There’s not much of a payoff if you think Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma will be the four College Football Playoff teams at the end of the 2021 season.
The four teams are all from different conferences and are the consensus top four entering the 2021 season. It’s unsurprising they’re the clear favorites to make the playoff. And that combination of playoff teams is just +180 at BetMGM to end up as the playoff field.
Clemson has made the playoff in each of the past six seasons while Alabama has made the final four in six of the seven iterations of the playoff. Both Ohio State and Oklahoma have made the playoff four times.
No other four-team combination has close to the same betting odds, either. The No. 2 combination is at +400. That includes Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State and swaps out Oklahoma for Georgia. The Bulldogs are the top challenger to Alabama in the SEC and have been part of a two-SEC team playoff field before. Alabama and Georgia both made the playoff at the end of the 2017 season and the Crimson Tide beat the Bulldogs to win the national title.
If you think Georgia and Oklahoma both make the playoff, you can get those two teams along with Alabama and Clemson at +425. You can swap out Clemson for Ohio State in that combination at +450. A playoff without Clemson would be the first playoff since the inaugural version in 2014 to not feature the Tigers.
What about the Pac-12?
None of the 10 combinations with the lowest odds feature a Pac-12 team. That’s reasonable; a Pac-12 team hasn’t made the College Football Playoff since Washington did after the 2016 season.
The lowest odds of any playoff combination to feature a Pac-12 team are at +1200. You can get six different combinations of playoff fields at that odds with either Oregon, USC, or Washington in the field.
A playoff field featuring Notre Dame doesn’t have any odds better than +1400. The most likely combinations featuring Notre Dame are Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame or Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Notre Dame. The Irish are having to replace eight starters on offense and five starters on defense from their playoff team of a year ago.
Combinations without the SEC
Like with the Pac-12, you have to go down the board a ways to find a combination without a team from the SEC. The top combination without Alabama is Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma at +550. The top combo without either Georgia or Alabama is Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Iowa State. That playoff field is at +1200.
If you like Texas A&M’s odds to win the SEC, you can get the Aggies in the playoff with Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma at +1400. That’s the top combination of teams featuring the Aggies as the lone SEC representative.
The odds are even longer to find a playoff field with an ACC team that isn’t Clemson. A four-team combination of Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and North Carolina is the top non-Clemson ACC option on the board at +2200.
Top playoff fields
Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma (+180)
Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia (+400)
Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia (+425)
Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia (+450)
Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia (+550)
Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Iowa State (+1000)
Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Iowa State (+1000)
Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Iowa State (+1000)
Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Texas A&M (+1100)
Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Texas A&M (+1100)