How Does Buckeyes’ Underdog Status Bode for College Football Playoff?

How Does Buckeyes’ Underdog Status Bode for College Football Playoff?
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

All eyes will be on the Ohio State Buckeyes on New Year’s Eve this year, as coach Ryan Day’s team looks to shock the world against the defending champions in Atlanta.

But for sports betting in Ohio, that game will happen a few hours too early.

The Buckeyes will be the fourth seed in the 2022 College Football Playoff, marking the fifth time they’ve qualified for the event in the tournament’s ninth iteration.

Ohio State enters their Dec. 31 showdown (8 p.m. Eastern) against the Georgia Bulldogs as a +220 underdog, according to BetMGM Ohio Sportsbook, and the Buckeyes are listed at +350 to win it all.

CFP Underdogs Have Bucked Expectations Before

In the CFP’s existence, four teams that entered the event as a betting underdog have won the title, including the first CFP in 2014, when the Buckeyes won the national championship under Urban Meyer. looked at each team to win it all since the CFP’s inception in 2014 and how each fared, with odds from Here’s what we found for Day and company, entering the 2022 CFP semifinals in Atlanta:

Underdog Teams That Won CFP Title

Year, Team/th>Odds Path to Title
2014 Ohio State +600 Beat Alabama 42-35; beat Oregon 42-20
2016 Clemson +800 Beat Ohio State 31-0; beat Alabama 35-31
2018 Clemson +250 Beat Notre Dame 30-3; beat Alabama 44-16
2021 Georgia +135 Beat Michigan 34-11; beat Alabama 33-18

In 2021, Alabama went into the semifinals as the favorite with Georgia at +135. But after those teams won their respective semifinals, Georgia entered the title game as the -145 moneyline favorite against the Crimson Tide (+120).

No Budging on Ohio Sports Betting Deadline

The Buckeye State had planned for months to launch legal sports wagering, including mobile Ohio sports betting apps, on Jan. 1, 2023.

Lawmakers might not have planned on the ever-popular Buckeyes playing on Dec. 31, and the state missing a major opportunity to boost the handle (amount wagered) right out of the gate.

But Ohio is not budging because of the Buckeyes game and will keep Jan. 1 as the launch date for retail outlets and online operators to start accepting bets.

Jessica Franks, the Ohio Casino Control Commission’s Director of Communications, addressed the matter this week.

“While the Commission received inquiries regarding a change to the launch of sports gaming, in order to keep the start date universal for those looking to launch as required by law, sports gaming in Ohio will begin on Jan. 1, 2023,” Franks told

How the Buckeyes Look Entering CFP Semifinal

Ohio State was one of two non-conference champions (along with TCU) to make the four-team field in 2022, with the Horned Frogs getting in despite losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game.

Conversely, TCU is the only school of the four with longer championship odds than Ohio State. At DraftKings Ohio Sportsbook, which lists the Buckeyes at +360 to be national champions, the Horned Frogs have +1600 odds.

Ohio State hasn’t taken the field since getting shellacked at home by Michigan in the Big Game, 45-23, on Nov. 26, but enters the CFP with an 11-1 record.

The Buckeyes have gone 2-1 this year against teams that were ranked at the time, with wins over the then No. 5 Notre Dame, 21-10, to open the season. OSU also defeated Penn State in State College, 44-31, on Oct. 29.

OSU’s 2014 National Champions Overcame Odds

Ohio State’s last title team in 2014 also entered the CFP with a single loss, that coming against Virginia Tech in Week 2.

The Buckeyes of 2014 rattled off 13 straight victories, including wins over seventh-ranked Michigan State (49-37), 11th ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game (59-0), and No. 1 Alabama (42-35) and No. 3 Oregon (42-20) in the CFP itself.

Those Buckeyes fell to the 23rd spot in the AP Poll on Sept. 14 but rebounded to the No. 1 ranking in the final iteration of the poll, thanks to the outsized efforts of players such as J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, who combined to lead Ohio State to a title under center.

Jones stepped in for Barrett after an injury, throwing for 860 yards and seven scores, to guide the Buckeyes to their improbable title as the fourth seed in the CFP eight years ago.

Ohio State is one of two fourth seeds, along with Alabama in 2017, to win the CFP as the lowest seed in the event.

The other betting underdogs to capture the CFP title were second-seeded Clemson in 2016 and 2018 and No. 3 seeded Georgia last season.

Fast-forward a year, and Day’s team is looking to become the second straight betting underdog to hoist the CFP hardware at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on Jan. 9.

If the Buckeyes make it there, wagering on OSU will be legal by then, so be sure to check out for the top Ohio sportsbook promo codes before you place a wager on (or against) the scarlet and gray.



Christopher Boan writes for and has been covering sports and sports betting for more than seven years, with experience at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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