College football betting: An opportunity to buy on Clemson?

·5-min read

Week 1 of the college football season has come and gone. There were plenty of intriguing storylines and great games, but one game seems to have had the biggest impact in terms of the national landscape. 

In Saturday's marquee matchup, the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Clemson Tigers, 10-3. Georgia was a consensus 3-point underdog before kickoff. Clemson generated just 180 yards of total offense with first year starter D.J. Uiagalelei at quarterback. 

After opening the season at +450 to win the national championship, the Clemson Tigers are now listed at +700 after their season-opening loss. Is it a worthwhile proposition to ignore the noise and take advantage of the market shift?

Laying out the landscape

Despite Clemson's loss, it still has the fourth-best odds of winning the national championship. Only Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State have better odds than the Tigers. Oklahoma sits just behind Clemson, with +800 odds to win it all. 

Those five are the only schools in the country with odds at better than 30-to-1. The market suggests that schools like Texas A&M, Penn State and Florida are quite unlikely to make a run for a national championship. USC and Oregon are sitting at 66-1, the best odds amongst Pac-12 schools. 

An easy loss to excuse

When looking at resumes at the end of the season, we often analyze the losses on a team's schedule. How "bad" of a loss was it? What factors were at play?

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 04: Dabo Swinney head coach of Clemson on the sidelines during the Duke's Mayo Classic college football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tiger on September 4, 2012, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Dabo Swinney, head coach of Clemson, paces on the sidelines against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. (John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

When it comes to Clemson's loss on Saturday, it's going to be an easy loss to excuse. Georgia will almost certainly be in the playoff picture as well, meaning the quality of opponent is high. It'll be viewed as an early season, non-conference loss at a neutral site against another elite school.

If Uiagalelei shows growth throughout the season, it'd be easier to write-off his performance in Week 1. In his first season as the team's starter, he was immediately thrown to the wolves in his first start of the season against arguably the country's best defense. If Uiagalelei is in the Heisman picture at the end of the season, we'll be quick to excuse his stinker on Saturday as a young quarterback going through growing pains. 

No more losses coming?

I don't see another loss on the schedule for Clemson. Those might be famous last words, but Clemson is the cream of the crop in the ACC and no other schools come close to matching up. 

To make things even easier for Clemson, it avoids North Carolina and Miami in the regular season. Prior to those two schools losing in Week 1, they were viewed as the next best teams in the conference. Virginia Tech, who beat North Carolina, is also not on the Tigers' schedule. 

No other opponent on Clemson's schedule was ranked in the Top 25 heading into the season opener. Teams like North Carolina State and Boston College might offer some competition, but Clemson will be favored by double digits in both of those games. While the strength of schedule might be a negative against Clemson, it'll be hard to discount 12 straight wins if they win the ACC championship game. 

Others might get tripped up

If we proceed with the assumption that four of Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma make the playoff, it makes things easier to analyze. We might even be smart to concede two SEC teams making the final four, which means one of Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma won't make it. 

Ohio State was solid, but unspectacular in its season-opening win against Minnesota. Its defense struggled at times to stop the run and get off the field. The Buckeyes will face some stiff challenges during the season. They still have Oregon, Penn State and Michigan on their schedule. While the Buckeyes will be favorites in all of these games, these teams pose a much tougher challenge than anything on Clemson's schedule. 

In Week 1, Oklahoma proved it's a threat to lose a game at any time. The Sooners survived Tulane, winning the game by five points as 31.5 point favorites. The Sooners have lost to Kansas State in back-to-back seasons. They've lost to Iowa State twice in the last four years. Texas and Oklahoma State are big rivalry games that always seem to be close. 

If you believe, buy now

At the end of the season, I believe Clemson will be sitting there as a one-loss conference champion with their only loss coming in Week 1 (which will feel like ages ago) to Georgia (a team I expect to be in the playoff). Is that resume going to be good enough to get in? In most seasons, I think the answer is yes. 

If Clemson makes the college football playoff, I'd love to be holding a +700 ticket on a perennial contender coached by Dabo Swinney. There's no way that price will be available in December if things go right for the Tigers. 

I'd ask one question: Do you think Clemson loses another game this season? If your answer is yes, then don't bother. They would have no chance of getting in as a two-loss team with this schedule. However, if your answer is no, then this is a prime opportunity to buy the dip. If Clemson runs the table, it should get in and it probably will never be better than +700 again.  

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