LSU are the defending national champions, but with the Tigers having already lost three games, there will be a new king in college football. So, who is the favorite, per the betting odds, to claim the national title in January? It should be no surprise that it is Alabama.
1. Alabama (+125)
When Alabama failed to make the College Football Playoff last season it snapped a four-year streak where they not only made the CFP, but the title game as well, winning two of them, while losing the other two. The Tide were poised to return to the peak after a rare two-loss season in 2019, and they have delivered, opening the season at 6-0, with impressive wins over Texas A&M and Georgia.
As the top ranked team in the country, the only thing that could realistically prevent ‘Bama from the CFP is if they manage to lose two of their remaining games. Alabama’s schedule includes home games Kentucky and their archrival Auburn for the Iron Bowl, while their remaining road contests are at Arkansas and a game at LSU that needs to be rescheduled after a cancellation due to a COVID related outbreak. If Alabama were to win even three of those four games, and they will be heavily favored in the betting odds in all four, they would likely face the Florida Gators in the SEC championship game, and while a win would cement their spot in the CFP, even a loss could see them make the CFP as the best one-loss team.
2. Ohio State (+250)
The Buckeyes stunned the college football world to win the first ever CFP as the bracket’s four seed, but have not returned to the title game since, losing in the semifinals to Clemson in 2016-17 and last year. This year, the Big 10 is as weak as it has been in many years, providing a clear path to the final four for OSU. The Buckeyes biggest stumbling block might be its own schedule, the Big 10 only began play in late October, and Ohio State has already had a game cancelled. At 3-0 with only four games left on their schedule before a potential Big 10 title game, would OSU’s invite be at risk if another game or two get cancelled? As far as the games left on the schedule, the one that poses the most risk is their upcoming matchup with the 9th ranked Indiana Hoosiers. If they get past Indiana, they still have road games at Illinois and Michigan St, before playing “The Game” against Michigan on December 12 at home.
3. Clemson (+400)
Incredibly, the once-dormant Clemson Tigers have played in 4 of the past 5 national championship games. However, while Clemson waltzed through the 2018 and 2019 regular seasons undefeated, they already have a blemish on their record. With their all-world QB Trevor Lawrence missing, the Tigers fell to Notre Dame 47-40 in double overtime on November 7. However, the committee that picks the CFP are well aware that Lawrence missed the game, and if Clemson can run the table and win the ACC title game, the odds that they will be in the CFP seem to be close to 100 percent. The rest of Clemson’s regular season slate includes a game at Florida State, which is struggling immensely, Pittsburgh at home, followed by Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. If the Tigers win out, they will get a second crack at Notre Dame, and this time they should have Trevor Lawrence at the helm.
4. Florida (+1250)
The Florida Gators control their own path to their first ever CFP appearance, despite an early season loss at Texas A&M. If the Gators were to win out, and then win the SEC title game against Alabama, it is hard to imagine they would be left out of the CFP. How realistic is that? Well, Florida’s remaining games are against Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, before wrapping up against a struggling LSU. If they can win out they would clinch the SEC East because they already have the tiebreaker over second-place Georgia.
5. Notre Dame (+2000)
The fighting Irish are the last of the five teams who truly control their own destiny: if they win out, they will make the CFP. But Notre Dame’s road might be tougher than any of their competitors. The Irish would likely need to defeat Clemson a second time in the ACC title game, though if they did, they would almost certainly be the first or second seed in the CFP, avoiding Alabama in the semifinals. Does Notre Dame have any reason to fear the rest of their ACC schedule? Their toughest test left on the docket is a November 27 game at 6-2 North Carolina. The Irish will be betting odds favorites in that game, but it’s far from a sure thing. Their other contests are at home versus 1-7 Syracuse before they end the regular season at 4-3 Wake Forest.
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