Look at the recent history of college football and you’ll see the same handful of teams – Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Clemson – playing for the national championship since the four-team playoff was instituted in 2014.
The 2022-23 season is no different:
As four of those conventional picks stand firm in the top four of the college football playoffs odds once again:
College Football Playoffs Odds:
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Tide Looking for Saban’s Eighth National Title
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is the historical GOAT of college football coaches with six national titles at Alabama and one at LSU back in 2003. Now, he could win an unprecedented eighth national championship in January 2023.
Quarterback Bryce Young will once again lead the Crimson Tide as he enters the season with the second-best Heisman Trophy odds (+400) behind Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud (+220). These two teams rest atop the college football playoff odds as well with Alabama (+175) as the highest rated team with the Buckeyes (+300) not far behind. Alabama also features potentially the best defensive player in college football in linebacker Will Anderson, Jr., (+1600 Heisman Trophy odds) and running back Jahmyr Gibbs (+2500).
Currently, oddsmakers have the Tide (-145) edging Georgia (+165) to win the SEC championship. Young’s offense will feature a pair of transfers at wide receiver in former Louisville Cardinal Tyler Harrell and ex-Georgia Bulldog Jermaine Burton.
The Crimson Tide’s defense should be able to dominate the challengers on opposing offensive lines as Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell will join Anderson at linebacker. The Crimson Tide should challenge for a 12-0 record as the most challenging part of the schedule is the first two weeks of November when they play road games at LSU and Ole Miss.
Alabama leads college football playoff odds with an over/under of 10.5 wins. The OVER is at (-330) and UNDER at (+235). Look for the Crimson Tide to defeat Utah in one FBS semifinal as the Utes will win the Pac-12 and manage their first FCS Semifinals appearance.
Buckeyes, Stroud Among Favorites
Ohio State was eliminated from a potential spot in the FCS semifinals last season in their 42-27 loss at Michigan on the final day of the regular season. The Buckeyes’ college football playoff odds (-250) suggest this team is an overwhelming favorite to knock out the Wolverines (+750) and win the Big Ten championship.
Quarterback C.J. Stroud (+220) is favored over Alabama’s Bryce Young (+400) to win the Heisman Trophy by most college football betting sites. Stroud put together a phenomenal 2021-22 campaign. throwing for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns with only six interceptions in his first season as the starter in Columbus. He has Heisman Trophy candidates at wide receiver in Jaxon Smith-Njigba (+2500) and running back TreVeyon Henderson (+2200). The balance of this offense will make the Buckeyes a difficult team to stop on a week-in, week-out basis.
Ohio State’s 45.7 points per game led the Big Ten a year ago. Defensively, the Buckeyes brought in Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who will try to restore the aggression that this unit has had. The Buckeyes were 59th in total defense in giving up 374 yards per game as this was a byproduct of being rated 97th vs. the pass.
Ohio State allowed a healthy 246 yards per game through the air. The activity of the front-seven should cause the overmatched Big Ten offenses to struggle with linebackers Tommy Eichenberg and Cody Simon. Safety Ronnie Hickman led Ohio State in tackles with 100 and should be the major threat in the secondary. Like Alabama, Ohio State is sitting with an over/under of 10.5 wins, per the sportsbooks. The Buckeyes have (-300) odds to go OVER and (+220) to stay UNDER the win total.
Stroud is more talented than Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett and Ohio State’s offense will outplay Georgia. This will allow the Buckeyes to meet the Crimson Tide for the national championship.
Bennett’s Leadership Could Propel Bulldogs to a Repeat
Bennett took his game to a higher level when he completed 80 of 124 passes in his last four games of 2021-22. Thus, the Bulldogs win their first national championship in 41 years when they took a 33-18 win over Alabama.
Now, Bennett will look at leading an offense that was good enough to win it all last year. However, his college football playoffs odds to win the Heisman are still a long shot at (+8000). Part of that will come through the potential of running back Kenny McIntosh as well as wide receivers in Adonai Mitchell and Ladd McConkey. Star tight end Brock Bowers is back, too. Defensively, this team led the nation by allowing only 9.9 points per game and giving up roughly 270 yards per outing. The Bulldogs lost six key starters and defensive coordinator Dan Lanning became the head coach at Oregon in the off-season, so change is in order ahead of the new season. Defensive tackle Jalen Carter will lead a front-7 that could have as much prowess as last season’s front.
Georgia’s opener with the Ducks in the Georgia Dome could be its toughest matchup as Auburn and Tennessee come to Athens and the matchup with Florida is in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs share the 10.5-win over/under with Alabama and Ohio State. The (-260) is given in college football playoffs odds as the OVER and the UNDER is at (+190).
Utes Emerge as Sleeper in College Football Playoffs
Last season, the Cincinnati Bearcats came into the CFP and fought Alabama before a 27-6 loss. Cincinnati wasn’t expected to be anywhere near the title game, but the squad’s toughness has helped create a tough program in Cincinnati. The same adjectives could be used to describe Utah as Kyle Whittingham enters his 18th season as the Utes’ head coach.
Utah looks for its fourth Pac-12 South title in the last five seasons and will start the endeavor with a solid quarterback in Cameron Rising. He compiled 62.5 percent of his passes with 20 touchdown tosses and only five interceptions and he had Utah in position to beat Ohio State in the Rose Bowl before it absorbed a 48-45 loss. Utah has an experienced squad as Whittingham will welcome back tight ends Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid, who will both be NFL-caliber players in the near future.
The wide receiver spot will be solid while Tavion Thomas is back as the featured running back after he rushed for 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns. Florida transfer Mohamad Diabate and Karene Reid will pick up the linebacking spots which were a major part of the Utes’ depth last season.
Cole Bishop will lead a deep secondary where Vonte Davis is the team’s leading returning tackler and cornerback Clark Phillips, III, deflected a team-high 13 passes. The OVER looks like an easy play on both of Utah’s settings on regular season wins by the sportsbooks. The opener at Florida can go a long way in telling how far this team can go in the postseason.
The Utes have (-165) for OVER 9 wins to fit into college football playoff odds as 6.5 wins in the Pac-12 also would place Utah into those, per sportsbooks. The odds are on the Utes being UNDER 9.0 regular season wins to sit at (+125) while UNDER the 6.5 victories (+135). Utah can score from anywhere on the field by a multitude of players as the Utes are once again a Pac-12 favorite …. and maybe more.
Crimson Tide Is Favorite Over Buckeyes for the Title
Many of us are looking for four finalists in the College Football Playoff other than the “field of six” that has dominated the CFP since this playoff system was announced. Even with Utah or USC as a potential sleeper, Alabama vs. Ohio State will be the likely national championship matchup behind a couple of Heisman hopefuls at QB.
Take the Crimson Tide to win the national championship. Alabama has enough defensive talent to deal with the plethora of offensive weapons that the Buckeyes will run out there. Although the Buckeyes (-260) are a prohibitive favorite over Michigan (+450) to win the Big Ten, the week-in, week-out competition is not at the level of the SEC.
This matters in an intraconference championship affair where Alabama, for example, has road games at LSU, at Ole Miss, and at Tennessee in addition to a Week 2 affair at Texas. College football playoff odds place the Crimson Tide with (+175) to win the national championship and Ohio State is a close second as the Buckeyes stand at (+300) as of now.
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