Some Alabama football fans are willing to claim the Crimson Tide has already won a de-facto National Championship Game. It was also the SEC Championship Game. The reasoning by Alabama fans is the Crimson Tide has already beaten college football's second-best team - the Georgia Bulldogs.
Other than Crimson Tide fans, few in the college football world buy into that 'de-facto' premise.
Using odds provided by FanDuel, Michigan a +200 is the favorite to win the National Championship. The odds for the Alabama Crimson Tide are close behind at +220, making Alabama the second-favorite. The odds for the Texas Longhorns are third-best at +250. According to Oddsmakers, Washington gets the equivalent of a participation trophy with odds of +650.
Before continued discussion a reminder is needed. Betting odds are created to as closely as possible equalize the betting on each team. They are not the same as computer algorithms that project the spread in a game.
ESPN Analytics gives the Michigan Wolverines a 55.6% probability to win the Rose Bowl. Other computer algorithms give Michigan as much as a 70% probability of winning the game. According to Jeff Sagarin's algorithm, the probability is 58%.
Alabama Football Undervalued by Computers
The computers calculate the results of the entire season. As such, teams that underperformed early, as the Crimson Tide did, are undervalued, unless an algorithm is designed to weight late season games more than early season games. When a person makes a game prediction for an Alabama win, as some are doing, they are generally discounting the Tide's poor play against Texas and South Florida.
According to ESPN's computer the Texas Longhorns have a 69.2% probability of beating the Washington Huskies.
Going back to betting odds provided by FanDuel, both Michigan and Alabama are favored to beat either Texas or Washington in the National Championship Game. The spread for Alabama vs. Texas has the Tide at -2.5 points. The spread for Alabama vs. Washington has the Tide at -6.5 points.
If the betting odds accurately reflect win probability, then it can be argued Alabama vs. Michigan in the Rose Bowl is a de-facto National Championship Game.
Better yet, fans can ignore the odds and the computers and come to independent conclusions and predictions. Of course, none of us will be objective - but that too is acceptable. I'll save my prediction for closer to the Rose Bowl, but it will have the Crimson Tide winning, and not by a couple of points.
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