Hot Reads: Take Nebraska to Make the Playoff
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Hot Reads: Take Nebraska to Make the Playoff

July 25, 2018

If you want to bet on Nebraska to not make the College Football Playoff, it's going to cost you. That's because the Huskers' chances of making such a run in Scott Frost's first year probably aren't great. If you want to put a number on it, say there's a 1-percent chance of that happening.

At least that's what Bovada says via its updated make-the-Playoff odds. If you're hoping to pick up an easy $100 by betting that the Huskers won't make the playoff, you're going to have to put up $10,000 to get that $100. Those odds (1/100) are saying that if you were to play this 2018 season 100 times, Nebraska might make the Playoff once.

So if you want to bet on Nebraska to make the Playoff you could plunk down $100 and leave with $10,000 should it happen, right? Well, no, that would be  a terrible way to stay in business as a sports book. Picking the Huskers to make the Playoff is only offering a 25/1 payout at Bovada.

But both numbers, 25/1 and 1/100, are somewhat interesting in a larger context. Nebraska just makes the cutoff for even having "No" odds. Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma State are all given the same odds on both sides (+2500, -10,000) but their "No" odds are the largest in the country (i.e. those teams are very likely to not be in the Playoff). Below, the Tiger/Husker/Cowboy tier, you can't even bet on a team not to make the Playoff.

For example, you can bet on Iowa to make it (60/1) but not to miss it. Northwestern and Purdue are given 75/1 odds to be Playoff-bound and Minnesota is at 125/1. I've seen Nebraska picked to finish behind each of those teams in various places, though typically not all of them. That's the "pack" behind Wisconsin (4/1 odds to make it) in the West. So why does Nebraska have the second-best odds of making the Playoff according to Bovada?

I don't know. I didn't make the line, but it's important to remember with these type of proposition bets that what the book is really trying to do is anticipate the market (or react to it in terms of updated odds). The book's odds still have to be mostly accurate. Miss on a team with a real legitimate shot to make the Playoff, a Clemson for example, and the sports book could get hammered.

But that's somewhat less of a concern the farther down the list you go. For the teams unlikely to make the Playoff (and thus very likely to miss it), you're essentially trying to find what the market will bear. In Nebraska's case, like most things this offseason, the Huskers even having "No" odds is mostly a reflection of Scott Frost. He's a high-profile coach who almost (depending on your view) made the Playoff a year ago. That's going to draw some interest from casual bettors, and Bovada wants to be sure those that are betting it are betting on Nebraska to make the Playoff.

That's because it's a long shot, but a better long shot in my mind than Missouri (thought not Oklahoma State).

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