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NCAAF national championship odds update: Is Michigan a legitimate contender?

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Jeremy Balan

October 18th, 2021

We've reached a stage of stagnation in the college football national championship futures market.

The top five on the odds board remain exactly the same, as Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Cincinnati all handled their business last week, and Ohio State had a bye.

Are there any surprises left, or have we narrowed it down to the short list of contenders? Let's dive in and take a look.

NCAAF Championship 2021/2022

Sun, December 5 2021, 10:55 AM

Georgia Bulldogs


Alabama Crimson Tide


Ohio State Buckeyes


Oklahoma Sooners


Cincinnati Bearcats


Michigan Wolverines


Arizona State Sun Devils


Oregon Ducks


Clemson Tigers


Oklahoma State Cowboys


Is Michigan a viable threat to win the national title?

Just outside the top five on the odds board to win the College Football Playoff National Championship, and with a significant gap behind to the rest of the pack, are the undefeated Michigan Wolverines.

But are you inspired by the results?

There are a couple blowouts over MAC schools, convincing wins over quality programs that are down at the moment (Washington and Wisconsin), and too-close-for-comfort victories against subpar competition (Rutgers and Nebraska).

In Michigan's most recent game, against Nebraska on Oct. 9, the Cornhuskers led, 29-26, midway through the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines tied it and pushed ahead with two field goals in the final three minutes.

That game was in Lincoln, and road games in conference are never guaranteed, but the Rutgers win was in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines jumped out to a 20-3 lead in the first half, but sleepwalked through the second half, and Rutgers nearly came all the way back to spoil the party in a 20-17 loss. The Michigan offense was anemic that afternoon, and Rutgers outgained the Wolverines, 352-275, in yardage.

Is there a value to finding a way to win, when it isn't your best day, against a poor opponent? Sure. But more than once?

I like to see a little more killer instinct in my national championship contenders.

It's over for Iowa

There are letdown spots, and then there's what happened to Iowa on Saturday.

The hangover angle, after a huge ranked win, is a real thing, but what happened at Kinnick Stadium was an embarrassment for the Hawkeyes.

Usually the better team wakes up from the hangover at some during the game, but the No. 2 team in the nation, off a signature win against Penn State, looked completely unprepared for Purdue and looked like the far inferior team throughout. Purdue nearly doubled Iowa's yardage and forced four turnovers.

Iowa is still a quality team, but its performance on both sides of the ball Saturday made it clear that the Hawkeyes do not have what it takes to go all the way.

Movers and shakers

There hasn't been much moving and shaking among contenders this week, other than Iowa's drop from +2500 to +10000.

Texas also plummeted from +6600 to +50000, but if you wagered on the two-loss (now three-loss, after a setback to Oklahoma State) Longhorns last week, I feel you deserve what you got.

On the other hand, Oklahoma State jumped from +50000 into the top 10 on the odds board (+8000).

The undefeated Cowboys have squeaked by in way too many games to be considered a serious contender, although they have improved since the early stages of the season. Single-digit wins over Missouri State, Tulsa, and Boise State have evolved into double-digit margins over Kansas State and Baylor, and the big win in Austin on Saturday.

But the rumor is, with every win, Mike Gundy's hair grows longer and more powerful. If it gets back to mullet length by November, look out.