It has been an interesting college football season already for so many reasons. One of the biggest, though, is that through six weeks of the season we don’t really have a lot more clarity in terms of National Championship contenders than we did when we started. Things are as wide-open right now as they have been in years. You could make at least a bit of an argument for each of the teams in the Top 20 and a stronger argument for about 10 teams. The permutations and combinations of what is still possible are mind-boggling. Things should start to become clearer soon, but in the meantime here are the 10 most likely BCS National Champions according to the oddsmakers (all odds are from Bovada) along with predictions and futures odds:
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Alabama (19/10): The Tide aren’t as dominant as people assumed coming into the season after they struggled to contain the Aggies. They are still in the driver’s seat, though. Their last truly challenging game is against LSU, and they play them at home. The rest of their games are very winnable — Tennessee is the second-best team they play. They are sitting atop the polls and will stay there unless they lose, and they have the deepest, and most talented, team in the country. There are issues — most notably the suspension of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and the distractions and possible further repercussions that could come from it. Also a concern for Alabama is that because of the depth in the sport this year, Alabama can probably not afford to lose a game and still make the National Championship Game like they have the last two years.
Oregon (5/2): With a strong start and games against Washington, UCLA and Stanford in their next four games, Oregon is likely the only team besides Alabama that completely controls its own destiny. If the Ducks keep winning, they will be playing for the title. They have been ridiculously dominant so far, albeit against weak opposition, so they are well-positioned to do well. Their trip to Stanford on Nov. 7 looms as their de facto National Championship semifinal game.
Ohio State (6/1): The Buckeyes got a real scare last week in their game at Northwestern, but they came out on top. They have some issues, though — and they involve making the National Championship Game. They have played two of their three toughest games already and are sitting well down the list in computer rankings. Their only big time game left is at Michigan to finish the season, and the Wolverines have looked rough lately and may not have much of a record by the time that game rolls around. Ohio State may not be able to do enough to climb up into the Top-2 rankings needed to play in the championship unless they get a whole lot of help. As such, there isn’t a lot of value in this price.
Baylor (10/1): The Bears have been impressive, but this price is ridiculous. They have scored at least 69 points in each game, but they have yet to play a tough opponent. They are well down both the polls and computer rankings as a result. Their schedule is back-loaded, and they don’t have a championship game to further boost their case. They would need to win out and then get even more help than the Buckeyes need. It’s just not likely to happen, so this price makes no sense.
Florida State (12/1): Too often players don’t meet the hype when they come into the season facing massive expectations. Redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston has exceeded them. The defense has been very strong as well. We can’t even begin to judge this team and their chances, though, until they play their next game on Oct. 19. If they beat Clemson, they will jump up the standings, and there will be value here. After that they have games against Miami and Florida, so they would have plenty of opportunities to climb up the ratings and earn their chance. Lose to Clemson, though, and it’s all over.
Clemson (14/1): The same goes for the Tigers as for the Seminoles — lose on the 19th and they are done. Win, and they have a chance to make a final statement against South Carolina to make their case. The Tigers and the Seminoles both have a bigger issue, though. It’s hard to imagine either of them winding up ahead of unbeaten Alabama, Oregon or Stanford, so the ACC champion would likely need at least two of those three to lose to get their shot.
Stanford (14/1): The computers love Stanford, and they have been playing very well. It all comes down to Oregon. Beat them, and Stanford would have a very good chance of remaining in the top two BCS spots and playing in the final BCS Championship Game. They absolutely cannot afford a loss, though.
Georgia (25/1): They are the only team in the country with two wins against Top-10 opponents, so they are the highest-regarded one-loss team. To keep their hopes alive, though, they need to win out — including the SEC title game. The regular season is possible, though tougher now that they are hit by so many injuries, but they would likely also have to beat Alabama or LSU in the SEC Championship Game. On top of that, they would need some help — like a lot of losses from the two ACC teams, the two Pac-12 squads and Ohio State. Not likely — as the price suggests.
Louisville (25/1): At this point we know that Teddy Bridgewater will be a good player on Sundays and that his team is likely to go unbeaten. It also likely isn’t going to matter. They have looked good, but they haven’t played anyone, that isn’t going to change, and there is far too much of a logjam in front of them. They will have to settle for a chance to make some noise in a lesser BCS bowl game. Betting on them at this price would be like throwing your money away.
LSU (25/1): The Tigers lost at Georgia and are not doing great in the polls or the computers right now. They have time to change that, though — albeit with a tiny margin of error. They have Florida, Alabama and Texas A&M down the stretch. If they win out they will win their division, and would have a likely rematch with Georgia to prove their worth. As a one-loss SEC Champion they would be positioned to swoop in if there aren’t enough top-level unbeaten teams because they would likely be the top-ranked one-loss team. Like Georgia, though, they would need a massive amount of help, and it’s hard to see them getting it — even if they do survive a brutal schedule.
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