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Odds and Ends

CFB futures market: Week 16

by Thor Nystrom
Updated On: December 15, 2020, 1:09 am ET

Heisman and national title odds courtesy of PointsBet.

 

Heisman odds

Player Position Team This week Last week    
Mac Jones QB Alabama Crimson Tide -200 -125    
Devonta Smith WR Alabama Crimson Tide 250 4500    
Kyle Trask QB Florida Gators 325 -112    
Trevor Lawrence QB Clemson Tigers 1100 1400    
Ian Book QB Notre Dame Irish 1200 4000    
Justin Fields QB Ohio State Buckeyes 4000 2000    
Zach Wilson QB BYU Cougars N/A 200000    
Brock Purdy QB Iowa State Cyclones N/A 200000    

 

  • Following Alabama’s dominant 52-3 win over Arkansas, QB Mac Jones has pulled even further ahead of the rest of the Heisman field. This week, he’s a -200 favorite, the steepest odds he’s been priced at all season. Because the victory over the Hogs got out of hand so quickly, Jones’ counting stats didn’t get a huge boost, though he continued to infuse an absurd amount of efficiency into his 2020 stat line. Jones went 24-for-29 passing for 208 yards with no TD or INT in the victory before giving way to Bryce Young. Next week, Jones will attempt to make his final argument to the voting bloc in the SEC title game against Florida. On the season, Jones has completed 76.4% of his passes for 3,321 yards with a 27/3 TD/INT rate.

 

  • The big story this week in Heisman futures is the enormous surge up the board of Jones’ teammate, WR Devonta Smith (+250). Smith only had three catches for 22 yards against Arkansas -- the Hogs rolled coverage to him, made sure multiple defenders were on him at all times, and Alabama's starters got the afternoon off early besides -- but Smith found a way to inflict damage anyway, returning a punt 84 yards for a touchdown. That punt return could prove crucial to Smith’s Heisman chances, as receivers are rarely considered for the award unless they contribute in other phases, no matter how much they dominate at their craft. Smith is up to a 83-1327-17 receiving line through 10 games with one additional rushing score and Saturday’s punt return to the house. The last non-quarterback to win the trophy was Alabama RB Derrick Henry in 2015. Desmond Howard was the last receiver to win the hardware, in 1991, nearly 30 years ago, and of course Howard had his returning exploits to aid his candidacy. The closest a receiver has come since 1991? Pitt WR Larry Fitzgerald finished 128 points behind Oklahoma QB Jason White in 2003. Even at the time, White said he thought Fitzgerald was going to win. In hindsight, that vote is an eyesore. But Heisman voters never learn. Smith needs to go nuclear with at least one special teams TD on Saturday against the Gators to pass Jones and steal the trophy. At his price last week, he was worth a bet. Not anymore.

  • Statistically, Florida QB Kyle Trask (+325) had a big game against LSU last Saturday -- throwing for 474 yards with two touchdowns and another two scores on the ground -- but he also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble as the Gators were stunned by the Tigers after Cade York hit a bomb to put LSU up by three and Evan McPherson’s 51-yard attempt to answer sailed left. Trask still has a shot at the award. It’s fairly straightforward, but it isn’t going to be easy: Florida needs to upset Alabama on Saturday, with Trask putting up awesome stats again. If the Gators beat the Crimson Tide, Trask would have the head-to-head matchup over Mac Jones and also the better statistical profile (70.2% completions for 3,717 yards and a 40/5 TD/INT rate with two rushing touchdowns). But why would you bet Trask at this price when, if you had that conviction, you could just bet Florida on the moneyline Saturday at a better return?

 

  • Trevor Lawrence’s two missed games due to COVID-19 earlier this season will end up costing him a shot at the trophy. Lawrence (+1100) is going to end up playing in nine games, compared to 11 for Trask, Jones and Smith. Clemson was idle last week, leading some to wonder why the ACC didn’t try to find the Tigers an impromptu opponent as an appetizer for the conference title game matchup against Notre Dame this weekend. But such a game wasn’t scheduled, and the fact of the matter is that Heisman voters -- rightly or wrongly -- are going to punish Lawrence for a lack of counting stats (69.2% passing for 2,431 yards and a 20/3 TD/INT rate).

 

  • Ian Book (+1200), sitting No. 5 on the PointsBet board, has met the 10-game threshold for serious consideration, but he isn’t going to have the statistical profile to win the award (63.3% passing for 2,381 yards and a 15/2 TD/INT rate while rushing for 465 yards and eight TD) -- barring something crazy to change the entire landscape like Notre Dame dominating Clemson on Saturday and Florida-Alabama turning into a low-scoring affair featuring multiple interceptions on both sides.

 

  • Like Lawrence, Ohio State QB Justin Fields (+4000) saw his candidacy become engulfed in flames due to COVID-19. Namely, three OSU game cancelations, and the Big 10’s unwillingness to get creative last week to get the Buckeyes an alternate opponent in advance of OSU’s date this weekend against Northwestern in the Big 10 title game. Fields’ per-game stats are absolutely Heisman worthy for the 5-0 Buckeyes (78.1 % passing for 1,407 yards and a 15/3 TD rate with 239 yards rushing and five TD on the ground). But to have had any chance at the award, Fields would have needed to play a minimum of nine games -- the eight on the schedule plus the Big 10 title game -- and preferably 10. Unfortunately, that just didn't happen.

Championship odds

Team This week Last week    
Alabama Crimson Tide -106 140    
Clemson Tigers 250 200    
Ohio State Buckeyes 450 400    
Notre Dame Irish 800 800    
Florida Gators 1600 1600    
Texas A&M Aggies 2500 2000    
Cincinnati Bearcats 4000 3500    
Indiana Hoosiers 15000 10000    
Georgia Bulldogs 20000 5000    
Northwestern Wildcats 20000 5000    
Oklahoma Sooners 20000 10000    
Iowa State Cyclones 20000 15000    
Miami Hurricanes 20000 25000    
BYU Cougars N/A 10000    
Oklahoma State Cowboys N/A 50000    

 

  • Alabama’s price got a wee bit steeper this week, going from -106 to -125, following their 49-point massacre over Arkansas. The Crimson Tide will now square off against Florida in the SEC title game. Alabama’s playoff ticket is all but booked -- it would take a non-competitive double-digit loss to even start a conversation to remove the Tide from the four-team playoff field.

 

  • Clemson, idle last week, is priced at +225, up from +250 last week. Notre Dame awaits in a much-anticipated rematch. This time, the Tigers will be led by Trevor Lawrence. Clemson, a 10-point favorite on Saturday against Notre Dame, is into the playoff with a win. They're out with a loss. The committee doesn't take two-loss teams, and they certainly don't take two-loss teams that didn't win their conference.

 

  • Like Clemson, Ohio State spent last weekend on bye while preparing for their conference title game, in OSU’s case, against Northwestern. The Buckeyes are listed at 4-to-1 odds this week to win the national title after garnering a +450 pricetag last week. Same deal for Ohio State as Clemson: Win and they're in. Lose and they're probably out -- it's difficult to envision the committee taking a 5-1 team that didn't win its conference.

 

  • Notre Dame (+700), sitting at No. 4 on the PointsBet board, has created an enormous amount of distance between themselves and the three teams currently listed at a tie for No. 5 on the board at +6600 (Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Florida). Notre Dame is into the playoff with either a win against Clemson on Saturday, or a close-ish loss -- I think a single-digit loss would do the trick. Notre Dame doesn't want to risk losing by 14 or more. A blowout loss in the conference title game -- coupled with the regular season win over Clemson coming against the Tigers' backup true freshman quarterback -- might cause the committee to bypass the Irish.

 

  • Florida lost to LSU over the weekend after CB Marco Wilson was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty for throwing a shoe of a Tigers tight end, which extended LSU's final drive and gave Cade York the opportunity to kick a game-winning 57-yard field goal. Not only would the Gators need to upset Alabama to make the playoff at this point, they’d probably have to do so by double-digits while getting help from other games being played on Saturday. No two-loss team has ever been selected to the playoff.

 

  • We should underscore the point above, because it's an important one heading into the weekend. Both to underline the point on Florida, but also to hit on some other contingencies we may see this weekend. Of the 24 teams selected in the history of the College Football Playoff, 21 have been undefeated or one-loss conference Power-5 conference champions. The 22nd was undefeated Notre Dame in 2018. Twice, the committee selected a one-loss Power 5 that did not play in their conference championship game. 

 

  • What does this mean? Florida, Oklahoma and Iowa State are all but eliminated barring abject chaos on Saturday. Clemson won’t make the playoff if it gets upset on Saturday. And…

 

  • When the dust clears, the Texas A&M Aggies (+6600) are my pick for the surprise entrant into this year’s field, which makes them worth a small bet at 66-to-1 for the title on implied odds alone. A&M is favored by 14.5 at Tennessee this week and will win in a route, at which time they can sit back and hope that either Clemson loses, or Notre Dame loses by 14-or-more. Either scenario, or a Northwestern upset over Ohio State, would likely propel A&M into the four-team field. History tells us that the committee won't reward the two-loss Big 12 champion over A&M. And even if Florida upset Alabama, the committee would be making an unprecedented decision in selecting the Gators. Teams in A&M's circumstance actually have been selected into the field twice. The Aggies are in a better spot than the odds reflect.

Week 16 games of note:

Buffalo Bulls vs. Ball State Cardinals (MAC title, Friday)

Marshall Thundering Herd vs. UAB Blazers (Conference USA title, Friday)

USC Trojans vs. Washington Huskies (Pac-12 title, Friday)

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Northwestern Wildcats (Big 10 title)

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Iowa State Cyclones (Big 12 title)

Clemson Tigers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (ACC title)

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers vs. Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (Sun Belt title)

Boise State Broncos vs. San Jose State Spartans (MWC title)

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (AAC title)

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Florida Gators (SEC title)


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Thor Nystrom

Thor Nystrom is Rotoworld’s lead CFB writer. The 2018 FSWA College Sports Writer of the Year, Nystrom’s writing has also been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to him on Twitter @thorku!