The Alabama Crimson Tide is expected to roll through the College Football Playoff (CFP) and successfully defend their National Championship.
The CFP Selection Committee revealed their final rankings on Sunday, and those in Columbus, Seattle, Clemson, and State College were on the edges of their seats awaiting the results. But in Tuscaloosa, there was no team watch party. It was simply business are usual.
The (13-0) Alabama Crimson Tide and the rest of the country knew Nick Saban’s team had locked up the #1 ranking. And Vegas oddsmakers are convinced they won’t be leaving their perch.
The Westgate SuperBook lists Alabama at 2/5 to win the National Championship. #3 Ohio State is at 7/2, #2 Clemson is at 7/1, and #4 Washington is at 18/1.
Online sportsbook Bovada has the Tide at -250, meaning you’ll need to wager $250 on Bama to win $100. The Buckeyes post at +500, Clemson at +575, and Washington is the underdog at +1200.
Washington Coach Chris Petersen knows his squad has his work cut out for them by facing Alabama in the semifinals on New Year’s Eve.
“I don’t think there’s a better program in the country,” Petersen said. “This will be the toughest challenge that any of us has seen for quite a while.”
Big Ten champs Penn State (#5, 11-2) made a case for inclusion, but the Selection Committee left the Nittany Lions out in favor of the Huskies.
Peach Bowl: 3:00 pm ET
Both CFP semifinal games will be played on December 31. The first is the Peach Bowl between Washington (12-1) and unbeaten Alabama held in Atlanta.
Vegas agrees with Saban that this might be his best football team the five-time champion coach has ever assembled. Alabama opened as a 14-point favorite over the Huskies.
But if Alabama does have a weakness, it would be their secondary.
Washington has a strong air attack, which is of course led by their quarterback Jake Browning. He’s thrown for 3,280 yards on 42 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.
Fiesta Bowl: 7:00 pm ET
The second semifinal game is expected to be the closer of the two. Clemson (12-1) and Ohio State (11-1) both have the playmakers to give Alabama a run, but they first must win the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona.
Westgate has the Buckeyes giving the Tigers three points, but that could change as betting moves the lines over the next three weeks.
Led by quarterback and Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson, Clemson has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. But Ohio State counters with the best defense in the country not named Alabama, and will look to slow down Watson and the Tigers.
Coaches Urban Meyer and Dabo Swinney have the utmost respect for one another.
“Excellent staff, excellent head coach, and they’re loaded,” Meyer said Sunday. Swinney returned the favor by saying, “They’re the Buckeyes. You look at what Urban Meyer’s done . . . it’s incredible.”
For the rest of college football fans who didn’t see their team make the playoffs, a packed 41-game bowl season schedule kicks off on December 17.