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The 2019-20 college football season is officially over with Joe Burrow and LSU finishing what they started in decisive fashion, beating Clemson 42-25 in the Superdome. While much of it was set regardless of the title game, oddsmakers wasted no time in getting up futures to take home next year’s title. While many of the usual suspects are near the top, headlined by Clemson (+200) who brings back star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, there is a log jam just behind them with Ohio State (+400), Alabama (+500) and Georgia (+1000) all within 10-to-1 odds. With so many unknowns remaining, such as draft declarations and the transfer portal, let’s take a look at the landscape as it sits now and try to find some value.
Favorite value bet to win the 2021 College Football National Championship
While they fail to make much noise once they get there, you can’t deny Oklahoma’s success in the College Football Playoff era. In his three seasons leading the program, head coach Lincoln Riley has made the playoff with three different quarterbacks, making each of them Heisman candidates along the way. Whether or not his teams continue to deserve to be in the playoff, allowing an average of 54 points in their three straight losses, is an entirely separate argument. The committee has made it clear that their offensive firepower is enough to get them in, and even with Jalen Hurts leaving for the NFL Draft this April, Riley might just have another ace quarterback up his sleeve.
A top dual-threat recruit in 2018’s national class, sophomore Tanner Mordecai reportedly challenged Hurts for the starting job this past summer, and you can reasonably assume he’s done nothing but improve. Riley also has the number one pro-style quarterback in the 2019 quarterback class in Spencer Rattler, who according to FanDuel Sportsbook is already +1200 to win the Heisman before playing a single snap for the Sooners. Just in case neither of those two work out, former Houston quarterback D’Eriq King entered the transfer portal this week and will be one of the most sought-after transfers of the year. He lacks the accuracy of Kyler Murray, but has better wheels than any of the three Riley has worked with thus far. Guess who’s on his reported shortlist of teams to join?
The biggest weakness for this Oklahoma team continues to be its porous defense who gave up seven touchdowns to LSU on the first seven drives of the game the last time we saw them on the field. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch did make strides in his first season at the helm, improving a defense that ranked 114th in the FBS in total defense to 38th overall. Like Riley, Grinch has reportedly got some looks from other programs but appears to be content continuing to build in Oklahoma.
With Baylor head coach Matt Rhule bolting for the NFL this offseason and their schedule aligning to get Texas, Baylor, and their only out of conference opponent (Tennessee) at home (or neutral), Oklahoma should be favored in every game next season. In a year I expect Grinch and his defense to take another step forward, you can guarantee Riley will pull his side’s weight. I bet we see this Oklahoma team right back in the CFP conversation come next December.