New USC Trojans emerge as most popular bet to win college football playoff at Las Vegas sportsbook

Two perennial powerhouses in Alabama and Ohio State draw most of the betting action nationwide, but the story is a little different in a Las Vegas sportsbook, where more money has been bet on USC to win the college football playoffs than any other team.

“Team USA,” said Ed Salmons, former SuperBook bettor at Westgate Las Vegas, of the new Trojans. “They are our biggest loser in the futures book.”

USC’s national title odds fell from 40-1 to 25-1 in the SuperBook, giving the Trojans the sixth-best championship odds. USC went 4-8 last year, fired coach Clay Helton early in the season and lost six of its last seven games.

But the arrival of coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma and a slew of high-profile transfers, including quarterback Caleb Williams and 2021 Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Jordan Addison, have brought optimism to the USC.

USC drew more bets and more cash to win the national title than any other team on the Las Vegas site for the SuperBook, which also operates out of Colorado and New Jersey. The heightened interest reminded some of the Trojan dynasty of the early 2000s, when Vegas sports betting found itself rooted against USC on a weekly basis.

“If they go out and start a few teams early, the audience will be all over them every week,” Salmons said. “Sometimes when you put on all these guys from different teams, it just takes a while. But if they click from day one, absolutely, the audience will be on them.”

Salmons adjusted his power ratings on USC up 16 points from the end of last season, the biggest improvement of any team, but the gap between the Trojans and top contenders such as Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia remains significant.

Alabama is the consensus favorite to win the national championship, with odds of around +180. Close behind are Ohio State and defending champion Georgia at around 4-1 odds. No other team has single-digit odds.

At DraftKings, Alabama has attracted four times more national title bets than any other team. The biggest national championship bet reported to Caesars Sportsbook placed so far is $100,000 on Alabama at 2-1.

“This is the busiest Alabama team I’ve ever seen,” Salmons said, adding that he thinks the Crimson Tide could be favored by double digits in each of their regular-season games. “They could literally field two teams that could make the playoffs.”

Salmons said he would have Alabama as a 3-point favorite over Ohio State if the teams meet in Week 1. The college football season begins Aug. 27.