ESPN FPI Vs. 2023 College Football Futures Odds

Written By Brett Gibbons on April 29, 2023
College Football FPI

Each year, the release of ESPN’s college football Football Power Index (FPI) gives us content to talk about. Last year, a top-10 Auburn and Texas A&M team raised red flags immediately and the teams combined for nine wins and no bowl games. This year – while lacking that level of offenders – is no different. Let’s dissect what the initial 2023 FPI says and how it differs with college football futures odds.

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College Football Preseason FPI

Odds are reflective as of Apr. 26 at DraftKings Sportsbook.

RankTeamFPINational Title Odds
1Ohio State Buckeyes31.5+700
2Alabama Crimson Tide28.2+500
3Georgia Bulldogs27.4+230
4LSU Tigers22.1+1600
5Texas Longhorns21.9+2800
6Michigan Wolverines21.4+900
7USC Trojans19.9+1400
8Clemson Tigers19.4+2200
9Notre Dame Fighting Irish18.4+2500
10Penn State Nittany Lions17.5+2500
11Oklahoma Sooners16.9+5000
12Tennessee Volunteers15.2+2500
13Oregon Ducks15.0+3500
14Florida State Seminoles15.0+1800
15Utah Utes14.9+6000
16Ole Miss Rebels13.4+10000
17TCU Horned Frogs13.0+10000
18Florida Gators12.7+15000
19Texas A&M Aggies12.7+5000
20Wisconsin Badgers12.3+6000
21Washington Huskies11.8+4000
22Texas Tech Red Raiders10.8+20000
23Baylor Bears10.7+15000
24Oregon State Beavers10.5+10000
25North Carolina TarHeels10.2+10000

Power Ratings Vs. Futures

First, a quick note on power ratings vs. power rankings. Power rankings suggest whether or not Team A would be favored over Team B on a neutral field. Power ratings consider by how much Team A would be favored over Team B on that neutral field. Taking ESPN’s FPI 1-25 and saying those are the teams they believe finish 1-25 would be inaccurate.

Secondly, sportsbooks price teams’ futures odds on a number of factors. Power rating surely comes into play, but so do conference difficulty, strength of schedule, and difficulty of route to the College Football Playoff. For example, Penn State might be 10th in FPI but still post 25-1 odds to win the National Championship. Their odds will always be longer due to their necessary CFP path going through both Ohio State and Michigan.

Conversely, teams from the SEC like LSU will post shorter odds since the SEC has a history of multiple teams making the CFP.

Teams Sportsbooks Undervalue, Per FPI

  • Texas (5th in FPI, 12th in National Championship odds)
  • Oklahoma (11th in FPI, t-15th in odds)
  • Ole Miss (16th in FPI, t-20th in odds)
  • Florida (18th in FPI, t-29th in odds)

Texas Longhorns

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but FPI sees Texas as an undervalued team in college football futures. A tradition that ages like fine wine, we’ll see some of the usual suspects in this article, even if they learned their lesson with Texas A&M and Auburn.

Whether or not the Longhorns execute on the field, they consistently roster some of the most talent in the country. This year is no different. An already loaded receiver room added Georgia stud AD Mitchell, who was immediately impactful in Texas’ Orange and White spring exhibition. They have one of the top quarterback rooms in the country with two No. 1 recruits, Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning. Expect Texas to be favored in nearly every game on their early schedule besides Alabama.

Oklahoma Sooners

It’s expected that Oklahoma takes a step forward after an abysmal Year 1 under Brent Venables. The Sooners regularly ranked high above their on-field performance last year, never dropping from the FPI top 25 en route to a 6-7 finish. The FPI has valued recruiting classes heavily for years; we see it with frequent overestimations on Texas A&M, Auburn, Miami, and Texas, all of which recruit incredibly well annually.

Perhaps last year was due to growing pains and a result of having the Lincoln Riley rug pulled out from under their feet, but Oklahoma didn’t improve their roster all that much this offseason. Regardless, the FPI buys into Oklahoma stepping back into being a fringe top-10 talent this season.

Ole Miss Rebels

The old adage goes, “if you have two quarterbacks, you have none. It’s a lesson in trusting in a single starter and allowing that starter to develop and grow with the team. Ole Miss, as it stands today, has three quarterbacks: incumbent Jaxson Dart and transfers Spencer Sanders and Will Howard. QB was the position that held Ole Miss back the most last season, highlighted in a horrific Texas Bowl showing from Dart.

However, Oxford is a hotspot for both recruits and transfers – improved tenfold by Lane Kiffin. Roster-wise, the Rebels will be fine and likely favored over much of their schedule. However, their college football futures odds fall into longshot territory (100-1) due in part to playing at both Alabama and Georgia.

Florida Gators

Florida’s power rating may be the one that translates into the least number of wins among teams in this category. Per On3’s transfer rankings, the Gators were about a net zero in the portal, losing among the most number of players in the country. They also missed out on high-profile transfers and recruits, most notably QB Jadan Rashada. Instead, Florida is stuck in quarterback hell with Graham Mertz the current starter.

Even head coach Billy Napier admitted Florida is openly shopping for another QB. In the college ranks, without a QB, you’re canoeing upstream without a paddle. Expect Florida to be heavily overvalued by FPI early in the year.

Teams Sportsbooks Overvalue, Per FPI

  • Florida State (14th in FPI, 7th in National Championship odds)
  • North Carolina (25th in FPI, t-20th in odds)
  • Auburn (39th in FPI, t-20th in odds)
  • South Carolina (42nd in FPI, t-20th in odds)

In this instance, we’re dealing with a chicken-or-the-egg situation. Are sportsbooks overvaluing these teams? Or is the FPI undervaluing them? Let’s take a look.

Florida State Seminoles

Nobody in the country returns more roster production this year than Florida State (87%). Headlining returners include QB Jordan Travis, WR Johnny Wilson, and pass rusher Jared Verse; they also return virtually the entire coaching staff, just one of 27 teams to do so. Inbound is 247Sports’ fifth-ranked transfer class chock-full of defensive starters.

The ‘Noles are slightly favored in the ACC and Bill Connelly’s SP+ ranks them 11th. In terms of returning talent, FSU might top the list nationally and their National Championship price (18-1) reflects that that. Perhaps FPI undervalues Florida State slightly, although the trepidation around hammering futures and win totals is understandable given recent underperformance.

North Carolina TarHeels

UNC has a Heisman frontrunner at QB, Drake Maye, and not a whole lot else. In this instance, it appears sportsbooks overvalue the TarHeels over power rating systems, which are all bearish on them. SP+ ranks UNC 29th, even lower than FPI (25th). UNC finished last season a dismal 109th in defensive points per drive allowed and have to replace 53% of that production, including both starting corners.

The bearish outlook on Mack Brown’s squad – particularly on defense – mirrors that of 2021 North Carolina under Sam Howell. Turns out, the power ratings were more correct as the preseason No. 10 team finished 6-7. Chances are, their futures odds are predicated on the ACC being a weaker conference, thus creating an easier path to a CFP berth.

Auburn Tigers

In the words of Michael Scott, “Well, well, well. How the turntables.”

After being a downright embarrassment for the FPI last year (ranked 10th preseason), it appears adjustments were made for Auburn in 2023. DraftKings Sportsbook pins the Tigers’ odds of winning the National Championship at a longshot 100-1, but that’s in line with Ole Miss (FPI 16th), TCU (FPI 17th), and Wisconsin (FPI 20th). FPI rates Auburn a full 6.5 points weaker than Ole Miss.

South Carolina Gamecocks

We’ll keep this one short – South Carolina is priced the way they are in futures markets because they have the No. 1 toughest strength of schedule, per SP+. Their route to a Playoff berth is incredibly difficult and that’s reflected in their futures odds. Don’t expect South Carolina to be undervalued in weekly odds early in the season.

Conference Winners And College Football Preseason FPI

Conference favorites odds are pulled from Caesars Sportsbook. FPI rank in conference listed next to odds.

  • ACC: Florida State (+135), second
  • Big 12: Texas (+200), first
  • Big Ten: Ohio State (+190), first & Michigan (+190), second
  • Pac-12: USC (+190), first
  • SEC: Georgia (-115), second

For the most part, FPI and college football conference futures odds align. FSU is a very slim favorite over Clemson (+145) in the ACC and the FPI favors Clemson by 3.6 points on a neutral field. Ohio State and Michigan are a tossup in Big Ten odds, but the FPI favors the Buckeyes by a whopping 10.1 points on a neutral field. This is incongruent with the way game openers are priced, with Michigan being a slim -1 favorite over Ohio State in Ann Arbor.

The biggest discrepancy comes in the SEC. FPI favors Alabama by 0.8 points, but Georgia is the odds-on favorite to win the conference (-115, 53.5% implied win rate). The Bulldogs have a huge edge in strength of schedule, per SP+ (44th for Georgia vs. seventh for Alabama), which could point to why they are so heavily favored. Either way, it’d be tough to imagine oddsmakers favoring Alabama on a neutral field in a game played tomorrow.

College Football National Championship Odds

The back-to-back champion Georgia Bulldogs () are currently favored to three-peat, followed by the Alabama Crimson Tide (). Next are a trio teams with Big Ten membership: Ohio State (), Michigan (), and USC ().

Click on odds anywhere in the table below to bet on the 2024 National Championship:

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Written by
Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

View all posts by Brett Gibbons