The clock is tickin’ towards the start of the college football season and it’s time to get those futures in. I already wrote my preview for the Heisman this year so check that out if you haven’t yet. Today, I’m giving out the big bets. The National Title. If you root for a perennial loser like me with South Carolina, this is your most important bet of the year just from a mental health perspective. It might not be your sharpest bet or the most likely to hit, but it is the one that gives you a glimmer of hope on the horizon all season long (unless your team falls on their face two weeks into the season).
This season is an interesting one because Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State, who have all dominated the CFP era, are all in a rebuilding year. Now, for these schools the word “rebuild” is a very loose term because they are sliding 5-stars into basically every empty slot. However, experience is still a massive thing in college football, particularly at the QB position, and all three of these schools will be starting brand new QBs with little to no CFB experience. Meanwhile, you have some of those second-tier programs (assuming Alabama, Clemson, and OSU are on their own tier at the moment) like Georgia and Oklahoma who seem set up to have monster seasons. Then, the other goal for every CFB bettor is to find the 2019 LSU in the rough. Meaning, find the team that is from a consistently good program that can make the jump to that top-tier for one season and hopefully pull off a magical run and take down the titans of the sport, like LSU did.
My approach to betting National Championship futures differs every year based on how I see the landscape in CFB that year. In my opinion, Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State are all on a relatively equal playing field this year. Last year, I considered Alabama to be the best team in the country by a good margin and I just bit the bullet and took the bad number because I was that confident they would win. However, I don’t see a clear alpha amongst the Big 3 so I’m staying away from them altogether. I think this is a perfect year for another program to sneak in and win a title. So, let’s get into it.
4u Georgia +650
That’s right. 4u. I am ALL IN on the Georgia Bulldogs this season. I already wrote about how much I love JT Daniels leading the Georgia offense this year in my Heisman preview. It is a particularly weak year in the SEC East with Florida in a rebuild and nobody else particularly close to Georgia. They should cruise through the East and have their shot to an SEC title. With Alabama having as much of a rebuild as Alabama can have, I expect Georgia to have a really good chance of winning the whole conference. Between JT Daniels returning at QB, the usual dominant Georgia running game led by Zamir White, 3 starters returning on the OL, and head coach and coordinator continuity, this could be the best Georgia offense we’ve seen in a long time. They always have dudes on defense at Georgia and if it comes down to it, they might have the best punter in the country as well as a placekicker coming off a great first season as the starter where he went 13/16 and has serious range plus the clutch gene (hit a 53 yarder to win the Peach Bowl). I think it’s the Dawgs’ year and if it’s not… I’m certainly going down with the ship.
2u Oklahoma 8/1
Boomer MF Sooner. I think Spencer Rattler is the best QB in the country and he has maybe the best offensive mind in the country in Lincoln Riley leading him into battle. We all know how dominant the Oklahoma offense is year in and year out but the Oklahoma defense will be the difference this year. Alex Grinch is now going into year 3 with the Oklahoma defense and they have improved ever year under his control. On top of the coaching, this is easily their most talented unit to date. They have 7 starters returning on the defense as well as backup guys who have spent their whole time at Oklahoma learning from Grinch. Iowa State is the only real threat in the conference so if they can make it past the ‘Clones they will be a College Football Playoff team. The only question is whether or not they can beat the big dogs and with the improved defense and the elite offense, I think this could be year for them boys from Oklahoma.
1u Iowa State 35/1
Anyone who has followed my work the past couple of years knows I am maybe the world’s #1 Matt Campbell fan. I was dying for my Jets to hire Matt Campbell this offseason but Matt Campbell returned to Iowa State along with his senior QB and the nation’s top returning running back in Breece Hall. Iowa State almost any other year would be at worst a coin-flip for the Big 12 Championship but as we just discussed, Oklahoma is absolutely loaded. However, if (god forbid) Oklahoma has a serious injury or something like that it will open the door for Iowa State and honestly I am not ruling out the fact that Iowa State could lose the regular season game to Oklahoma then find a way to knock them off in the Championship Game and make the playoff. Go ‘Clones.
1u Texas A&M 40/1
Oh boy… here we go. As a South Carolina fan, rooting for Georgia and Texas A&M all year will be incredibly depressing but at least if they fail me I can hate them even more. The Aggies’ lone loss last year came to Alabama on the road who ended up being far and away the best team in college football. Texas A&M has been consistently a very good program since Jimbo took over and Jimbo has obviously won a National Championship in the past decade so he knows how to win the big one. In what could be a down year for Bama, I like Texas A&M as the team that could be the 2019 LSU that has a breakout year out of the West. The Aggies return their coordinators, 9 starters on defense, a big stable of skill position players including Isaiah Spiller, and a senior kicker with two years of starting experience. With Kellen Mond out the door, the QB position is really the only question mark for Texas A&M but they have a QB competition between redshirt freshman Haynes King (great SEC name) who is a great dual threat guy and sophomore Zach Calzada who has an absolute rifle arm. I think the QB situation will work out, especially with maybe the best RB duo in CFB to supplement their offense as the QB finds their way.
1u UNC 50/1
TARRRRR…. HEEEEELLLLSSSSS! Let’s go. Sam Howell is back for year 3 and should be a top-5 QB in the nation at absolute worst. Mack Brown took over a UNC program that was in a state of absolute disaster in 2019 and took an incredibly young team to a winning record with a bowl victory. He followed up that coaching display by leading UNC to a 7-2 regular season last year in the weird COVID season and I think they are poised to make the leap this season. Sam Howell will be absolutely electric and they return all 5 starters on the OL. UNC also returns 8 starters on defense and they have upperclassmen across the board. It is a theoretical down year for Clemson (just like Bama they don’t have real down years) and UNC is in the opposite division so Miami is the only real threat to challenge in that division. UNC has Miami at home and if they win that game they are basically locked in to the ACC Title Game. They also have Notre Dame off a bye so if they can find a way to win that game in late October as an undefeated team that has already beat Miami, they would probably be ranked top-5 in the country. After that, UNC has a pretty easy schedule to cruise through the rest of the season and get ready for the big game against Clemson that I really think they could pull out.
1u Ole Miss 150/1
This is my longshot here. There is only one GUARANTEE to make the College Football Playoff and that’s if you win the SEC. You could have 2, hell, even 3 losses, and if you won the SEC Championship, you WOULD make the playoff. Any other conference with a 2-loss conference champion probably won’t make the playoff unless there’s a down year overall, but not the SEC. All that being said, I think you can find the most value in the SEC if you have one team on a magical run. Matt Corral might be the NCAA leader in passing yards this year with his electricity in the Lane Kiffin offense. Corral also has all of his receivers from last year, other than Elijah Moore, Jerrion Ealy at RB, 4 starters on the OL, and maybe the best offensive coach in the country to help make this offense elite. This team came closer than anybody to beating Alabama last year, putting up 48 points in an incredible effort. Obviously, defense was the issue for Ole Miss last year, but this year they return 7 starters on defense and add the #6 freshman DT in the nation and two touted JuCo transfers on the line. Also, Otis Reese who transferred from Georgia last year but was not eligible until late in the season will be ready to go from the jump. Reese, a star safety, made an immediate impact in the secondary when he was finally cleared by the NCAA late last season and he could be the catalyst to giving the Rebs JUST ENOUGH defense to cover for their top-tier offense.
That’s it! The Dawgs, Boomer Sooner, the ‘Clones, the Aggies, the Heels, and the Rebs are our 6 teams this year. We’ll be rooting for them week in and week out and if we can get a couple of them into the playoff it will be a very fun holiday season for us. Best of luck to everyone and Go Dawgs.