The College Football season is just a month or so away and things are really starting to heat up in the odds market. It’s crazy to believe that the season is almost here, it seems like just yesterday we saw Alabama win the National Championship again, and now the odds are we will see them do it for the billionth time. You’ll see all the current odds to win the championship here, as well as a bit of analysis on each team. The usual suspects dominate the top of the board, but there may be a few surprises that you don’t expect that will be on our list. Let’s get right into it, and see who the oddsmakers believe will hoist the CFB trophy at the end of the season.
While the offense of the Crimson Tide lost a plethora of playmakers to the 2021 NFL Draft, the defense remains pretty intact for the new college season. We are so used to seeing a million Alabama defenders chosen in the first-round of the NFL Draft every year, that it has become pretty much tradition for an Alabama defense to take a step back after each national championship that they win. Just in the four-year span of 2016-2020 alone, the Crimson Tide have had seven defensive first-round draft picks, and 29 defensive players drafted overall. This season will be different though, as they are bringing back quite a few defensive starters for the 2021 season.
They did lose Patrick Surtain ll to the Denver Broncos, who used a top-10 pick on the talented corner. They also lost Christian Barmore and Dylan Moses, making three key positions open to fill for Nick Saben and the Tide. This simply isn’t nearly as big of a problem for them as it would be for most teams, as soon as a guy goes to the NFL, another 5-star recruit takes his place. I would say it’s like clockwork, but we all know it is never a guarantee that they pan out.
The offense is the biggest question mark, as there are huge shoes to fill at almost every position. The starting QB is gone, as is the starting RB and their two best WR’s. Several offensive linemen need to be replaced as well. That is a ton to replace, even for a school who is consistently the number one recruiting program in the nation. New QB Bryce Young is inexperienced, but extremely talented, and Alabama’s receivers are still supreme. John Metchie lll has been waiting his turn, while incoming freshman Agiye Hall is poised to be the best young pass catcher in the country.
The Crimson Tide have played in five of the last six College Football Playoff Championships, and have won three of them. This isn’t really a playoff, it’s basically the who will face Alabama bowl. Getting plus-money on Nick Saben and the Tide to win is always worth a bet, because they are almost always there.
Alabama, Clemson, Alabama, Clemson. It’s the same story every year at these two spots. Heck, I’d take a bet that these two will be the top favorites next year, and the year after that. That’s what happens when you have the best recruiting class every single year and the most time on national television in the spotlight. Clemson’s story is a lot like Alabama’s too. They lost a ton of players on offense, most notably QB Trevor Lawrence, but the defense remains mostly intact. You might not think much of that after seeing them get lit up by Justin Fields and Ohio State in the CFP Semifinal for 639 yards and 49 points, but this is set to be an elite unit.
Their front seven is anchored by DT Bryan Bresee, one of the best defensive linemen in the country. He is a dominant force in the middle of that defense, and can stuff the run with impunity. Edge-rusher Myles Murphy can get to the QB in a hurry, while veteran LB’s James Skalski and Baylon Spector will be two of the best in the nation.
With Brent Venables back for his 10th season with the team as defensive coordinator, he will make sure to shore up the holes that showed last year by some young and inexperienced players. Make no mistake, this is one of the best defenses in all of college football, and they will show it next season.
Georgia has finally found their answer at QB after all this time. Ever since Aaron Murray left after the 2013 season, the state of flux this position has been in may be the most frustrating for every major contending team in the country. Jake Fromm had promise, but was never good enough to win a title, and there has been no one since Murray that has given Georgia fans any confidence that their QB can get the ball to the playmakers down the field.
JT Daniels finally gives the Bulldogs what they have so desperately vied for over the last eight years, someone who can get the ball down the field in a hurry. In just four games last season, Daniels racked up 15 completions that went for over 30 yards, and averaged more than 300 yards through the air in those four games. That ability has not been there for Georgia in quite some time, and now that it is, look for the Bulldogs to once again be a team to reckon with in the SEC. They are the clear-cut frontrunner in the East division, and drew and easier draw than Florida, who has to play Alabama and LSU. Georgia meanwhile, has Arkansas and Auburn.
The problem will be the defense, the exact opposite of Alabama and Clemson. It’s weird to say that Georgia will have a better offense than defense, but that seems to be what we’re looking at. They will have to replace almost their entire secondary, which is one of the hardest positions to fill with quality players. They have some really good players like Kelee Ringo and Tykee Smith from the transfer portal that head coach Kirby Smart nabbed, but they will have a lot of new starters, which spells trouble for any team. The best defense in the country over the last four years will take a step back.
Even with the departure of Justin Fields, Ohio State is still Ohio State. There are still some question marks on defense that they will have to figure out, and the QB position is still the biggest mystery of them all. C.J. Stroud is the favorite to land the starting job, but it’s not guaranteed that he will be the one under center to start the season. With teams like Georgia and Oklahoma set with their returning signal-callers, Ohio State must find their guy to compete with those teams that are trying to take down Alabama and Clemson. Kyle McCord will also be battling for the starter job, as will Jack Miller lll. There is a lot of uncertainty here.
However, if they can find the QB of the future, they have immediately the best offense in the country. RB Master Teague lll is back, and he is not alone. Star freshman RB TreVeyon Henderson will insert himself into an already potent running attack, and will be the next superstar to man the backfield for the Buckeyes. Between WR and TE alone, Ohio State has at the very least seven guys who will be playing in the NFL soon, in particular Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. They will both be first-round draft picks when their name is called, barring any unforeseen injury.
They need to shore up the defense if they want to win a title though. It was awful last year, and after losing several players to the draft, it may be even more so.
When they got off to a slow start in 2020, some people immediately wrote off the Sooners. Starting a college season 1-2 is obviously not an ideal start, but they made up for that very quickly, winning eight straight contests and felt like a team that could have competed with Alabama and Clemson if people thought they would have done enough to make the CFP. That was not the case however, and hasn’t been the case for Oklahoma in recent years. Despite having some of the best QB play in the country year in and year out, they always seem to come up short. They are 0-4 in the CFP, getting obliterated by the competition on average by 20 points in those games. They weren’t even competitive in most of those games, which is way no one thought they were worthy last year.
This year could be different though. Most of the key players from last year’s squad are back for another year of play. The Sooners have also done a nice job plugging holes that they did have, with Kennedy Brooks returning from opting out last season, and having a great pool of players from the transfer portal. Spencer Rattler is obviously the biggest factor for this team’s success, but the defense should actually be good for once. They have made huge strides on that side of the ball since the days of Baker Mayfield, and under DC Alex Grinch, they are holding opponents below 360 total yards per game in back-to-back years. That trend should continue with most of the starters returning, and you are looking at a team with no real glaring weakness.
Look for the Sooners to once again contend for a championship, and hopefully this time, actually be competitive about it.
Now we have made the jump. Going from +800 odds to +2500 odds is a huge dropoff, and every team listed from here on out should be considered a true underdog to win the title. We start that list off with the Cyclones, who just had their best season in program history, and are looking to bring that magic back in 2021. There are plenty of reasons to believe that will happen too. Just about every key starter will be coming back for one more year with the Cyclones. QB Brock Purdy is a dark horse Heisman contender, while RB Breece Hall is not so much a dark horse but a real threat for the award. Star TE Charlie Kolar is also back, as is defensive anchor and leader Mike Rose and a bunch of other starters. Even if some of these guys have off years, there is more than enough talent and reason to believe that Iowa State can make the jump from tough out to real contender.
This was a very good team last year that didn’t get enough attention because they are Iowa State. That’s the problem with CFB, when teams like this are so good, but nobody knows who they are because they are not Alabama or one of the teams listed above. Look at these odds! I’ll take a shot on this team any day before I take some of the other teams in this range. They are simply too good to be ignored, and I would advise caution ignoring any team on this list. A few adjustments here and there, and the Cyclones could very well wind up competing with the big boys.
The school of Johnny Football is once again at the forefront of everyone’s mind, and for good reason too. While A&M doesn’t have a DeVonta Smith type of player that can change the game on a dime, they have all kinds of players on their roster that contribute in a big way that are returning this season. RB Isaiah Spiller is one of those special players that could challenge for the Heisman trophy if everything goes to plan for the aggies. TE Jalen Wydermyer is also a key contributor that will be returning to the program this year, someone who will be a contender for All-SEC honors in the coming season. Ainias Smith also emerged as a guy who will give the Aggies significant production this upcoming year, along with Devon Achane. WR Chase Lane had more than 400 receiving yards last season, while Caleb Chapman was well on his way to that before injuring his leg after just three games into the season.
Whoever is at QB will have a ton of weapons to work with, and the defense just keeps getting better under Jimbo Fisher. This could be a very underrated team this year that could compete for a title if their QB play is stellar. They will have time to figure that position out too, because they will play some very sub-par competition to start the season. Kent State, Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas and Mississippi State open up their season, so finding a QB will be a bit easier than maybe they hoped.
What college football list would be complete without mentioning the LSU Tigers? Not this one, as we end off with the 2019 champs that had an excruciatingly bad season last year. As great as that offense was with Joe Burrow and company two years ago, the defense was just as bad as that offense was good last season. The Tigers gave up more passing yards than any team in the nation per game last year, ranking dead last at 323 per game. They were also horrible against the run, allowing almost 5 yards per carry for a defensive unit that once was proud. If they want to have any chance at all to compete for a title in the absolutely packed SEC West, they will have to improve that unit drastically, and that started with getting rid of Bo Pelini as DC.
New DC Daronte Jones was a defensive backs coach in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings over the last five years, so he knows a thing or two about professional football. He was also the DB coach at Wisconson in 2015, when his Badgers had one of the best defenses in the country and allowed only seven passing TDs all season long. When you pair him with a super talented player like Derek Stingley Jr., you at least have a foundation to build upon defensively. It will all come down to howe much production he can get out of guys like Elias Ricks and Cordale Flott. It will certainly be a challenge, but if there is a team out there that is capable of turning things around after a very poor season, one of the best to bet on would be the LSU Tigers.