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Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The best handicapping strategy when it comes to future prices

Championship Saturday is the annual prelude to college football’s national championship tournament.

That makes this the ideal time to check in on future prices.

Can you outsmart sportsbooks by jumping in now on any of these?

National Championship odds

Team Odds ML
Alabama 5/11 -220
Clemson 14/5 +280
Notre Dame 13/2 +650
Georgia 12/1 +1200
Ohio State 14/1 +1400
Oklahoma 15/1 +1500

                                                                              Odds by William Hill

It’s a good habit to think in money-line terms as you evaluate futures prices. You should also develop a sense for individual game money lines.

  •  Oklahoma will close around -8 versus Texas in the Big 12 championship. That will yield money lines in the vicinity of Oklahoma -320 (risk $32 to win $10) and Texas +260 (risk $10 to win $26). A while back, the Westgate in Las Vegas posted an early line of Alabama -8 over Clemson should those two superpowers meet in the title game. Now you know what the money line’s going to look like.
  • Alabama will close around -13 against Georgia in the SEC title tilt. Late-week money lines were near Alabama -500, Georgia +400. It’s handy to know that, because we’ll see similar offers for Alabama against either Oklahoma or Ohio State in the national semifinals if Georgia isn’t there.
  • Ohio State should close around -14 against Northwestern in the Big 10 final. Equivalent money lines would be OSU -700, Northwestern +500. There’s a chance we’ll see lines even higher than this in the final four if Alabama draws Notre Dame in a semifinal or in the finale — possibly as high as Alabama -800, Notre Dame +600.

And, that’s why this exercise is helpful. We showed at the top that William Hill is paying only +650 on Notre Dame to win the championship. Yet, the Fighting Irish would be close to +600 head-to-head in just one game against Alabama! Assuming a likely Notre Dame pathway of Clemson/Alabama, parlay calculators show a “rolling money line parlay” of Notre Dame versus Clemson, followed by a full re-investment on Notre Dame versus Alabama would pay anywhere from +2000 to +3000 depending on where the market settles.

(A “rolling parlay” is placing your initial stake on a team to win its first game straight up, then reinvesting your full return each time through a championship sequence.)

If you’re thinking of betting Notre Dame to go the distance, would you rather win 13/2 or 20/1? Is Georgia a lightning bolt waiting to strike? Betting the Bulldogs to win three straight as pricey underdogs would pay better than 70/1 if Georgia has to beat Alabama on Saturday and win two playoff games. That’s way better than 12/1.

The smart way to bet a championship is not by way of futures prices. It’s by mapping out superior parlay potential for your championship choice.

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