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College Football Playoff odds: TCU makes move; Georgia still big favorite

The Horned Frogs are finally getting some betting respect, but the national championship still runs through Georgia

The TCU Horned Frogs, who are one of four remaining unbeaten teams in college football, enter their Week 12 game at Baylor with the fifth-best odds to reach the College Football Playoff and fifth-best odds to win the national title.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
The TCU Horned Frogs, who are one of four remaining unbeaten teams in college football, enter their Week 12 game at Baylor with the fifth-best odds to reach the College Football Playoff and fifth-best odds to win the national title. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)Read moreTim Warner / Getty Images

A week ago, those responsible for setting the College Football Playoff odds sent a not-so-subtle message to the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs: We don’t believe you’re for real.

So on Saturday, the Horned Frogs traveled across state from Fort Worth, Texas, to Austin and volleyed back a not-so-subtle retort: You better take us seriously now.

The response from oddsmakers? Message received.

Following its 17-10 upset victory over Texas, TCU shot up the College Football Playoff odds board. The Horned Frogs are now sitting fifth both in odds to reach the four-team tournament and to win the national title, while at the same time holding onto the all-important No. 4 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings.

The Horned Frogs made the biggest leap in the college football national championship odds market this week, but they weren’t the only team on the move. While the top three contenders remain the same, there was a NASCAR-like repositioning among the rest of the pack.

With two weeks to go in the regular season, here’s an updated look at both the national championship and College Football Playoff odds pictures.

Note: Odds updated as of 1:15 p.m. ET on Nov. 16.

College Football national championship odds

As was the case last week, Georgia (10-0) remains the odds-on favorite to repeat as national champions. In fact, without even playing a game, the Bulldogs saw their odds shrink from -120 to -125 at FanDuel.

Meanwhile, Ohio State and Michigan — both of which moved to 10-0 following convincing home victories in Week 11 — are holding onto the second and third spots, respectively, in the College Football Playoff rankings. Same goes for the national championship odds market (Buckeyes are +250 at FanDuel; Wolverines are +700).

Barring an impossible-to-envision collapse, Georgia — which closes the regular season with road games against Mississippi State and Kentucky and a home contest against Georgia Tech —will earn a second straight CFP berth. Even if the Bulldogs lose to LSU in the SEC championship game, they’re a lock to join the party.

The situation for Ohio State and Michigan is nearly as clear: Unless the Buckeyes (27.5-point favorite at Maryland) or Wolverines (17.5-point favorite vs. Illinois) get upset on Saturday, the winner of the next week’s Michigan-Ohio State showdown is going to the playoff — no matter what happens in the Big Ten title game

» READ MORE: College Football Playoff odds: Georgia, Ohio State lead the way

Even the Michigan-Ohio State loser would could earn a playoff berth, particularly if there’s no more than one additional one-loss team. As of right now, after unbeaten Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU, there are four teams sitting with one loss: Tennessee, USC, Clemson and North Carolina are all 9-1.

For the second straight week, Tennessee is positioned fifth in the CFP rankings and is the fourth choice to win the national championship (+1400 at FanDuel). And even though the Vols won’t be playing in the SEC title game, as you’ll see below, oddsmakers have little doubt they will reach the playoff.

That said, those same oddsmakers now view TCU as a legitimate threat. A week ago, the Horned Frogs were fourth in the CFP poll (same as this week). However, they were tied for eighth in national championship odds (+8000) and tied for ninth in odds to make the playoff (+650).

But after taking out Texas as a 7.5-poing road underdog last week, TCU has moved to the fifth choice in both markets. The Frogs have fallen to +3000 to win it all and +220 to make the playoff.

College Football Playoff odds

Ohio State
North Carolina

Two weeks remain in the regular season, followed by conference championship weekend. But if you believe the opinion of bookmakers, three-fourths of the CFP picture is complete.

Georgia (-20000 at FanDuel) is a lock, and Ohio State (-700) is close to a sure thing (even if it loses to Michigan).

Meanwhile, if Tennessee wins out at South Carolina (Saturday) and Vanderbilt (next week), it projects to be the highest-ranked one-loss team by the time the CFP selection committee sets the four-team field — assuming Ohio State doesn’t lose to Michigan.

That’s why the Vols sit third on the College Football Playoff odds board at -500.

From there, the betting market suggests six teams have a legitimate chance to play for a national championship.

TCU doesn’t need a map to find its way to the CFP: If the Horned Frogs win at Baylor on Saturday, beat Iowa State next week and win the Big 12 championship game, they’re crashing the party.

» READ MORE: Heisman Trophy odds: Ohio State’s Stroud leads the pack

Of course, oddsmakers clearly still have doubts about TCU, as they made the Horned Frogs just a 2.5-point favorite at 6-4 Baylor.

If TCU or Tennessee stumble, the door would open for No. 7 USC (+350) and No. 8 Clemson (+400). The Trojans and Tigers are actually below No. 6 LSU (7-2) in the CFP rankings. However, they’re ahead of LSU (+500) when it comes to odds to make the playoff.

USC closes the regular season with two tough games at No. 16 UCLA and at home against No. 8 Notre Dame. Win those, and the Trojans would have to win the Pac-12 championship game (likely against the winner of Saturday’s Utah-Oregon clash) to make the CFP for the first time.

Clemson’s road to an 11-1 regular season finish is easier, as it closes with home games against Miami, Fla. (5-5) and South Carolina (6-4). After that, the Tigers face North Carolina in the ACC title game.

What about LSU, which is looking to become the first two-loss team to make the playoff in the event’s eight-year history? Despite their lofty CFP ranking, the Tigers remain a long shot.

Even if LSU beats UAB (home) and Texas A&M (road) the next two weeks, it will need to stun No. 1 Georgia in the SEC championship game. Oddsmakers doubt that will happen, as the Bulldogs are a 16.5-point favorite at FanDuel.

About those Tar Heels …

Last week, TCU was the team that the CFP selection committee and oddsmakers viewed much differently. This week? It’s North Carolina.

The Tar Heels are No. 13 in this week’s rankings, behind five two-loss teams — No. 6 LSU, No. 8 Alabama, No. 10 Utah, No. 11 Penn State and No. 12 Oregon.

However, FanDuel has UNC as the ninth choice to make playoff at +700 (the last team with odds shorter than +6000 at FanDuel). The Heels hold the same spot in the national championship market, at +10000.

For UNC to sneak in the backdoor, it will need to beat Georgia Tech and North Carolina State at home, knock off favored Clemson in the ACC title game, and hope the Michigan-Ohio State loser gets blown out and need TCU, Tennessee and/or USC to stumble at least once.

Impossible? No. Improbable? Yes.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

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