College Football National Championship Predictions: Texas A&M A Title Sleeper at +4000
Last year’s college football season was in some ways unprecedented and in other ways extremely typical. If you placed bets on individual games, you likely had a lot of your wagers declared “no action” as the pandemic led to postponements and cancelations, or maybe you learned right before kickoff that 20 players on a team you’d picked weren’t playing. But if you were a futures bettor who picked the favorite, Alabama, to win the national championship … then things worked out exactly as you expected. There wasn’t much drama there.
This year might be somewhat of a reverse. Thankfully, vaccinations have made it much more likely that the majority of the season schedule will be played as planned, with comparatively few players (though still some) testing positive and missing games. But on the other hand, Alabama has lost a ton of talent to the NFL, which makes the No. 1 Crimson Tide something less of a clear favorite heading into 2021 and leaves the futures betting pool for the national title wide open. With that in mind, here are four bets to consider if you’re placing a futures wager on the national champion.
College Football National Championship Predictions
Ohio State @ +600
The two favorites, No. 1 Alabama at +300 and No. 3 Clemson at +450, are not getting good enough odds to make them all that interesting to me. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be the favorites, but remember that futures bets require you to let a sportsbook hold your money all season. In exchange for that, I generally recommend (with some exceptions) looking for value opportunities that would result in a more significant payout in the event of a win. Of course, if you’re only placing the bet to have fun following a team, run wild and enjoy yourself.
The Buckeyes are a happy medium between “value opportunity” and “long shot.” My guess is their odds are only this long because their QB situation is uncertain, but whoever gets the ball for OSU will be a recent five-star recruit, and the rest of the Big Ten is miles behind the Buckeyes’ talent. I would trust either C.J. Stroud or Quinn Ewers to lead a roster this good back to the College Football Playoff. The Big Ten isn’t good enough to stop them.
Georgia @ +800
The No. 5 Dawgs have a number of preseason roster and injury issues, and those do give me a little pause here. Star receiver George Pickens tore his ACL in March and has an unclear return timeline. Transfer tight end Arik Gilbert has been away from the team. Tight end Darnell Washington and safety Tykee Smith are now dealing with injuries, too. It is easy to build up a lot of anxiety, quickly, about Georgia’s chances for a title run falling apart.
I don’t think that’s going to happen, though. UGA might indeed lose in Week 1 to Clemson, but after that, there’s no one on the schedule who should be able to compete with the sheer talent up and down Kirby Smart’s roster. The Dawgs should play in the SEC Championship in December, and once they’re there, they are effectively three wins from the national title. This is the most skilled roster in the country with the arguable exception of Bama.
Oklahoma @ +900
The No. 2 Sooners have won the Big 12 six years in a row and made the Playoff four of those times. They’ve had no success whatsoever in the Playoff, because their previously horrible defense was not able to keep up with the spread offenses they saw in that event.
But maybe it’ll be different if the Sooners are able to win the Big 12 again (likely) and get back to the dance (a solid chance). QB Spencer Rattler is a deserving Heisman Trophy favorite, and the offense will score tons of points yet again. The difference now is that Oklahoma’s defense has quietly gotten worlds better, going from 84th in 2018 to an impressive 15th in 2020. These Sooners would be in a position to contend much more seriously in another Playoff appearance.
Texas A&M @ +4000
This is the longest long shot I’d feel comfortable taking a flier on. There are several reasons to believe in the Aggies this fall: The defense should be tremendous, the offense has some of the best skill position players in the country, Alabama might be slightly less than its usual dominant self in the SEC West, and overall, the schedule shakes out more favorably than most years.
The obvious question mark is an important one: Who will play QB, and will he be any good? We’ll know soon enough if the answer is redshirt sophomore Zach Calzada or redshirt freshman Haynes King, but it might take some time to figure out how effective either will be. If the starter can be above average, No. 6 A&M has the tools elsewhere to be a real contender and make +4000 look like tremendous value. If not, you’ll understand why the odds are this long.
CFP National Championship Odds
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