When Alabama lost to LSU a few weeks ago, it felt like we would have a rare season where Alabama didn't figure into the equation for the College Football Playoff. Alabama has made the CFP in seven of eight seasons since its inception. However, a two-loss team had never made the playoffs under the current system, and the fact that Alabama had no chance to win a conference championship made the idea of them being the first even more improbable.
However, with the regular season in the books, we sit here ahead of conference championship weekend and the idea of Alabama sneaking into the playoffs no longer sounds completely insane. In fact, one bettor thinks the dream is alive and well.
Big bet placed on Alabama
Once it was established that Alabama wouldn't play in the SEC championship game, oddsmakers took the odds for Alabama to win the national championship off the board. It seemed like they had no realistic path to get there so oddsmakers didn't bother.
However, after a series of results over the last two weeks muddied the waters, BetMGM put Alabama back on the board on Sunday. Alabama was 25-to-1 to win the national championship. Immediately, one bettor in New Jersey took a shot.
The bettor put down $5,000 on Alabama to win it all. If Alabama gets it done, the bet will pay out $125,000. Obviously, the odds suggest that Alabama is a long shot to get in. However, if they do get in, they have the potential to be dangerous. They have arguably the best coach in college football history and the defending Heisman winner at quarterback.
How does Alabama get in?
As we sit here on Monday, the playoff picture looks rather straightforward. Georgia will get in, probably even if it loses in the SEC championship game to LSU. However, that's not a concern most have as Georgia is a 17-point favorite. After its big win over Ohio State, Michigan is in a similar spot. The Wolverines are 16.5-point favorites against Purdue in the Big Ten championship game.
TCU is where you can begin to question things. The Horned Frogs are just 2.5-point favorites over Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game. Does TCU still get in if they lose the game? Most people think they should, but conferences like the Big 12 will always have their suspicions.
USC is in an even more precarious spot than TCU. The Trojans are 3-point favorites over Utah in the Pac 12 championship game. They need to win the game to get in. Of course, Utah is responsible for USC's lone loss to this point.
If Georgia, Michigan, TCU and USC all win their conference championship games, there's no hope for Alabama. If one or two of them lose, especially TCU or USC, the door suddenly opens.
It'll be interesting to see whether Ohio State or Alabama is ranked higher by the committee on Tuesday. Ohio State has just one loss, but it was a blowout loss at home. Alabama has two losses, but both came in the final seconds on the road. If Alabama is ranked fifth on Tuesday and USC loses to Utah, suddenly, Alabama could get in. Even if Alabama is ranked sixth, and both USC and TCU lose, there will be a real conversation.
A lot has gone right for Alabama in recent weeks. Clemson picked up a second loss and so did Tennessee. The Tide need a few more things to go right this week. A lot of power rankings and models have them as the second- or third-best team in the country.
We're talking about a 25-to-1 long shot here, so obviously, the chances aren't great. It remains to be seen whether this $5,000 bet on Alabama was a stroke of genius or a complete waste of money. We'll find out within a week.
Current national championship odds
Here are the current odds at BetMGM as to which team will win the College Football Playoff national championship:
Ohio State (13-to-1)