New Game, Same Story: Ohio State Enters CFP National Championship As Underdog

Posted By Derek Helling on January 7, 2021 - Last Updated on January 21, 2021

Online sportsbooks in Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia may not agree on much, but when it comes to the College Football Playoff odds, there is a consensus.

It just may not be the one that Ohio State Buckeyes fans want to hear.

To start out the week leading up to the national championship at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, No. 3 Ohio State sits as a 7.5-point underdog to the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide at all legal sportsbooks in three states that border Ohio.

There isn’t such a strong consensus on total points scored for the game, however. Additionally, the props vary from one market and one operator to the other.

A look at the latest College Football Playoff odds

Ohio State was undaunted by being the dog in the CFP semifinals against No. 2 Clemson. They’ll have to do the same Jan. 11. The two-score spread paints Alabama as the superior squad in the oddsmakers’ opinions.

The line on the total ranges from 74.5 points to 76 depending on which sportsbook you’re looking at and in which state. With a week to go before the game, now might be the time to take advantage of those variances.

The over has hit in four of Ohio State’s seven games this season. In the Crimson Tide’s 12 games, the total went over seven times.

Alabama has performed better against the spread this year, covering eight times. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are 4-3 against the spread. Ohio State’s semifinal against Clemson was the first time it served as the underdog this season.

With an average of 65.4 total points in Buckeyes games this season, the total sits a bit higher. Whether or not they will hit the over greatly depends on the health of quarterback Justin Fields.

Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle injury updates

Ohio State expects Fields to play against Bama, but there are questions about whether he will be 100%. Although he left the playoff game against the Tigers with a rumored rib cage injury, he finished the game.

It’s uncertain how proficient the Buckeyes will be offensively if Fields is limited. Additionally, Ohio State may eliminate some of its regular play selections to provide Fields extra protection.

Another headline that may affect the markets on this game is the potential return of Tide receiver Jaylen Waddle. The latest reports indicate that he has returned to practice and playing Monday is a possibility.

Waddle hasn’t played since Oct. 24, but Alabama still led the nation in passing efficiency without him in the lineup for that time. Before going down, he had caught 25 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns.

Fields’ and Waddle’s health could influence prop bets on the game as well. As a matter of fact, one sportsbook available in Indiana has a market on the former’s performance.

Prop bets for the College Football Playoff national championship

PointsBet, alive and well in the Hoosier State, offers wagering on the passing yardage for both quarterbacks. The line for Fields is 290.5, with -115 odds on both sides of the market.

BetMGM, available in all three aforementioned states, offers a solid variety of props. Those include whether or not either team will score in the final two minutes of the game and whether the first team to score will also win the game.

BetRivers (IN)/PlaySugarhouse (PA) along with DraftKings Sportsbook offer markets on which team will score first. Each operator lists Ohio State at +108 to do so.

FanDuel Sportsbook offers a market on whether Alabama will win by fewer or more than 14 points, with the same margin of victory options for the Buckeyes as well. William Hill, along with the other operators listed, features betting markets for the first quarter and first half.

Ohioans crossing the border into Indiana, Pennsylvania or West Virginia between now and Monday night have plenty of ways to bet this game. If Ohio State pulls off another upset, bettors who believed in them will enjoy a Buckeyes national title with some profit.

Photo by AP / John Bazemore
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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