College Football: BCS National Championship Odds and Predictions
by Robert Ferringo - 7/28/2010
Here is a prediction for the upcoming college football season that you can take to the bank: this year is going to be a shit show.
Now, every year college football provides a unique and bizarre betting experience. In my eyes, only the NBA can come close to equaling the absurdity, from a gambling standpoint, of a college football season. And that’s saying something. But this year is going to be even crazier than most and I think we should gear up for things insane and obscene.
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Why do I think that this year will be particularly crazy? Because I know things. Because it’s my job to know. And because when I look around the college landscape I see a ton of instability at the top. The most dominant teams in the nation – the USC’s, Florida’s, Texas’s, etc. – have about 20 percent fewer returning starters this year. As I look around, very few of the elite programs have veteran or game-changing quarterbacks, much less the NFL Draft prospects we’re used to seeing under center. And other “contenders” are either teams that have glaring holes on defense or in the backfield, rough schedules, or are middle-tier programs that have proven time and time again that they aren’t ready for the big time.
All hell is going to break loose. There won’t be an undefeated team in the national title game, unless it’s Boise State. And I actually think that we could have a two-loss team win it all. Which is making the college football futures odds market look even more intriguing – and dangerous – this season.
Below is my list of teams that I think figure the most prominently in the chase for the BCS Championship. Now, there are some random teams that I left off this list. A team like LSU, Missouri, or some Pac-10 sleeper could make a move and work their way into the Top 5. It happens all of the time. But the odds of a team outside of the 15 that I listed here are much, much slimmer than even the most generous oddsmaker will tell you.
College football is an elitist sport, in that if you aren’t one of the elite programs you don’t have a legit shot at earning a BCS Championship. But hey, that’s life. And if you are a fan or backer of any of the teams I’ve listed here then life is good.
Here is my breakdown and predictions of the odds to win the 2010 college football BCS National Championship:
Alabama (+400) – I know that it’s blasphemy not to bow down to the SEC teams. But the reality is that there’s a reason no team has won back-to-back titles. The Crimson Tide simply lost too much on defense, watching nine starters leave from last year’s champions. They have an amazing program and a pretty easy schedule. But I don’t think that Greg McElroy can go out and win games (which he’ll be asked to do more now) and I think that Mark Ingram can come back to earth after his Heisman. Alabama will be in the mix because of that schedule, but I have enough respect for the rest of the SEC to think that the Tide will get picked off a couple times in 2010. I don’t like these odds and don’t like Alabama’s shot. But they are the champions until proven otherwise. And since they are the frontrunners in the SEC – the conference that has produced the last four national champions – then they have to be considered the top contender. (Although I won’t have any money on this play.)
Ohio State (+600) – Yeah, I know: Ohio State flopping in the national title game or flopping on a national level has nearly reached Buffalo Bills proportions. But in a wide-open field this year they could be set up for another opportunity. And you have to get to The Big Game to have a shot at winning it. Ohio State has a crucial nonconference game with Miami in early September. But they get that game at The Shoe. Their two biggest Big Ten tests are on the road (at Wisconsin and Iowa). But Jim Tressel has proven time and time again that his team excels away from home. Terrelle Pryor could have a Vince Young-type impact in a winner-take-all game and if Ohio State’s front seven holds up this could be a season for them to put another trophy in the case.
Oklahoma (+600) - Oklahoma has been on a slow-and-steady slide over the past several seasons, losing an average of 3.4 per games between 2005 and 2009. In the five seasons prior to that they lost just 1.4 games per year and were perennial national title contenders. I think they may be ready to take a leap back up to Elite. A rash of injuries decimated them in 2009. But a lot of young guys got experience last year and are ready to make their mark. Yes, they lost plenty of NFL talent. But they have an experienced quarterback and proven starters at every level of their offense, defense and special teams. The schedule is manageable, with key nonconference games at home against Florida State and on the road at Cincinnati. They should be significant favorites in both games. A tricky Big 12 schedule awaits, but if they beat Texas in October they have the inside track at the league title. I think that their odds are a shade too low – I think +800 or +900 would be more accurate – but there is something about this team that I think could materialize. (Even though they are 0-3 in their last three title games.)
Boise State (+800) – Things really couldn’t be set up any better for a non-BCS team to win the BCS National Championship. Boise State has enough national respect to start the year in the Top 10. They have 20 starters back from a team that went 14-0 last year and is 26-1 in its last 27 games. They open the year against a young defense in a game that would A) give the Broncos even more credibility and B) is by far their toughest game of the year. Also, the top-tier teams – Alabama, Florida, USC, etc. – all are breaking in new quarterbacks or a host of new starters. It’s now or never. There are, legitimately, only three “loseable” games on the slate (Virginia Tech, Oregon State, Nevada). And if the Broncos get to the title game I don’t know that they would lose.
Nebraska (+1500) – I definitely think that the Huskers are in a great position to make it back to the lofty status that eluded them throughout the 00s. They lost the nation’s best defensive player, but the D is deep, physical and experienced. And offensively they have one of the league’s best quarterbacks to go along with nine returning starters. Also, the schedule is tailor-made. Their two most difficult foes (Texas, Missouri) have to come to Lincoln. So if the Huskers can make it to the Big 12 Championship Game undefeated then they would be in a win-and-in situation to play for the title. I’ll take these odds on a team that essentially only has to win three games – two of which are at home – to make the title game.
Miami (+2000) – I know that you’re never going to get great odds with Miami. After all, they are ‘The U’. But this Hurricane team is legit. Their defense is as athletic and skilled as any in the country. And if Jacory Harris can follow up his breakthrough 2009 with more consistency then Miami could be in business. They have a brutal slate, with nonconference road games at Ohio State and Pittsburgh. But on the other hand, their schedule offers an exceptional opportunity. If they knock off OSU and Pitt then I think Miami would have bought enough credibility to afford an ACC loss (which will certainly come). The ACC Coastal is just absolutely loaded. And if any of the teams step forward and run the table they should be in consideration. Miami isn’t the best team in the nation. Not even close. But a bounce or two goes their way and the Hurricanes could be knocking on the door.
Wisconsin (+4000) – This team isn’t even close to national title-caliber. And much better Wisconsin teams have flopped in the past. But as I look at the roster and at the schedule I definitely think that this team has a shot at a BCS bowl. And if they can beat Ohio State at home and win at Iowa the next week – admittedly a tall task – then they could run the table and post an unbeaten season. The computers always love the Big Ten and this is a “name” program. Two wins (and a tricky trip to The Big House) and they could be 12-0. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Especially this season.
North Carolina (+6000) – These odds are stunning to me. Stunning. I know that it’s North Carolina. And I know we’re talking about the wrong sport if we are considering them as a national title contender. But just like Alabama last year, this team is armed with one of the top two or three defenses in the nation and a running game that can beat people into submission. This UNC team is legit. And if they are the ones to come out of the Coastal then they will have enough scalps to make a BCS Title case. They can start the buzz early with a win over LSU in the season opener. They then get two weeks to prep for their home opener, a key revenge clash against Georgia Tech. If UNC can win those two games then they are in serious business. After that, a road game against Miami and a home game against Virginia Tech would be the two speed bumps keeping the Tar Heels from reaching levels the program has never known.
West Virginia (+8000) – There are other teams breaking in a new quarterback that have odds much, much lower than this. Noel Devine is a game-changer and could be a Hesiman candidate. And the Mountaineers have seven of their top eight tacklers back from a stellar defense. WVU has to go to LSU in late September. But if they win that game then they only have two real tests in Big East play (at UConn, at Pitt). This team is three good games away from running the table. And if they are one of only a couple undefeateds left at the end of the year then they could fluke their way into the title game. Again, at these odds, $10 wouldn’t hurt.
Florida (+800) – You just don’t replace a Tim Tebow. I know that Tennessee won a national title the year after Peyton Manning left. But that’s because they brought everyone else back (and they caught a million breaks). Florida won two titles in three seasons and has a trio of 13-1 years in the last four seasons. They are still the best program in the country. And they are loaded with talent. But there is the dark cloud surrounding Urban Meyer’s health (or commitment) as well as the incredible loss of experience from the last three years. Just like Alabama, it isn’t magic. Florida doesn’t have the experience to run the table in the SEC. The Gators are in the mix, but I wouldn’t bite on these short odds.
Texas (+1000) – The Longhorns had their shot last year. They lost. They definitely aren’t better off this season without Colt McCoy (and many others). The team that lost in the title game has made a return trip twice in the last six seasons. But both of those other programs (Oklahoma in 2003 and Ohio State in 2007) lost again. I think OU is better than Texas and I think that Nebraska is better than Texas in the Big 12 this year. And with question marks all over the offense I don’t take this team seriously as a threat.
TCU (+1800) – Boise State has the goods to make a run at a national title. TCU does not. TCU has a load of experience and comes from a better conference. But they don’t have enough of a nonconference slate (a “neutral site” game with Oregon State doesn’t have much sizzle) to get serious consideration for the BCS title game. They could make a move on a BCS bowl – again, no small feat for a non-BCS team – but they aren’t winning the national championship this year. Even if they do run the table they still have no shot.
Virginia Tech (+1800) – If Virginia Tech beats Boise State right out of the gate then this team could build some quick momentum. And I know that all Frank Beamer does is win, racking up double-digit victories in six straight years. But the reality is that deeper, more talented, more experienced Hokies clubs than this one have failed to win the national title. I don’t see them having the goods to run the table in the ACC, and that may be what it takes. Instead, this team will spend its season as a spoiler, not a contender.
Iowa (+2000) – I know that the Hawkeyes are a sexy pick to win the Big Ten coming off their 11-2 run last year. But even with 14 starters back – including eight on a dominating defense – there is almost no way that Iowa can equal last year’s win total. Last year there were at least three conference games that Iowa should have lost. They caught a lot of breaks and they rode a lot of magic. But that usually doesn’t happen two years in a row. I think that they will drop at least three games this season and will be eliminated early. This is definitely a ticket you don’t want to be holding.
Robert Ferringo is a writer and a professional NFL and college football handicapper for Doc’s Sports. Last year he brought home +62.5 Units for his clients in the NFL and he is regarded as one of the top totals players in the sport. He guarantees a winning football season this year or he will work for free until you turn a profit. Click Here sign up for his college football and NFL picks and get more information here.
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