College Football Championship Predictions and BCS Futures Odds
by Dave Schwab - 5/24/2011
The start of the 2011 college football season is still more than three months away, but it is never too early to start handicapping the top teams in the nation in an effort to uncover the current value in each of its chances to win this season’s national title.
The first futures odds for the 2012 BCS Championship were actually released before the 2011 BCS title game between Auburn and Oregon was even played. Back in mid-January Bodog opened Oklahoma as the odds-on-favorite at 7/2 to win this year’s title. Four months later the odds have slipped back to 9/2, but the Sooners are still the early favorite to win it all.
This Big 12 powerhouse has won the conference title four times in the past five seasons and is just three years removed from an appearance in the national title game. The Sooners return 18 starters led by Heisman-hopeful quarterback Landry Jones on offense and linebacker Travis Lewis on defense. Wide receiver Ryan Broyles is primed for another stellar season as Landry’s primary target in the passing game and running back Roy Finch should be able to fill the void left by the departure of Demarco Murray. Head Coach Bob Stoops has a few holes to fill on defense, and will have to rally this unit after the tragic death of LB Austin Box, but in short Oklahoma is definitely one of the most talented teams in the country heading into the fall.
The second favorite is Alabama at 11/2. The Crimson Tide have closed the gap with the Sooners after opening at 15/2 early in the year. They will need to replace a couple of key starters from last year’s offense in RB Mark Ingram and WR Julio Jones, but Trent Richardson could actually be a better overall runner than Ingram and Darius Hanks should have little problem filling the No.1 receiver role.
The quarterback position remains an issue for Alabama with the departure of Greg McElroy. Right now sophomore signal caller A.J. McCarron is penciled in as the starter, but this situation could change by the time the season starts. The Tide will also have to replace DE Marcell Dareus, who is now with Buffalo in the NFL, but will return 10 starters from last year’s unit that included four all-conference players. The last five national champions have come out of the SEC, including Alabama in 2009, so it is hardly a stretch to see the Tide once again being right in the thick of things this season.
The revitalization of Florida State’s program over the course of the past few seasons has the Seminoles currently as the third favorite at 10/1, which is exactly the same odds they opened the year at. The loss of QB Christian Ponder along with a good chunk of their starting offensive line will have to be addressed, but second year Head Coach Jimbo Fisher is confident that E.J. Manual is ready to step up and take Ponder’s place and a strong recruiting effort will fill any other holes that may exist.
The real strength of this team lies in a defense that should not only dominate the ACC, but rank as one of the best in the country. The defensive line returns three quality starters, including DE Brandon Jenkins, and CB Xavier Rhodes is back to anchor the secondary. Florida State should have little trouble with its conference schedule, but faces a huge challenge in late September when it hosts Oklahoma.
Two teams whose stock continues to rise hail out of the Pac-10. Stanford opened at 25/1, but bolted to 16/1 once QB Andrew Luck decided to return for his senior year. Oregon; which opened at 14/1 has caught some interest to return to the title game and is now listed as 12/1.
The early money has not been bullish on the Big Ten as Penn State went from 20/1 to 30/1, Wisconsin went from 28/1 to 35/1, and the newest member of the conference, Nebraska, went from 18/1 to 25/1. Surprisingly enough, all the trouble at Ohio State as not had an adverse effect on its odds. In fact, the Buckeyes opened at 20/1 and are now listed at 14/1.
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