Comparing the AP College Football Poll to Week 1 Lines & Futures Odds

The Associated Press released their Top 25 on Monday. Spoiler alert, Nick Saban, champion of even playing fields, and his Alabama Crimson Tide are No. 1. Not surprising considering their status as betting favorites (+180 @ FanDuel) to win the National Championship.

This is the ninth time in program history and the seventh time under Saban that Bama begins the season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason college football poll. The headman has led the program to six national titles over the past 13 seasons but has gone wire-to-wire just once. The Tide have been no lower than No. 3 in the preseason Top 25 for an eye-popping 13 consecutive seasons.

The Futures Betting Market

The SEC Champs are followed by No. 2 Ohio State (+300), No. 3 Georgia (+350), and No. 4 Clemson (+800) in the AP to round out the top four in lockstep with the betting market. That’s where things begin to get interesting as the following team in the AP Top 25 is No. 5 Notre Dame, which differs from the betting odds where USC (+2000) is behind the Big 4.  

You have to scroll all the way down to No. 14 to find the Men of Troy in the AP Top 25. A clear indicator that either the writers are underrating the Trojans or the betting market is overly bullish. I’m on the side of it being the latter. 

At (+6000), the Fighting Irish are ninth on the FanDuel Championship odds.

First-Place Votes

The Crimson Tide garnered 54 out of a potential 63 first-place votes.

The Buckeyes received six first-place votes and the defending champion Bulldogs three.

No AP voter would sign their ballot with the Texas Longhorns ranked No. 1 (see Coaches Poll). Some professions have more self-respect than others.

The Betting Line Gap

The SEC leads all conferences with six Top 25 teams, including three on Alabama’s schedule: No. 6 Texas A&MNo. 19 Arkansas, and No. 21 Ole Miss.

For some perspective, despite only five places separating them in the poll, the Crimson Tide are a 16-point favorite over the Aggies at FanDuel Sportsbook. They’re favored by 17 at Arkansas, with a trip to unranked Tennessee (-13.5) presenting the smallest point spread in an Alabama game heading into the season. The Vols are next up as the leader of the pack among “others receiving votes.”

The second-ranked Buckeyes face a pair of top 10 teams in No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 8 Michigan, both at home, and neither are expected to give them too much trouble. OSU is a 15-point favorite in Week 1 over the Irish and a 13.5-point favorite over the rival Wolverines to close out the regular season.

The closest point spread involving a top-five team heading into the season pits No. 4 Clemson visiting South Bend on Nov. 5 to take on the fifth-ranked Irish, with the Tigers a 3-point favorite on the road.

Who might be overvalued by the AP? 

No. 7 Utah (-2 ) opens the season at Florida and isn’t getting respect from the betting line.

Neither is No. 17 Pittsburgh (+3.5) at home against Tennessee or No. 20 Kentucky (+4) at the unranked Gators (both in Week 2).

Both Tennessee (+10000) and Florida (+12000) are in the top 20 when it comes to national championship odds, while Pitt (+30000) barely cracks the top 50. 

More Week 1

No. 3 Georgia doesn’t have a top-10 team on their schedule, but they open against No. 11 Oregon (in Atlanta). You wouldn’t know it looking at the spread, as the Dawgs are a 17.5-point favorite over the Ducks. 

Another Week 1 matchup between ranked teams is No. 19 Arkansas (-7) vs. No. 23 Cincinnati

The 17th-ranked Panthers are a touchdown favorite against West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl, while No. 24 Houston is giving UTSA six points on the road. 

Comparing Polls

The ‘Horns opened at No. 18 in the Coaches Poll and are unranked in the AP Top 25.

Other than Texas, there aren’t many discrepancies when comparing the polls. 

No. 25 BYU is the lone team in the AP that’s not in the Coaches Poll.

Only a handful of schools differ by more than one spot from one poll to the other. No. 8 Michigan is sixth in the Coaches Poll, No. 18 Wisconsin is 20th, No. 19 Arkansas is 23rd, No. 21 Ole Miss is 24th, and No. 22 Wake Forest is 19th.

Looking for a potential sleeper?

How about No. 10 Baylor (+15000)?

The Bears barely cracked the top 20 of FanDuel’s betting odds, checking in at No. 20, tied with five other teams, just ahead of South Carolina, Wake Forest, UCLA, and Nebraska (all +20000), none of whom are expected to compete for a conference title.