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UGA ends Bama, Clemson run as preseason fave

It has been eight years since oddsmakers have anointed a team other than Alabama or Clemson as the preseason favorite. That streak is over, as Georgia is firmly the consensus betting favorite to win the College Football Playoff at sportsbooks around the nation.

The Bulldogs, vying for a third consecutive national championship, enter the season with the fifth-shortest odds of any preseason title favorite in more than two decades, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. On Thursday, Georgia was +240 to win the College Football Playoff at Caesars Sportsbook. Alabama is next at +550, followed by Ohio State (+800) and Michigan (+850).

Alabama had been the preseason favorite or co-favorite with Clemson in seven of the past eight seasons.

Georgia’s short odds — and unproven starting quarterback Carson Beck — have not been as attractive to the betting public as a pair of 10-1 contenders in LSU and USC, though.

At Caesars, LSU had attracted more bets than any other team to win the national championship. At the SuperBook, USC had garnered the most bets and most money from bettors.

“USC has just been getting hammered,” said John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook, where the Trojans’ odds have improved from 16-1 to 10-1.

Michigan and Ohio State also have received significant support. At FanDuel, the Wolverines had attracted approximately twice as much money as had been wagered on the Buckeyes. Ohio State, on the other hand, had garnered the most money at DraftKings.

Georgia is the only team that is an odds-on favorite to make the College Football Playoff and remains the highest-rated team among oddsmakers. Ohio State, Michigan and Alabama have the next-best playoff odds at Caesars Sportsbook. Ed Salmons, a veteran Las Vegas oddsmaker with the SuperBook, told ESPN he would have Georgia favored by six over Michigan, his second-ranked team in his power rating.

Outside of the top tier of contenders, one long shot has emerged as a notable liability for some bookmakers. Colorado, with new coach Deion Sanders, poses the biggest liability to multiple sportsbooks in their national championship futures odds. The Buffaloes are 500-1.

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