The College Football Playoff began in 2014 and is a four-team postseason tournament for NCAA FBS schools. A playoff committee selects four schools to compete in semifinals with the winners meeting in the title game. All three of the games are played on neutral fields and the venues are rotated on an annual basis.
Ohio State, the No. 4 seed, won the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship by defeating Alabama in the semifinals and Oregon in the title game.
The Buckeyes were listed as underdogs in both games, cashing money-line odds as high as 7/2 and 2/1 in the postseason affairs. The ‘over’ went 2-1 in the 2014 College Football Playoff.
Alabama bounced back in 2015 by knocking off Michigan State and Clemson to claim its fourth national championship in the last seven seasons. The Crimson Tide failed to cover in the National Championship against the Tigers in a 45-40 victory as 6.5-point favorites.
In 2016, it was Clemson blowing past Ohio State and edging Alabama in a thrilling victory in Tampa, claiming its first title since 1981, and just the second in school history.
The 2017 national semifinals were stark on contrast. Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma battled Georgia in the Rose Bowl, combining for 102 total points, most in the game's history. It was also the first overtime game in the Rose Bowl, as Georgia survived to move on. In New Orleans, Alabama used their suffocating defense to exact revenge on Clemson by a 24-6 score, setting up an all-SEC national title game.
Alabama rallied past Georgia in the title game in Atlanta, 26-23 in overtime as Nick Saban captured his fifth championship as head coach of the Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs picked up the cover as underdogs improved to 4-0 ATS in college football playoff championship games.
The 2018 national semifinals were a pair of blowouts, as Clemson hammered Notre Dame 30-3 and Alabama routed Oklahoma 45-34 in a game which wasn't as close as the score might indicate. Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray was no match for the runner-up, Tua Tagavailoa, who led his team back to the title game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Alabama and Clemson exchanged early haymakers in a high-scoring first quarter, with the Tigers leading 14-13 after the first 15 minutes thanks to a missed extra point. However, the Tigers defense showed up when it mattered most and the Tigers started to some separation. They came out in the second half and capped off a 30-3 run for their second national championship in three seasons, becoming the first team in college football history to go 15-0. The underdogs moved to 5-0 ATS in college football playoff championship games, as the Tigers didn't need the 5 1/2-point spread.