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The kickoff for the College Football regular season is right around the corner. That makes for a great time to get a handle on the active NCAAF futures market. It should come as no surprise that the two squads in last year’s title tilt are the favorites to reach the game once again.
Both Clemson and Alabama look locked and loaded as the season approaches, so those odds aren’t that surprising. But which other teams have a realistic chance? Are there any dark horses out there who could shock the NCAAF world?
Let’s dig in and find out.
Clemson Tigers (+240)
The defending national champs have lost a bunch of defensive talent to the NFL, but the coffers have been restocked with a banner recruiting class. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are back to lead the charge on offense for a program which appears poised to earn another trip to at least to the College Football Playoffs.
Alabama Crimson Tide (+250)
If you think last year’s pounding at the hands of Clemson in the title game won’t serve as motivation for Nick Saban and company, think again. Tua Tagovailoa is a Heisman Trophy favorite, and he has a major weapon at his disposal in Jerry Jeudy. The Tide will roll over many in the quest for another playoff berth.
Sights Set on Playoffs
Georgia Bulldogs (+800)
It was close but no cigar for Georgia in the SEC title game last year. This year, Florida looks like the only real challenger to the Bulldogs in the SEC East. The program’s presence in the CFP will likely hinge once again on the conference championship game.
Ohio State Buckeyes (+1400)
There are many changes for the Buckeyes to deal with in the coming year. Most importantly, a new head coach and signal-caller will be breaking in at the same time. Despite that, the Big Ten looks like a race between them and Michigan. The winner should get a crack at the crown.
Michigan Wolverines (+1500)
Speaking of the Wolverines, it was looking like 2018 would be the year Jim Harbaugh and company got over the hump. Then they were destroyed by Ohio State. The team is rightfully among the favorites for a national crown once again, but the pressure is intensifying in Ann Arbor.
Oklahoma Sooners (+1500)
Back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners and trips to the CFP are big feathers in the Sooners’ cap, but they have their work cut out for them if they want to hit those marks again. Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts will be behind center, and a lot hinges on how he adapts to Lincoln Riley’s offense.
Texas Longhorns (+2500)
After a disappointing 2017 campaign, the Longhorns returned to relevancy last time around. They followed a 9-4 regular season with a 7-point win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. This is a talented team on both sides of the ball, and they could take another leap in 2019.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+5000)
The Fighting Irish had a perfect regular season against a tough schedule in 2018, but they proved to be no match for Clemson in the CFP semifinal. Another challenging docket awaits, including trips to Georgia and Michigan, so Notre Dame will certainly earn it if they make it back.
Teams to Keep an Eye On
Oregon Ducks (+4500)
The Pac-12 as a whole has been down of late. The conference has been shut out of the CFP for the past two seasons. That could change this year, and Oregon has the best odds to make it happen with signal-caller Justin Herbert leading the way.
Washington Huskies (+5500)
If Oregon happens to stumble, then the Huskies look like the next-best team in the Pac-12 (however, Utah is also in that mix). Washington brought it on defense last season, but questions abound as to whether or not the program can also deliver on offense in 2019.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (+6000)
The Scott Frost era in Nebraska couldn’t have started off any worse, but the Cornhuskers rebounded and performed well down the stretch last year. Adrian Martinez is among the favorites for the Heisman. Another year of seasoning for him could take this offense to the next level.
Texas A&M Aggies (+10000)
Jimbo Fisher put down a solid foundation in his first year on the sidelines at Texas A&M. There’s plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but the squad will need improvement in the secondary. That said, Kellen Mond and his supporting cast on offense could take some big steps forward this year.
The pick: Alabama +250
Barring something seriously unforeseen, we concur with the oddsmakers that it will likely be Alabama and Clemson in the title tilt once again. We don’t anticipate a spanking one way or the other this time around, but we do like the Crimson Tide to exact some revenge while picking up some more hardware.