We’ll be hard-pressed to get a better national title game than the one we witnessed at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. The Clemson Tigers got revenge in their rematch with the Alabama Crimson Tide, scoring a winning touchdown in the final seconds to cap off a 35-31 comeback victory.
Now it’s time to look ahead to the 2017-18 campaign. Oddsmakers at various sportsbooks have posted their lines to win the National Championship. Let’s go over the favorites and some possible value bets that might be worth a look even though we’re still months away from the season.
It’s no surprise that Alabama is the prohibitive favorite to win the title this season at +225. After all, they’re the only team to make the four-team playoff in each of the first three seasons in the new format. They seem to always be there in the end as Nick Saban gets the best recruits and does the most with them.
Florida State (+700) is the second-favorite. That is interesting because Alabama actually plays Florida State to open the 2017 season. They will square off in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on Saturday, September 2nd. The loser of that game will obviously still be alive for the playoff, but they would be unlikely to get in with two defeats, so they’ll have to run the table the rest of the way.
The other four teams that oddsmakers are giving the best chance of winning it all are Ohio State (+750), USC (+900), Michigan (+1200) and Oklahoma (+1200). The Buckeyes were one of the youngest teams in the country last year, but now they have almost everyone back, including JT Barrett. USC was perhaps the hottest team in the land at season’s end and will be a factor. Michigan will challenge Ohio State for Big Ten supremacy, and Oklahoma remains the class of the Big 12.
Scroll below this table to find my best value bets to capture the title.
Kirby Smart is already proving that he’s one of the best recruiters in the country. Quarterback Jacob Eason got his feet wet as a freshman last year, and he should be much improved as a sophomore. Helping him out will be the fact that both Nick Chubb and Sony Michel return in the backfield, giving the Bulldogs one of the best running back tandems in the country.
Georgia does have road games at Notre Dame and Tennessee early in the season, but both teams will be breaking in new quarterbacks. The Bulldogs also manage to avoid both Alabama and LSU from the SEC West. The SEC East is up for grabs this season, and the Bulldogs have as good a chance as anyone to win it. That would put them in the SEC Championship Game, and a win there would almost certainly get them in the playoff.
The Badgers won the Big Ten West last year and blew a huge lead to Penn State in the conference championship game. Had they won that contest, they would have certainly had a case to make the playoff. And I think they are the best team in the West again this season and will get that chance again considering this is the worst division in the Power 5. They avoid Ohio State and host Michigan, while their two toughest road games are at BYU and Nebraska.
Wisconsin returns eight starters on one of the best defenses in the country, and gets back LB Jack Cichy, who missed the second half of the season. Eight starters are also back on offense, the key being four out of five starters returning along the offensive line. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook should take a step forward and still has his favorite tight end in Troy Fumagalli.