College Football Futures: Top Picks to Win the 2023 CFP
The college football futures market is a unique one. First of all, the list of teams is gigantic. You'd think that would lead to a more even spread of the odds. However, college football is the ultimate land of the haves and the have-nots. After a smaller handful of teams, the numbers start getting gigantic for those willing to so much as venture even slightly off the beaten path. Going down the list of odds for teams to win the College Football Playoff, you're in the 20-to-1 territory after only five teams and looking at 40-to-1 after only eight teams.
Last season's champion, the Georgia Bulldogs, are at +350 on Bovada, second only to perennial preseason favorite Alabama, perched again atop the heap at a mere +190. Alabama is the rightful favorite. One could say, however, that with three titles in the last nine years, a +190 quote wouldn't qualify as great value. Sure, things seem to line up well for a big run in 2022 into the big games in the new year, but the potential pitfalls in the SEC are many, as are the other three teams they'd see if fortunate enough to get to the College Football Playoff this season.
It's a bet where you don't want to get too out of the loop. Contrary stances can be taken, but there's a human element at play here—a judgment factor that puts some teams into a no-win situation. Then again, Cincinnati getting into the CFP last season shows that if an uncelebrated team from outside the power five conferences can at least have a chance to make history. Still, while one can get a little wild with their picks and still have it make sense, a look at who has won the title in recent decades reveals a minimum of real out-of-the-blue surprises.
Let's look at the top picks to win the College Football Playoff Championship Game this upcoming season.
Top Picks to Win the NCAA Football Championship
Looking for value? You're not going to find it here. Looking for viability? You might just find it. First of all, Alabama gets every opportunity to get in. If it's close, it's going to be them, so they have a leg up in that regard. QB Bryce Young returns for a possible repeat Heisman campaign, and if the offensive line can get back to their typical sterling form, he may have even more time than last season. After getting run over by Georgia in the title game last season, I can see a bigger chip on the shoulder of the Tide this season. There will be some new faces on offense, especially in the aerial package, but ‘Bama has been a factory for great receivers, and that likely won't suddenly change. I'd look for an irritated Saban, better play up front, and an even more-developed Young to make the Tide a central factor this season.
Ohio State Buckeyes (+425):
At 10-2 last season, the Buckeyes finished the season well, and Ryan Day looks to return the Buckeyes more to the national stage. Like ‘Bama, they return a real power at quarterback in CJ Stroud but will need to revamp much of their receiver corps. What they do have in tow is a difference-making back in TreVeyon Henderson, who could go nuts this season. Day brings in a new defensive coordinator in Jim Knowles, and whether he can whip that unit into shape will go a long way toward determining how far the Buckeyes go this season.
Clemson Tigers (+1200):
In the context of college football, a 12-to-1 preseason quote could qualify as a longshot, and if recent history tells us anything, it's that Clemson is anything but that. Granted, a 10-3 season and finishing third in the ACC Atlantic Division in 2021 was a down season for the perennial contenders. But six straight wins to close the season, in addition to the transfer of QB Hunter Johnson, might have Dabo Swinney and the Tigers back in the thick of things this season.
Georgia Bulldogs (+350):
While not a great value to repeat as national champions this season, there is reason for optimism. Having raised their profile with their first title in over four decades, the road to the CFP is doable through the SEC East. Kirby Smart can relax, exorcise the demon and operate with less pressure. They have shown they don't need a Heisman candidate at QB to contend, and Todd Monken's offense should efficiently dominate opponents. The big question is at defense, where they lost a key coordinator in Dan Lanning, in addition to a gaggle of difference-making talent. With “D” being Smart's bread-and-butter and with other strong coaching on that side of the ball, forecasting a steep Georgia defensive decline this season could prove to be foolish.