College Football Odds & Polls: Coaches, Sportsbooks Agree On Top Teams

Written By Russ Mitchell on August 11, 2021 - Last Updated on July 22, 2022
college preseason odds 2021

The college football coaches have spoken and the conversation will sound familiar lots of fans around the country.

USA Today released its Sports AFCA Football Preseason Coaches Poll on Tuesday. Alabama is at the top of the preseason poll. Clemson, Oklahoma and Ohio State are in the mix … again. Even Georgia at No. 5 is fairly predictable.

Sportsbooks like predictable. So, it’s no surprise that the Coaches Poll top five teams also have the shortest odds to win the national championship in January.

Johnny Avello, the DraftKings director of race and sports operations, said as much when PlayIA talked with him during spring practice season:

“You’ve usually got your mainstays. I can take these teams, throw them in there every single year, and they’re going to be in top five: That’s Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. It’s just been that way. Added to the mix, Georgia usually is in there as well as Oklahoma. LSU was in the conversation, but they’re not as steady of a team as those others I just mentioned.”

Here’s a look at the full poll, which dates back to 1950. The Crimson Tide claimed 63 of the 65 first-place votes from the panel of coaches. Oklahoma got the other two first-place votes.

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell is among the voters:

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Ohio State
  5. Georgia
  6. Texas A&M
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Iowa State
  9. North Carolina
  10. Cincinnati
  11. Florida
  12. Oregon
  13. LSU
  14. USC
  15. Wisconsin
  16. Miami
  17. Indiana
  18. Iowa
  19. Texas
  20. Penn State
  21. Washington
  22. Oklahoma State
  23. UL-Lafayette
  24. Coastal Carolina
  25. Ole Miss

College football futures odds: The top tier

Sportsbooks have the top five in a slightly different order, according to a PlayIA survey of college football futures markets. Ohio State and Georgia slide ahead of Oklahoma with shorter odds.

The futures market moneyline averages came from Iowa sportsbooks DraftKings, Caesars, FanDuel, BetMGM, Betfred, BetRivers, PointsBet and Bally Bet as of Aug. 10.

Here are the payouts for the national championship favorites, based on a $100 bet:

TeamFutures Market AverageLongest Odds PostedShortest Odds Posted
1. Alabama+235+260+200
2. Clemson+390+450+300
3. Ohio State+550+600+350
4. Georgia+550+750+400
5. Oklahoma+715+800+600

Sportsbooks adjust their national championship odds as needed throughout the summer, according to Avello:

“What you need to look at when you’re doing college futures is: Who do they have coming back and who did they recruit? Now, we all know that Alabama and Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma, they’re tremendous recruiters. A lot of players want to go there first.”

College football futures odds: Dark horses

Bettors have to look beyond college football’s “big five” to find bigger payouts. The following teams have from 20-to-1 to about 50-to-1 odds to win the national championship:

TeamFutures Market AverageLongest Odds PostedShortest Odds Posted
6. Iowa State+2760+3300+2000
7. Texas A&M+3450+4000+3000
8. Florida+3975+5000+2800
9. LSU+4100+5000+3000
10. North Carolina+4250+5500+4000
11. USC+4925+6600+3300
12. Oregon+5010+6600+4000
13. Wisconsin+5250+6000+5000
14. Miami (Florida)+5625+8000+4000
15. Texas+5640+8000+4500

Even back in the spring, Avello’s team at DraftKings liked the Iowa State Cyclones. They start the year at No. 8 in the preseason Coaches Poll, but the Cyclones odds are the sixth-best in our sportsbook survey:

“There are teams out there that can have really successful years. You can probably get some teams with some pretty good odds — and we keep everybody high. If they get by those initial five or so, everybody’s usually high. That’s where Iowa State stands this year. They’re actually in that second tier of teams.”

Last season, the Cyclones made an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game and came away with a 34-17 win over No. 25 Oregon in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.

Coaches, sportsbooks agree on Iowa’s chances

The Iowa Hawkeyes finished last season with a 6-2 record and the No. 16 spot in the final Associated Poll. They were scheduled to play Missouri in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30, but the Tigers pulled out of the game due to positive COVID-19 tests within the program. Both the voting coaches and sportsbook market analysts put the Hawkeyes just outside the top 15.

Teams like Iowa have Cinderella potential but face longer odds because a major contender or two in their conferences draw most of the futures attention. It pays to check multiple sportsbooks: A Cincinnati championship may give bettors $75 per dollar at one site or $200 per dollar at another, for example. Nineteen schools, including Iowa and Iowa State had odds of 100-to-1 or shorter at all eight sportsbooks.

TeamFutures Market AverageLongest Odds PostedShortest Odds Posted
16. Notre Dame+5875+8000+4000
17. Penn State+6640+8000+4000
18. Michigan+8875+10000+5000
19. Iowa+9690+10000+7500
20. Oklahoma State7 of 8 sportsbooks+25000+5000
21. Indiana7 of 8 sportsbooks+20000+8000
22. Arizona State7 of 8 sportsbooks +15000+6600
23. Washington6 of 8 sportsbooks+15000+6600
24. Auburn6 of 8 sportsbooks+15000+7500
25. Cincinnati5 of 8 sportsbooks+20000+7500

Hawkeyes have a chance to help their odds

No. 18 Iowa hosts No. 17 Indiana to start the season. BTN has the 2:30 p.m. game on Saturday, Sept. 4.

No. 8 Iowa State opens the season with FCS opponent Northern Iowa also at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4. If both Iowa and Iowa State win, look for a highly anticipated Cy-Hawk game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11 on ABC.

More college football odds

Wisconsin is favored to win the Big Ten West, but Iowa has second odds:


The Hawkeyes are a fourth choice to win the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 4 in Indianapolis.


The Big 12 doesn’t have divisions. The regular-season champion and second-place team meet again on Dec. 4 in Arlington, TX. Sportsbooks think an Iowa State-Oklahoma rematch is most likely.

Photo by Rick Scurteri / AP
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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