2015 College Football National Championship Futures Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/13/2015
I would like to tell you that I had Ohio State as your first-ever College Football Playoff champion. Yep, I would like to have jumped on the Buckeyes' title odds when they briefly skyrocketed to 40/1 at Bovada after starting quarterback and Heisman contender Braxton Miller was lost for the season in August. I follow college football closely, but I had no idea whether backup QBs J.T. Barrett and/or Cardale Jones were any good. It turns out, they were. And Urban Meyer had one of the great coaching seasons in NCAA history in winning his third national title and joining rival Nick Saban as the only coaches to win one at multiple schools.
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I actually had Oregon's Marcus Mariota winning the Heisman back in the summer and the Ducks winning their first title. So at least Mariota delivered. But clearly Oregon was the inferior team in Monday's 42-20 loss to the Buckeyes -- the most watched event ever on ESPN and most-wagered on NCAA football game of all time. The College Football Playoff worked because OSU wouldn't have been able to play for it all under the old BCS system. Neither would Oregon. The Big Ten really won the bowl season in my opinion, with Michigan State beating an excellent Baylor team in the Cotton Bowl, Wisconsin beating Auburn in the Outback Bowl and then the Buckeyes beating the top two teams in the playoff rankings on the way to the Big Ten's first National Championship since the 2002 season. The Big Ten should only get better with the addition of Jim Harbaugh at Michigan and the continued rise of Penn State.
Next season's playoff semifinal games will not be New Year's Day but New Year's Eve because the Rose and Sugar Bowl have iron-clad TV contracts to be shown on New Year's Day. That seems silly when they aren't hosting the national semifinals, but that's what we get. So plan your New Year's Eve festivities accordingly. I would imagine that TV ratings are hurt a bit. The Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl host the semifinals, and the national title game is Jan. 11, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz., site of this year's Super Bowl.
Bovada has released early title odds for next season. Here's a look at a few teams.
Ohio State (6/1): The Buckeyes will be either No. 1 or No. 2 in the preseason polls -- TCU could be the top-ranked team. Has any school ever had more quarterback depth than the Buckeyes? Miller could return to Columbus next season, then you have the record-setting Barrett and Jones, the third-stringer who beat Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon handily. Technically Jones could turn pro as a redshirt sophomore. And there's been talk of Miller transferring for his final season. Or he could opt to move to running back or receiver next season -- the NFL doesn't see him as a QB at that level. Whomever is the starter will be a top Heisman candidate along with running back Ezekiel Elliott, who went crazy in OSU's final three wins. Meyer brings in another stellar recruiting class but has to replace offensive coordinator Tom Herman and a few key defensive players. The Buckeyes will be among the title favorites as long as Meyer is there.
TCU (15/2): Perhaps no team had a more impressive bowl game than the Frogs, who clearly wanted to make a statement to the playoff committee for dropping them out of the Top 4 in favor of Ohio State. TCU crushed a pretty good Ole Miss team (which beat Alabama and Mississippi State) 42-3 in the Peach Bowl. TCU is expecting 10 starters back on the nation's No. 2 offense, led by quarterback Trevone Boykin, who will also be a Heisman favorite.
Alabama (10/1): There's no such thing as rebuilding at Alabama, although the Tide do lose a lot of talent in quarterback Blake Sims, incomparable receiver Amari Cooper, running back T.J. Yeldon and safety Landon Collins, to name a few. Saban is expected to bring in the nation's No. 1 recruiting class yet again. FSU transfer Jacob Coker likely replaces Sims, and the Tide still have a beast running back in Derrick Henry. As usual, the schedule is a monster playing in the SEC West. Plus, Bama opens against Wisconsin and has to face likely SEC East favorite Georgia in Athens.
Oregon (14/1): If it wasn't clear before Monday how to beat the Ducks, it sure is now: Pound away at that defense with a running game. It's what Stanford used to do in upsetting the Ducks the previous two seasons and it's what Ohio State did. The Ducks lose Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, although he hasn't made if official yet. The Buckeyes' Miller has been rumored in possibly transferring to Oregon, and that would certainly boost the Ducks' title odds. There's still plenty of offensive talent there, but the QB makes it all go.
Florida State (16/1): It could be a mild rebuilding year in Tallahassee with quarterback Jameis Winston, top receiver Rashad Greene and star tight end Nick O'Leary moving on from the offense, which is likely to have just three returning starters. Still, the Noles will be ACC favorites although they will have to travel to Clemson, which should be very good again.
LSU (16/1): This is my top value pick on the board as the Tigers used a ton of youngsters this past season. Running back Leonard Fournette will be a superstar as a sophomore after his huge bowl game in the loss to Notre Dame. This all comes down to the quarterback position, which was a liability in 2014. If Ohio State's Miller or Notre Dame's Everett Golson transfer to LSU (both would be eligible immediately), look out. The Tigers do have to play at Alabama next season, but the nonconference schedule is very easy.
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