2016 College Football Playoff Betting Odds
When it comes to the four semifinalists in this year’s College Football Playoff, it really feels like there is one team — the Alabama Crimson Tide — and three pretenders in Ohio State, Clemson and Washington. Of course, Ohio State pulled an upset of Alabama in the semifinal a couple of years ago, and this is why they play the games — to see what actually happens. Let’s take a look at the odds facing each of the four semifinalists — and some other online sports betting opportunities for you.
2016 College Football Playoff betting odds: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson & Washington
The Crimson Tide take on the biggest enigma when they face the Washington Huskies. The two teams do have a common opponent in USC, whom Alabama demolished in Week 1 but who handed Washington their only loss of the season. Alabama has freshman Jalen Hurts at quarterback, and he has a wealth of options. Hurts is the team’s second-leading rusher, behind Damien Harris. Tight end O.J. Howard stands 6-6 and is an imposing target over the middle. They face a Washington team that ranks #10 in the nation in yards permitted per game and has the best turnover margin in all of college football. However, they also faced a salty defense in LSU and came away with a crucial win. Florida boasted a solid defensive unit — and the Tide hung 54 on them. So you have to like Alabama to come out of the semifinal relatively easily and be ready to face the Clemson-Ohio State winner with confidence.
Clemson, Ohio State (7/1)
These are two very different teams, but as far as talent and a chance to win go, they sit roughly equally. Deshaun Watson has worlds more talent than his counterpart from the Buckeyes, J.T. Barrett. He can throw the ball further and more accurately, and he can run faster. However, he also has a proclivity for throwing interceptions — 14 so far this season. You just can’t turn the ball over like that and expect to win at the highest levels of college football. The Clemson defense has a line that is fast and physical, but the team also gives up points in bunches, particularly when the secondary gives up huge plays. They were able to stiffen up and shut down Louisville earlier in the season, but can they hold Ohio State if they turn the ball over and surrender short fields?
Ohio State has an offense and defense that are consistently gritty. Barrett hasn’t gotten the press of some other quarterbacks in college football, but he is a solid game manager and can move the team up and down the field without turning the ball over. The defense is comprised of a bunch of “no-name” players, but they have gotten the job done, week in and week out. If they can get some takeaways from Clemson, they can use those short fields to build a lead and frustrate the Tigers.
Yes, the Huskies have a terrific defense, but they’re missing their best edge rusher in Joe Mathis, and they are missing middle linebacker Azeem Victor, who went down against USC and will not return. He had led the team in tackles. The secondary, with safety Budda Baker, plays strong ball, and freshman Taylor Rapp had two interceptions in the Pac-12 championship game, getting the MVP for the night. However, I just don’t see Washington staying with an Alabama team that is so solid, so deep and so experienced at winning huge games.