After a few years of Clemson and Alabama playing, we saw LSU knock off the former champs. It came at the hands of Joe Burrow and an extremely talented LSU roster. Most of them are moving along to the NFL, so it will be tough for them to get back to a National Championship. We are looking at mostly familiar names who have been in contention over the last few years. The Clemson Tigers coming in as the strongest favorites makes the utmost sense with a lot of returning players including Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne.
Clemson Are Heavy Favorites (+200)
With Trevor Lawrence returning and their stud running back Travis Etienne, the offense is going to be loaded again. They will miss a few wideouts like Tee Higgins, and also Isaiah Simmons on the defensive side will be missed, but Clemson has posted top ten recruiting classes in three straight years, and in 2020 they are headed for a top three season. Out of the top ten recruits, three of them are going to Clemson. Justyn Ross is going to make an impact with Higgins heading to the NFL. The secondary will need some new fill-in options, but they have been producing strong secondaries year in and year out. Clemson took a knock because their division was so bad, and the ACC doesn’t project to be much better. They will go on the road against Notre Dame, which have been closer games over the last few meetings, but that is the only “tough” game on their schedule.
Ohio State (+400) & Alabama (+500)
Both teams will have a lot to replace, but similar to Clemson these teams are at the top of recruiting classes year in and year out. The positive for the Buckeyes is that they have Justin Fields returning, while Alabama will have to replace Tua Tagovailoa, and three of their wide receivers. They are also losing five defensive starters to the NFL Draft. The odds are showing very little concern for a hiccup of missing the National Championship, as they are consistently in the picture. The Buckeyes are a solid value at +400 to make it this early. The value will go down as the season goes on, especially with them dominating the Big Ten. While Clemson is in the best shape for the National Championship, the Buckeyes are certainly the next team to beat. Alabama is going to push the table again, but I still find Ohio State and Clemson to be in better shape. Of course seeding would change the odds significantly, but we are a ways away from that.
Big Ten Odds
Most teams not named Ohio State from the Big Ten have failed to get over that hump. We have seen big years from Wisconsin and Penn State over the last few seasons, but 1-2 losses always keeps them from having a shot in the playoff. Michigan and Iowa are all around the same odds. Penn State and Wisconsin both sit in the +4000 range, as they have been in the Rose Bowl over the past two seasons. The issue is they still can’t get a shot when they lose one or two games. However, if Penn State can win all their games, and say the loss is against Ohio State, they will have a chance to get in. Of course they would have to take them on again in the Big Ten championship. Wisconsin’s schedule is tough, where they face Michigan, Minnesota, and Notre Dame in three consecutive weeks. They’d also have to have a better conference record than Ohio State to keep moving. Penn State is the team I see the most value in at +4500.
It is no surprise to see five SEC teams within the first ten in terms of odds. LSU’s chances of repeating are a bit farfetched. They are just losing way too much in a retooled SEC to get back to where they were. However in 2022, they will have better odds. Georgia is losing a few names, but there is a lot of talent coming their way. Since 2017 they have had four top three recruiting classes. They lose talent to the NFL just like everyone else. An SEC schedule is always tough with Alabama, Auburn Florida, and then the SEC Championship on the horizon. There is a sizable gap compared to Florida and Auburn. We will see transition from Jake Fromm, but that shouldn’t hinder them.
Notre Dame (+2500)
The Fighting Irish are always hanging around. While they have seen a National Championship appearanceand have been in the playoffs recently, there is just a clear gap between them and the teams above. While the schedule is not as tough this year, they still have games against Clemson and Wisconsin. They will have Ian Book returning, but still lack key playmakers on both sides of the ball. I highly believe Notre Dame is always up in the mix at these odds because they can get the public to bite.
Big 12 & Pac 12 Favorites
Oklahoma comes in at +3000, but will lose most of their offensive weapons. They will also have to replenish a few names on the defensive sides. It is hard to like the Sooners with so much turnover, and a tough schedule ahead of them. Texas has been trying to get back into relativity, but that has been tough to do for them. While they are starting to head in the right direction, I don’t see them overcoming their schedule to get into the playoffs. Oregon took a big fall down to +6600 as they lost their starting quarterback, Justin Herbert, to the NFL Draft. The Ducks haven’t been bringing in the clear talent they used to a decade ago, and are projected to take a step backwards in 2020. USC are +3000 haven’t sniffed a championship since the early 2000s. They will face Alabama and Notre Dame as their out of schedule games, then have to face Utah and Oregon on the road. There isn’t a ton to like within either of these two conferences, as the odds are very top heavy in terms of what will likely occur.
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