It’s been seven months since the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrated their latest national title with a 26-23 win over the Georgia Bulldogs in the championship game. After the long wait, football fans can rejoice with the return of the college game. We had a tiny taste last Saturday but now the real first wave of games is upon us. Before we get started, let’s take one last look at the college football futures before the season gets fully underway.
The defending champion Crimson Tide (+220) remain the unquestioned favorites to win it all again. Alabama has absolutely dominated the college football landscape since Nick Saban’s arrival so it’s no surprise that the oddsmakers have them atop the power rankings once again. There is still a quarterback competition that needs to play out but the Crimson Tide offense will feature a solid run game that will lighten the load on whoever starts under center and the defense should be solid once again. What should help them even more is a cakewalk of a schedule with a road trip to LSU as their toughest contest.
Clemson (+400) is right behind Alabama as the Tigers deserve a ton of credit and remain trending upward under Dabo Swinney. They’ve had four top-five finishes and three consecutive trips to the College Football Playoff. Their defensive line is scary good and on offense, quarterback Kelly Bryant will have a ton of weapons once again but now he has experience. This team is as good as anyone.
Georgia is one of the teams in the upper crust after falling one win shy of a national championship. Head coach Kirby Smith needed only two years to turn Georgia into a legitimate contender. Now he returns with an absolutely loaded roster that features a Heisman Trophy favorite in running back D’Andre Swift. Georgia also has a relatively easy schedule – one which doesn’t even include Alabama as of yet. It would be a surprise if this wasn’t one of the teams in the final four.
Despite the circus following Urban Meyer in Columbus, the Buckeyes (+750) still have one of the most talented rosters in the country. That’s why they’re the only other team inside of 15/1 on the board. Ohio State is two-deep with stars at nearly every position including at quarterback where Dwayne Haskins could take the offense to another level with an improved pass attack.
Taking a look at some sleepers on the board, Penn State (+3000) and Michigan State (+3500) could offer some value. Much of the talk in the Big Ten is about Ohio State and Michigan, but these two teams are just as good.
And what about Florida State at +5000? It’s somewhat enticing when you consider they entered last year as a top-five team. They’re still very talented.
And although the Pac-12 doesn’t get much love these days, USC (+6500) always warrants consideration. Although they have a tough couple of weeks ahead with road trips to No. 13 Stanford and No. 23 Texas in Weeks 2 and 3, if they can weather that storm, they could go undefeated until their regular season-ending contest with No. 12 Notre Dame.