at the moment, the reality is there’s a good chance the Sooners could become the first-ever undefeated Power 5 conference champion to miss out on the four-team playoff.

Oregon Ducks

Oregon Ducks running back Travis Dye (26) rushes against the Washington Huskies
Image Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 8-1
College Football Playoff Ranking: 3rd (last week: 4th)
AP Ranking: 5th (last week: 7th)
College Football Playoff odds: Yes +225/No -310

Oregon’s No. 3 CFP ranking factors in the Ducks’ résumé-topping road win over Ohio State back in Week 2, their come-from-ahead defeat to Stanford in Week 5, and last week’s rain-soaked road victory over Washington.

However, that ranking hasn’t yet accounted for Oregon potentially claiming the Pac-12 title in December — a feat that would seemingly clinch the Ducks’ playoff invitation without the need for outside assistance.

Then again, Oregon’s playoff odds are significantly longer than No. 8 Oklahoma’s. That means oddsmakers believe the selection committee ultimately would vault an undefeated Big 12 champion Oklahoma — which this week is five spots behind the Ducks in the CFP rankings — over a one-loss Pac-12 champion Oregon.

Then there’s this: Ohio State right now is a solid favorite to make the Playoff, while the Ducks are a decided underdog. Thus, those same oddsmakers also believe the committee, if it comes down to it, will disregard Oregon’s win at Ohio State and take the one-loss Buckeyes over the one-loss Ducks.

Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati Bearcats defensive lineman Jabari Taylor (90)(90) celebrates after recovering a fumble in the end zone against Tulsa
Image Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-The Enquirer/USA TODAY Network

Record: 9-0
College Football Playoff Ranking: 5th (last week: 6th)
AP Ranking: 2nd (last week: 2nd)
College Football Playoff odds: Yes +350/No -550

Cincinnati fans can delude themselves into believing all the No. 5 Bearcats need to do to snag a College Football Playoff slot is win out and hope for one more upset loss by a Power 5 team. But we all know how things would play out in the event of Oklahoma, Oregon, and either Ohio State/Michigan State/Michigan finish as zero- or one-loss champions of the Big 12, Pac-12, and Big Ten, respectively.

Those champs almost certainly will possess more playoff cachet than Cincinnati when comparing overall and conference strength of schedules.

And frankly, that’s a raw deal for the undefeated Bearcats, who have a signature road victory in their back pocket (at Notre Dame). Essentially, Cincinnati is being doubly penalized for playing in an inferior conference (American Athletic) and not having the foresight to — insert sarcasm here — schedule two road games against the Fighting Irish.