- USC opened the championship market tied with Alabama at third in the table.
- USC football odds have significantly changed, from +700 to +1400.
- Caleb Williams returns for USC in 2023, but many other key contributors do not.
May isn’t exactly known for its wealth of college football news, as most fans know.
However, I’ve been paying close attention to the ever-evolving national championship odds market, and there’s one popular team near the top of the board that’s heading in the wrong direction.
USC Football Odds: Trojans Have Fallen Out of Favor
The Trojans opened the market at +700, firmly in the top camp of contenders. Only Georgia (+250) and Ohio State (+600) opened higher in the table. Alabama had the same NCAAF odds.
USC was an obvious public target for betting. The Trojans have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and one of the top offensive minds currently working in college football.
But the Trojans are also losing a lot from last year’s team, including Tuli Tuipulotu, Andrew Vorhees, and Jordan Addison. The former two were All-Americans; Addison was a powerful playmaker in the passing game. All three were drafted.
As the market wrung out this spring, USC was the biggest loser near the top of the draft board, dropping all the way to +1400. Perhaps sharp bettors came to their senses and realized that Riley — who has never won a playoff game — probably shouldn’t share odds with Nick Saban’s Alabama dynasty.
Now, USC is down at 14-to-1, which puts it below Michigan but still atop Clemson, LSU, Florida State, and Penn State.
As of May 8, about 3.7% of all championship tickets were on USC, but only about 2.8% of the handle. Generally speaking, that means public bettors in the college football odds market prefer USC over the professionals.
USC Football 2023: Comparisons to Alabama
Some comparisons to last year’s Alabama team may come naturally for handicappers this year.
USC enters a fresh season with a Heisman-winning quarterback still on the roster. That’s going to draw more than a few eyeballs in the futures market. Caleb Williams will be one of the top Heisman favorites throughout the opening weeks of the season, just as Bryce Young was last year.
The Trojans will also draw national championship bets and be a week-to-week public team in the six-pack markets.
But Alabama missed the College Football Playoff last year, ultimately failing to live up to the lofty expectations that were set by Bryce Young and a national championship game appearance during the previous season.
Neither Lincoln Riley nor USC has comparable recent experience, but the 2023 iteration of USC football could be the latest to deliver failed expectations after high-profile individual success from a previous season.
The college football futures market is practically built on such disappointments.
“USC is back” – @TheDentonDay
Will we see more Bronny James & USC basketball or Caleb Williams & USC Football on national TV in 2023?
— BetQL (@betqlapp) May 7, 2023
USC Championship Odds: Lincoln Riley, USC Can’t Crack the Playoff Win Ceiling
Lincoln Riley is an awesome coach. Full stop. No slander here. I watched his offenses shred my West Virginia squad every season for years. He’s brilliant.
But if there’s a real conversation to be had about USC in the college football national championship odds market, it seems like his history should be a data point.
Riley has been a head coach for six years. He’s made the playoffs three times and won zero games, most recently getting boat raced by Joe Burrow’s LSU team, 63-28.
A great many teams did get killed by Burrow and LSU in 2019, so I’m not holding that against Riley. But there’s always someone, right? Sooner or later, it’s a pattern of losing playoff games. Eventually, I’m inclined to bet against you until you prove me wrong.
It would be quite the jump to go from spectacular CFP flameout to national championship winner in the blink of an eye.
Over the last 15 years, teams like Michigan and Clemson have shown us that there is a slow, multi-year arc of program growth and development before achieving true contender status. The gap between a top-10 team and a top-four team that can win a CFP game is as gigantic as ever.
I would consider a ticket on USC to make the playoff, if the price was right. But USC to win it all? Even at 14-to-1, those odds just aren’t nearly lucrative enough.
How To Bet on College Football Futures
College football betting doesn’t stop when the games end in January. You can bet on futures throughout the offseason!
As teams are holding spring practice, adding players from the transfer portal, and releasing depth charts, you can view updated online sports betting odds for a variety of markets, including national championship odds, win totals, and conference champion odds.