With the 2022 college football season heading into Week Zero, it’s time to take a last look at the best odds available for conference championships.
People are usually drawn to the favorites in each conference, and maybe to their favorite teams, and understandably so. However, these favorites then tend to become overvalued and over-betted, and their chances of winning the conference overestimated by the general public.
For example, almost everyone believes Ohio State will win the Big Ten, and Alabama and Georgia will face each other in an SEC Championship Game rematch. There is little value in picking any of these teams.
As a result, the longer odds tend to offer better risk-reward situations and expected overall returns on investment (ROI). While you will win fewer of these wagers, the payouts tend to be relatively high, meaning you only need to hit on a smaller percentage to end the season in the black.
The best conference picks listed here, based on the College Football Atlas, lean heavily on this philosophy of selecting teams based on optimal ROI and avoiding overvalued favorites. (Some top contenders with favorable odds, like Cincinnati and Michigan, are still included here.)
Value is found in appropriately quantifying uncertainty, which the Atlas preseason magazine strives to do by simulating the season and all its sources of error 100,000 times. Ohio State is not a lock to win the Big Ten, and there is only about a 50-50 chance that Alabama and Georgia meet in that rematch most assume is inevitable.
Remember, college football season is always much more unpredictable than we think it’s going to be.
All odds are drawn from the ESPN Daily Lines page:
ACC: Pittsburgh +800, Florida State +2200, Louisville +2200, Virginia +4000, Syracuse +25000
American: Cincinnati +240, SMU +1000, South Florida +5000
Big Ten: Michigan +750, Nebraska +1600, Purdue +2500, Maryland +12500
Big XII: TCU +1200, West Virginia +3500, Kansas +30000
C-USA: North Texas +1400, Charlotte +2500, Rice +10000, FIU +20000
MAC: Toledo +300, Bowling Green +3500
MWC: Air Force +450
Pac-12: Arizona State +3500, Oregon State +3500, Washington State +4000, Stanford +6000, Arizona +25000, Colorado +30000
SEC: Tennessee +4000, Mississippi State +10000, Auburn +12500, Missouri +30000
Sun Belt: Coastal Carolina +550, Georgia State +1200, Southern Miss +3000, Old Dominion +6000, Georgia Southern +8000, ULM +30000