There are just three weeks of regular season college football remaining. Last week, we saw some key results that impacted the national landscape. Tennessee lost its first game of the season to current No. 1 Georgia. Clemson was ranked fourth, but it lost to Notre Dame and is now an extreme long shot to be in the playoff picture. Alabama lost at LSU, and its road to the College Football Playoff is now extremely murky.
The next few weeks will surely see some more chaos. The biggest game of the upcoming weekend is in Austin, where No. 4 TCU looks to stay undefeated. However, the Horned Frogs are 7-point road underdogs against Texas. With just three weeks remaining, what do oddsmakers make of the current playoff picture?
Georgia is all but a lock
Last weekend, Georgia secured a home victory against then-No. 1 Tennessee. The Bulldogs are undefeated and have comfortable wins over two teams currently ranked in the top six of the CFP rankings. They've beaten No. 5 Tennessee and No. 6 Oregon by a combined score of 76-16.
The win over Tennessee all but confirms that Georgia will play in the SEC championship game. The Vols will be sizable favorites in that game. Even if they lose, it seems like their resume would be enough to get them in.
Market consensus has Georgia as between a -1800 and -4000 favorite to make the College Football Playoff. Those odds suggest Georgia makes the playoff between 95 and 98 percent of the time. It would take some major upsets and chaos for Georgia not to be included.
Ohio State has leg up over Michigan
All season long, it's felt like we've been waiting for the Ohio State-Michigan game to see who wins the Big Ten and who ultimately makes the College Football Playoff. This week, both the Buckeyes and Wolverines are laying 30-plus points against Indiana and Nebraska, respectively. Their long-awaited matchup is still two weeks away.
Ohio State is between a -650 and -700 favorite to make the playoff across the industry. Meanwhile, Michigan is a slight underdog to make it at +130.
On the lookahead line, Ohio State is an 8.5-point favorite against Michigan on Nov. 26. Most have the Buckeyes ranked as a slightly better team and Ohio State hosts the game this time around. For that reason, they're big favorites in the game and as a result, large favorites to make the playoff.
The big question would be whether either of these teams has a chance to make the playoff as a one-loss non-conference champion. The Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC all have a chance of producing a one-loss conference champion. It would be a tough sell to get the loser of this game in the playoff.
Based on these odds, oddsmakers expect Ohio State to beat Michigan and win the Big Ten. Ohio State is a -400 favorite to win the conference. If you like Michigan to pull off the upset, you can bet them to win the Big Ten at +350. However, with Michigan's odds to make the playoff at just +130, oddsmakers are telling you that they can see a world where they get in even if they lose to Ohio State.
If the Vols wins out, are they in?
After their loss to Georgia, it's extremely unlikely that the Vols will play in the SEC championship game. They have Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt remaining on their schedule. That's far from a difficult schedule.
So does an 11-1 non-conference champion get in out of the SEC? Oddsmakers seem to think so. Tennessee is around a -200 favorite to make the College Football Playoff, according to market consensus. Those odds suggest the Vols get in over 66% of the time.
They have some big wins on their resume against Alabama and LSU to help their case. However, they likely won't be a part of conference championship weekend. They won't have one final opportunity to impress the committee before the final rankings are released. On the flip side, they won't have to worry about picking up a potential second loss.
The rest of the field
If we take oddsmakers at their word, Georgia, Ohio State and Tennessee should be in good shape if they take care of business. That would leave one spot remaining in the playoff field and plenty of teams that think they have a case.
We already touched on Michigan above. They are the fourth most likely team to make the playoff, according to the oddsmakers.
A lot of the intrigue comes in the Pac-12. The conference has three one-loss teams with explainable losses. Oregon lost way back in Week 1 in their first game with a new coaching staff against Georgia. USC lost by one point on the road in Utah. UCLA lost on the road at Oregon.
Oregon is viewed as the most likely of these teams to get in. The Ducks are currently ranked No. 6. Their average odds to get in to the playoff are around +300. If they run the table, they'll be a one-loss conference champion, with their only loss coming to the best team in the country. You'd like to think the committee doesn't consider these things, but would it be hesitant to set up a Georgia-Oregon rematch after what we saw the first time around (a 49-3 Georgia win)?
USC is around +425 across the market to make the playoff. At some places, the Trojans are as low as +300. In other places, they're as high as +550. They have chances to pick up some marquee wins down the stretch as they have No. 12 UCLA, No. 20 Notre Dame and potentially the Pac-12 championship still ahead of them. They could also of course lose one of those games and all but eliminate themselves.
UCLA is +500 to make it. They host USC next weekend. If the Bruins win there, they could then potentially avenge their only loss in the Pac-12 championship game if they beat Oregon.
As for the rest of the country, would a 2-loss SEC champion get in? LSU would love the opportunity to find out. The Tigers are +400 to make the playoff across the market. If they get to the SEC championship game, they'll be sizable underdogs against Georgia. Even if they win that game, there will be people who say that Tennessee should get in ahead of them due to fewer losses and the head-to-head result.
TCU is the Big 12's only hope. Every other team in the conference has at least three losses. The committee finally gave the Horned Frogs some respect, ranking them No. 4 this week. However, TCU is a sizable road underdog at Texas this weekend. If the Horned Frogs win that game, they have another tough game at Baylor next week. If TCU is an undefeated conference champion, it'll get in. However, getting there is going to take a lot. That's why TCU is between +550 and +650 to make the playoff across the market.
Clemson's loss last weekend makes it tough for the ACC. However, there's a chance they have a one-loss conference champion. Clemson has an average price of +500 to make the playoff. North Carolina is a long shot at 11-to-1.
Alabama needs a minor miracle to make it to the SEC championship game. They would need LSU to lose two of their last three and then Alabama would need to win out. They would then need to beat Georgia in the SEC championship game and hope the committee has the appetite to send a two-loss team to the playoff. However, Alabama has name recognition, so there are still odds posted. Alabama is between 11-to-1 and 14-to-1 to make the playoff across the market.