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2021 College Football Betting Guide: Best Bets by Conference

Dec 30, 2020; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) rolls out during the fourth quarter against the Florida Gators at ATT Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

We are exactly two months away from FBS football kicking off on a Saturday afternoon. And the release of PFF’s College Football Preview Magazine makes this the perfect time to highlight the best betting opportunities on FBS futures odds. 

Let’s dive into the best bets to make based on PFF’s vast college database that powers our NCAA Greenline product and our latest season-long simulation. We will walk through every conference, highlighting the teams with the most value based on market expectation. 

SEC | ACC | BIG TEN 
BIG 12 | PAC-12 | GROUP OF FIVE

SEC

Alabama and Georgia — the usual suspects leading the conference — are expected to finish atop the SEC, combining for 68% of the implied probability to win the conference title. Both blue-blood schools have over a 50% probability of winning their respective divisions. 

Five of the top 10 teams with the best odds to win the national championship play in the SEC, making it once again the deepest conference in college football. Whichever team emerges from the conference title game will be the odds-on favorite to receive the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. 

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

Win Total: 11.5 100 | -125
Conference Odds: 62.6%
Playoff Chances: 68.2%
Championship Odds: 30.8%

Best bet: Alabama to win the SEC West division -265

Rebuild or reload? That is always the question the year after a historic offense sets the college football world ablaze. Alabama always has the talent pipeline to replace key departures heading to the NFL draft, but a complete remake on the offensive side is a significant hurdle to overcome to repeat as national champions. 

The betting market seems undeterred, locking in Alabama as the most likely national champion in 2021. How likely the team is to live up to that status will be determined solely by its offense. Defensively, Alabama has a few holes to fill but is buoyed by the return of Josh Jobe and Malachi Moore in the secondary.  

Quarterback Bryce Young has 22 college pass attempts to his name, and while he'll have some weapons on the outside, it's nowhere near the historic class of wide receivers we saw the past two seasons in Tuscaloosa. There is also the added wrinkle of a new offensive coaching staff taking over, so expecting initial growing pains isn’t a far-fetched thought. 

PFF's simulation is much lower on Alabama’s chances than the current betting market, finding value only in their heavily juiced price to win the SEC West division. Alabama has had to move away from relying solely on its defense to win football games, so if the Crimson Tide regress back to that point in 2021, it will be impossible for them to live up to their current expectation. Lay the juice on Alabama to win their division and target better odds with the mindset that this could be a down year for head coach Nick Saban's squad.

GEORGIA BULLDOGS

Win Total: 10.5 -134 | 105
Conference Odds: 28.6%
Playoff Chances: 25.0%
Championship Odds: 12.5%

Best bet: Georgia under 10.5 wins +105

The story of the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs will come down to the play of quarterback J.T. Daniels, who has yet to live up to his five-star recruit status. Daniels has put together only two games with an 80.0-plus PFF passing grade in 16 college starts. Georgia isn’t exactly easing into their 2021 schedule, either, with a neutral site contest to start the season against Clemson. Georgia is currently a four-point underdog and doesn’t look to have many one-sided matchup wins on paper.

From a betting perspective, one of the easiest ways to play the Bulldogs is on their under win total, which provides zero wiggle room in the event they lose in Week 1. The betting market seems set on Daniels playing closer to his recruitment status than his true performance over the past three years. If he once again fails to deliver on that promise, then the Bulldogs should fall well short of their win total. PFF's simulation has them with a median win total of 9.5, which offers plenty of value given the +105 price on their under 10.5 betting line.

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