Smart money: Bet on Georgia to make the College Football Playoff

Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (98) bends over dejected reacting to missing a field goal attempt in double over time as South Carolina celebrates a 20-17 upset victory in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct., 12, 2019, in Athens, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (98) bends over dejected reacting to missing a field goal attempt in double over time as South Carolina celebrates a 20-17 upset victory in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct., 12, 2019, in Athens, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Yahoo! is partnering with The Action Network during the football season to bring you expert sports betting information and analysis. Analysis provided by Collin Wilson.

As soon as Clemson was done putting the finishing touches on its title-clinching win over Alabama last January, the discussion about 2020 began. Clemson and ‘Bama were going to top the board, again. But what other teams outside of college football’s current ruling parties could realistically make a play at the title?

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Oklahoma didn’t have a quarterback, Urban Meyer was leaving Ohio State and there were plenty of question marks surrounding Michigan. That left Georgia as the consensus “best of the rest.” After opening at 14-1, Georgia was almost immediately bet down to the single-digits.

College football is a cruel game and one bad day is all it takes to derail a season. Georgia’s loss at home to South Carolina shook up the College Football Playoff picture, but did it end Georgia’s hopes at getting back to the tournament? Or is there still a path for Georgia to get to the College Football Playoff?

And more importantly, is now the right time to throw some money on a team that everybody else will be counting out?

Fans often look at a loss in college football as a death-blow, but futures bettors should look at it as an opportunity.

Can Georgia still make the College Football Playoff?

Yes.

Georgia will need to run the table and win the SEC Championship, but wins over Florida, Auburn, Missouri and Texas A&M, and then whoever makes it out of the SEC West (Alabama or LSU, most likely) should be enough for a one-loss Georgia team to earn a spot in the dance.

The College Football Playoff isn’t reserved for undefeated teams. We’ve seen plenty of teams overcome bad defeats to make a run to the tournament.

In 2014, Ohio State lost at home to a Virginia Tech team that went on to finish 7-6. The Buckeyes still made the playoff and won the national title. Ohio State was as high as 50-1 after the loss to the Hokies in Week 2.

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The next season, Michigan State made the playoff despite a loss against Nebraska. In 2017, Clemson lost to 4-8 Syracuse before winning the ACC and making the playoff, underlining the fact that a single loss — no matter how bad it is — does not dash your hopes of competing for a national title.

Are the 2019 Georgia Bulldogs going to be the next team to overcome a dud to make the dance?

Wilson: Using projected spreads to answer the Georgia question

The Bulldogs are still contenders thanks to an excellent defense, which currently ranks 31st in defensive havoc and eighth in defensive success rate.

The problem is that the offense is being held back by conservative play calling, even though new offensive coordinator James Coley has seemingly fixed Georgia’s red zone issues from last season. The Bulldogs rank fourth in red zone scoring percentage and are inside the top-25 in red zone touchdown rate.

Georgia is maximizing its trips into opponent territory, but the biggest problem is Coley’s conservative play calling is allowing opponents like Notre Dame and South Carolina to hang around.

Georgia is now listed at 16-1 to win the National Title at the Westgate SuperBook. The best way to decide if Georgia is worth an investment is to take a look at its schedule, using listed odds for this week and our projected spreads beyond that, to see how tough the path will be:

● Kentucky +24.5

● Florida +6 (projected)

● Missouri +12 (projected)

● At Auburn +4 (projected)

● Texas A&M +12 (projected)

● At Georgia Tech +30.5 (projected)

● SEC Championship Game: Alabama -10, LSU -3.5 (projected)

Generating projected moneyline prices for Georgia’s remaining schedule puts the Bulldogs around +240 to make the SEC Championship game without another loss. A head-to-head with Alabama would put Georgia’s odds to make the playoffs at 13-1, while a game against LSU projects the Bulldogs at 7-1.

That means that the best way to invest in Georgia to win the national title is to create a rolling parlay. The Bulldogs will need to win out to have a chance, so a bet on the ‘Dawgs to win the title is basically a 9-team parlay from Week 8 through the national championship game.

So instead of backing Georgia at 16-1, you’d stake a bet (let’s say $100 for a nice round number) on Georgia’s moneyline. After each win, you’d fully re-invest your initial stake and profit and keep rolling it over game by game (some sportsbooks offer the option to create open parlays, so if you have that option you can always go that route).

If you choose to roll Georgia throughout the rest of the season, the real value would come if Alabama defeats LSU to make the SEC Championship. If everything goes according to plan and Georgia wins out, this rolling parlay would be around 35-1 if LSU is its SEC Championship opponent, but 65-1 if it’s Alabama, assuming Georgia is a +120 underdog in both the CFB semifinals and championship game.

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