Everyone back into the pool.
Sportsbooks have adjusted college football futures, then readjusted, then readjusted again as conferences opted out and then back in for this season.
Now with every league set to play, the futures landscape is back closer to what it was before the coronavirus pandemic. Clemson (+250), Ohio State (+300) and Alabama (+450) are in a tier by themselves at the Westgate, followed by Florida and Georgia at 12-1. Everyone else is 20-1 or worse.
Rules vary, but most sportsbooks say that action on college football title futures stands no matter when the bets were placed. Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said the book has grown accustomed to rolling with the punches during the pandemic.
“The whole year has been weird since March,” he said. “… At this stage you’re just numb to it.”
What’s not weird to see is the three teams at the top of the futures list. Clemson lost in the national title game last season and still has quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumed No. 1 overall pick in the next NFL draft. The Tigers are 2-0 this season with easy wins over Wake Forest and The Citadel.
Ohio State lost to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals last season and returns quarterback Justin Fields. The Big Ten was one of the last conferences to decide to play this season, and the Buckeyes will start an eight-game regular season Oct. 24.
Alabama missed the playoff last season for the first time since 2014. The Crimson Tide are replacing departed quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with Mac Jones. They defeated Missouri 38-19 in their season opener Saturday.
Salmons said a bettor placed a $25,000 wager on Alabama to win the title at 5-1 on Sunday, and the Tide’s price was adjusted down slightly to +450. The same bettor also bet $15,000 on Alabama to win the Southeastern Conference championship game at -110 odds. The Tide are now -140 to win the SEC.
One team that almost surely won’t be in the title mix is defending champion Louisiana State. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow is gone as the top overall pick in the NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Tigers fell flat in their opener, losing 44-34 at home to Mississippi State.
Salmons said the Westgate had some liability on LSU to win the title before the season.
“I didn’t think LSU had any chance this year,” he said. “They were 16-1 at some places, but I had 40-1.”
The Tigers are 200-1 at the Westgate after losing the opener.
Salmons said the Westgate also has some liability on Oklahoma State (60-1) and North Carolina (100-1). The book has also taken 22 separate $5 bets on Boston College to win the title at 10,000-1, he said.
In conference futures, the Westgate took $8,000 on Alabama-Birmingham to win Conference USA at +350 (now +160), Salmons said.
Handicapper Brian Edwards (BrianEdwardsSports.com) said Alabama and Florida were the teams he would target at current prices.
“You’re almost guaranteed to have one in the semis, and you could get both in the semis,” he said.
Edwards said he rates Florida as a touchdown better than Georgia, its rival in the SEC East division. He said he thinks the Gators have the best tight end (Kyle Pitts) and kicker (Evan McPherson) in the country and the best quarterback in the SEC in Kyle Trask. Florida beat Mississippi 51-35 in its opener.
Florida is available at 16-1 at Boyd Gaming and MGM Resorts. The Westgate and Caesars Entertainment have the best price on Alabama at +450.