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Handicapping the odds for winning the CFB national title

With just a few weeks left in the regular season and the race for the College Football Playoff heating up, CFB 24/7 decided to take a look at which teams have the inside track to winning the national title.

How does one handicap the odds for each team in contention? One has to consider everything from coaching to remaining schedules to talent on hand. Throw in the unknown of having weeks to prepare and who they might match up against, and there's plenty of factors that go into handicapping the race to the first-ever national title that is settled on the field with a playoff.

Here's a look at all the teams vying for a spot in the final four and what their odds are to win the whole thing and hold up that trophy at AT&T Stadium on January 12th.


Estimated odds to win the title: 35 percent
Current College Football Playoff ranking: No. 1
Remaining schedule: vs. Western Carolina, vs. Auburn, SEC championship game
The skinny: The Crimson Tide are the odds-on favorite to win the title by just about everybody, and that includes CFB 24/7. Alabama might be a bit lower than you'll find elsewhere, however, for two reasons: remaining schedule and issues on the road. Having to play Auburn in a rivalry game in which emotions will run high is not something to underestimate, and Georgia/Missouri both present some matchup issues for the league title game in Atlanta. Still, the Tide are relatively healthy, have the most talent on their depth chart and play for a coaching staff that understands how to win big games. Nick Saban's familiarity with Jimbo Fisher and Jameis Winston in a potential matchup with Florida State helps, too.

Florida State

Estimated odds to win the title: 30 percent
Current College Football Playoff ranking: No. 3
Remaining schedule: vs. Boston College, vs. Florida, ACC championship game
The skinny: The defending national champions haven't lost in two years, but it's become apparent they are much more vulnerable than in 2013, when they dominated the competition on their way to the title. Their three remaining games will provide a test in unique ways, but most expect the Seminoles running into the final four undefeated. Don't discount the weeks off between the ACC title game and the first semifinal because this team more than most needs to get healthy and figure out a few things on both sides of the ball. Others might see a team ready to get knocked off, but the presence of Jameis Winston and some playmakers in the secondary give FSU a good shot at repeating.


Estimated odds to win the title: 15 percent
Current College Football Playoff ranking: No. 2
Remaining schedule: vs. Colorado, at Oregon State, Pac-12 championship game
The skinny: The Ducks' biggest obstacle to making it to the College Football Playoff is likely whatever team emerges from the South Division, but it's nothing they can't handle despite beating just one of the contenders (UCLA, while losing to Arizona and not playing either Arizona State or USC). They have the best player in the country -- Marcus Mariota -- and are starting to get healthier along the offensive line. They are in position to get a semifinal at the Rose Bowl, which should be a positive, but they don't match up against Alabama or Florida State as well as some think.

Ohio State

Estimated odds to win the title: 8 percent
Current College Football Playoff ranking: No. 6
Remaining schedule: vs. Indiana, vs. Michigan, Big Ten championship game
The skinny: The biggest obstacle to the Buckeyes' title chances might be just getting into the College Football Playoff. They are in a good position, however, as they will likely end up as a conference champion and are playing better than anybody else in the country. They can leapfrog the Big 12 teams and the second-place SEC squad as a result and present a nice option for the committee looking to avoid controversy with the teams behind them. They have a quarterback that is distributing the ball to his playmakers well, an offensive line that is gelling and a defense that has a strong pass rush. Add in Urban Meyer's good track record of preparing for big games, and the Buckeyes have an outside shot at winning it all this year.


Estimated odds to win the title: 5 percent
Current College Football Playoff ranking: No. 5
Remaining schedule: at Texas, vs. Iowa State
The skinny: Their recent struggles against Kansas aside, the Horned Frogs are a threat to make it into the final four and make some noise. They have by far the easiest path to the postseason with a tricky trip to Texas on Thanksgiving night the only possible thing that can trip them up. They have a Heisman candidate in quarterback Trevone Boykin and an experienced defense that has playmakers along the defensive line and in the secondary. They score points, run the ball, play defense and have one of the best head coaches in the country when it comes to scheming against opponents with better talent. Their balance would give them a good chance against anybody and is why they have a chance to win the title.


Estimated odds to win the title: 4 percent
Current College Football Playoff ranking: No. 7
Remaining schedule: vs. Oklahoma State, vs. Texas Tech, vs. Kansas State
The skinny: The Bears have the tougher test than their conference rivals to end the season 11-1, but it's a weak non-conference slate that holds them back even more. They do have a high-powered offense and underrated defense that creates turnovers, which could make life difficult for an Alabama, Oregon or Florida State in a semifinal if it came to that. The biggest problem is just getting into a semifinal, however, and that's to say nothing of getting past a very solid Kansas State team to end the year.

Ole Miss

Estimated odds to win the title: 1.5 percent
Current College Football Playoff ranking: No. 8
Remaining schedule: at Arkansas, vs. Mississippi State, SEC championship game (if necessary)
The skinny: Like their Magnolia State brethren, the Rebels need help to sneak into the final four spots but would be able to piece together a better resume with wins over Alabama and Mississippi State to go with victories over the possible Mountain West and Sun Belt champions. They have a stingy defense that gives them a chance in every game, but the absence of star receiver Laquon Treadwell really hampers their offense and could be one reason why they wind up out of the title picture.

Mississippi State

Estimated odds to win the title: 1 percent
Current College Football Playoff ranking: No. 4
Remaining schedule: vs. Vanderbilt, at Ole Miss, SEC championship game (if necessary)
The skinny: The top team in college football for most of the year, the Bulldogs will still need some help if they are to remain at No. 4 in the committee's rankings. The biggest issue for MSU? The weak schedule (both non-conference and their SEC crossover games) will do them no favors, and the fact that the Bulldogs wouldn't even be division champions might not sit well considering the committee must consider conference championships won at the end of the year. Still, they're built to pull some upsets in the final four, but right now their odds are low because they will have a hard time even making it into the tournament.


Estimated odds to win the title: 0.5 percent
Current College Football Playoff ranking: No. 9
Remaining schedule: vs. USC, vs. Stanford, Pac-12 championship game (if necessary)
The skinny: So you're saying there's a chance? Yes, there could be for the Bruins. They might wind up with wins over nine bowl teams and could emerge victorious in college football's toughest division (sorry SEC West, the committee says it's the Pac-12 South). They'll need plenty of help to ascend to No. 4 but we've seen chaos happen in November before. Add in a veteran, play-making quarterback in Brett Hundley and a number of quality pieces on defense, and Jim Mora's team might be able to sneak in and make some noise.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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