2020-21 College Football Playoff Odds: Early Lines for Semifinal Matchups

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2020

Alabama head coach Nick Saban celebrates victory against Florida after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Atlanta. Alabama won 52-46. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Top-ranked Alabama opened as a massive 19.5-point favorite over No. 4 seed Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl, one of the semifinal matchups in the 2020 College Football Playoff.

No. 2 Clemson is a more modest 7.5-point favorite against No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, according to DraftKings Sportsbook:

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College Football Playoff lines are here 🚨 Who you got? (odds via @DKSportsbook) https://t.co/PU7Pu3OU54

Both semifinal games will take place on New Year's Day.

Some years the College Football Playoff starts without a definitive favorite. This isn't one of those years.

Alabama is expected to beat the Fighting Irish by around three touchdowns, and it would likely be a sizable favorite over either Clemson or Ohio State in the title game too.

ESPN's Football Power Index estimates the Crimson Tide are about 6.4 points better than any other team in the country, with the Buckeyes in second place.

The Tide have two potential Heisman Trophy finalists in quarterback Mac Jones and wide receiver DeVonta Smith, and running back Najee Harris shone in Saturday's SEC Championship Game victory over Florida to show Bama can dominate on the ground as well.

Alabama might not be as overpowering defensively as it has been in previous years, which could lead to some high-scoring playoff games, but no team has come remotely close to slowing down its offense. The Crimson Tide have scored at least 38 points in all 11 games.

They had a tough schedule against only SEC opponents too.

In October, Bama beat Texas A&M—which narrowly missed the CFP—by 28 and Georgia by 17 when the Bulldogs were ranked third in the country. It beat 22nd-ranked Auburn by 29 in November and edged Florida, another CFP contender for most of the season, by six in the conference title game.

"This is the absolute best because I absolutely love this team," head coach Nick Saban said about where this year's SEC title ranked among the seven he's won at the school. "I love all the adversity that they had to overcome, and the resiliency that they went through to be able to do this. I appreciate it."

The Tide aren't a lock to win the championship. All three of the other playoff teams have high-end quarterbacks who can serve as the ultimate equalizer in a one-game scenario: Notre Dame's Ian Book, Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields.

Outscoring Saban's group will be an uphill battle, however, and the opening odds illustrate that.


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