BCS National Championship Predictions for Futures Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 02/26/2009
Next year's recruiting classes are signed, the coaches are in place, and preparations for spring ball are well underway. That means that now is as good a time as any to look for value in BCS Championship futures odds. The public isn't paying any attention to the sport right now, so the odds are reasonably untouched and unaffected at this point. That's good news for bettors.
Before we get into looking for value, let's look at three places where it isn't present. The first is the favorite. Florida is at 7/4. They won it last year, Tim Tebow and much of the defense is back, and Urban Meyer obviously knows how to take his team deep. The problem isn't their fundamentals. It's the price. The prospect of investing $100 for 10 months for a shot at a $175 profit given everything that can go wrong in college football and how hard it is to make the big game just isn't appealing. The same basic argument goes for the co-second choices at 5/1. Oklahoma should be improved on defense over last year with nine starters returning, but Tim Tebow will have to get familiar with an entirely new set of players on offense. They aren't likely to score nearly as much as they did last year, and that changes everything enough to make this price unattractive. USC loses their entire impressive linebacker corps, their quarterback, and much more talent. Given that it is the Trojans, we know that they will be reloaded and talented, but we don't now how quickly the new players will adjust. Too risky.
With those teams out of consideration, here are five teams that offer a better betting proposition, and one that sadly doesn't:
Texas (8/1) - Colt McCoy is the third of the big three quarterbacks to come back for another year. I'm not convinced that they have the best shot of the three teams, but their chances are best represented by the odds. McCoy gets to enjoy four returning offensive linemen and two top receivers. The defense has gone through more change, but it has some real upward potential, led by defensive backs Earl Thomas and Blake Gideon - two guys with tremendous buzz and the potential to really break out this year. Another advantage that this team has is that the Big 12 isn't going to be as strong this year as it was last year. Oklahoma will be just as good, but Texas Tech and Missouri have some rebuilding ahead of them. That makes it easier for Texas to survive the conference, and it can keep them fresher for the stretch drive.
Oklahoma State (50/1) - There's more interesting value in the Big 12. The Cowboys put together an impressive run last year, and the key pieces are back for another year - QB Zac Robinson, running back Kendall Davis, wide receiver Dez Bryant. I have little expectation of the team learning to play defense in the offseason, but at this price I'm not sure it matters.
LSU (20/1) - At this time next year I think we'll be looking back at the Tigers' defensive front as perhaps the best in the country. If the secondary gets their act together then the defense could be something special. The offense is uncertain, but the potential is definitely there. Running back stud Charles Scott is back. That will make it easier for sophomore QB Jordan Jefferson to get comfortable for the responsibility he faces at the helm of a national championship contender. If Jefferson plays half as well as he did in the bowl game against Georgia Tech then he could be something special.
Alabama (22/1) - This team has had the top recruiting class two years in a row, so they obviously have some talent in the pipeline. They lose some big talent like Andre Smith and Rashad Johnson, but they have the depth to make up for that. The biggest and best change is on offense with the graduation of QB John Parker Wilson. Losing a senior QB is always a concern, but the truth is that Wilson just wasn't that good. His replacement, Greg McElroy, is more talented, and his transition into the starting role will be made easier because he gets to toss to Julio Jones and hand off to Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram.
North Carolina (45/1) - You've got to have a long shot or two in cases like this, and my pick is the Tar Heels. They are a team clearly on the rise, they have recruited well, they are well coached, and they play in a reasonably soft conference. Stranger things have happened.
Michigan (120/1) - If you have ever invested your heart and soul into a team that self-destructed in dramatic fashion then you will understand why I have Michigan on this list. The only way I can stay sane is to believe that my beloved team's 3-9 debacle was all part of the plan, and that the fact that I have about as much collegiate quarterbacking experience as their entire roster doesn't matter at all. I have two choices - I can believe we can win it all, or I can curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep.