The College Football Playoff committee will release its first set of rankings on Tuesday, providing a clearer picture of what the four-team field that will battle for the national title will look like.
While there are several more weeks of regular-season action to play and surely plenty more upsets forthcoming, Sporting News college football writer Bill Bender projects these as the New Year’s Day semifinals:
Rose Bowl Game: Oregon vs. Florida State
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Mississippi State
Bender leaves out Alabama, the 5-to-1 favorite on the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook’s odds board. The Crimson Tide have games at LSU and home against Mississippi State and Auburn still remaining, in addition to the SEC title game, so there are lots of potential pitfalls.
Georgia, tied for second on the SuperBook’s futures board at 6-to-1 odds, also misses Bender’s list. The Bulldogs rank just 9th in the AP Poll, but their national championship hopes are buttressed by playing in the SEC East, the far weaker of the conference’s two divisions. The thinking behind the Dawgs’ short odds is this: If they win the East, they’re in the SEC title game, and a win there gets them in the playoffs.
While Oregon (tied with Georgia at 6-to-1 odds), Florida State (7-to-1) and Mississippi State (7-to-1) are all projected by Bender to get a playoff invite, the one Las Vegas outsider he expects to be there, Notre Dame, is offered at a healthy 20-to-1 price.
“The Irish will have to win out with no conference championship game,” Bender writes, “but the four-team playoff appeal hasn’t changed.”
Here’s the college football futures board at the Westgate:
ODDS TO WIN 2015 COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, ARLINGTON, TEX., MONDAY, JAN. 12 (last week's prices in parentheses)
OREGON 6-1 (7-1)
FLORIDA ST 7-1
MISSISSIPPI ST 7-1
OLE MISS 8-1 (5-1)
MICHIGAN ST 8-1 (7-1)
OHIO ST 12-1 (10-1)
TCU 12-1 (15-1)
BAYLOR 20-1 (25-1)
KANSAS ST 20-1 (25-1)
NOTRE DAME 20-1 (30-1)
ARIZONA ST 30-1 (75-1)
NEBRASKA 40-1 (50-1)
ARIZONA 50-1 (100-1)
DUKE 300-1 (500-1)
USC 500-1 (60-1)
WISCONSIN 500-1 (1000-1)
STANFORD 500-1 (1000-1)
BOISE ST 9999-1
GEORGIA TECH 9999-1
FIELD 500-1 (300-1)