The College Football Playoffs might be the best postseason tournament in all of sports. It distills all of the intensity of a long tournament into just three games, where the winner claims the prestigious title of being the best college football team in the nation. With the usual list of contenders hoping to fend off some new faces hoping to crash the party, this could be one of the best College Football Playoffs yet. With odds from BetOnline, here are the odds to win the College Football National Championship, along with our pick to win it all.
No matter what you think of Alabama and their run of dominance under Nick Saban, betting on them always feels safer than betting against them. The only certainty in College Football Playoff era thus far has been the Crimson Tide - they’ve been one of the four teams in the Playoff in each of the first four seasons of the tournament.
Alabama enjoyed an incredible run to the National Championship last season, capped off by a thrilling comeback over the Georgia Bulldogs. The team made a switch at quarterback during the title game, replacing the ineffective Jalen Hurts with the incredibly effective Tua Tagovailoa. Tua changed the game for the Tide, as he was much better at fitting the ball into tight windows and setting his team up in positions to score against a Georgia defense that had their number in the first half.
Tua is the likely starter this season, although Nick Saban hasn’t gone public with his decision just yet. No matter what happens, Hurts is likely to figure into the equation in some way, as the idea of him playing a position other than quarterback has been floated since the end of last season.
The Tide has several holes to fill from last year’s championship team, including the loss of running back Bo Scarbrough and cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fortunately for Alabama, though, they are coached by Nick Saban, who consistently finds a way to replenish the talent on his roster without any lapses as players get used to their new roles.
The ground attack should be the Crimson Tide’s biggest strength this season. Running back Damien Harris was once the #1 rated high school back in the nation, and he’s now entering his senior season with two 1,000 yard seasons under his belt and his eyes on the first round of the NFL draft. He’ll be running behind a line featuring other top recruits and NFL prospects, including senior All-SEC left tackle Jonah Williams, who should be a top-10 pick himself.
DT Dexter Lawrence is a projected first round pick in 2018.
With how good Alabama has been of late, the fact that Clemson is considered neck-and-neck with them to win the National Title is a testament to how well the program has been built under head coach Dabo Swinney. This season, the Tigers will boast a powerhouse defensive line that should create havoc against any offense in the country, and that includes the Crimson Tide.
The defensive line is by far their strongest unit, which is a strong statement when considering that the rest of the team is phenomenal. Clemson has multiple defensive linemen that are projected to go in the first round of the NFL Draft. Defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins made Todd McShay’s preseason top 10, and defensive end Clelin Ferrell is slotted right behind them at #11. With that much talent on the defensive front, opposing offenses will struggle to find any solution to the relentless Tigers defense.
Offensively, Kelly Bryant is the most experienced quarterback on the roster, and he’s been named the starter in their opener against Furman. While there’s a comfort level that Swinney has with Bryant, who led the Tigers to an ACC Title last year in his first season as a starter, don’t be surprised to see some of their other signal callers get a look in 2018. No matter who is behind center, they will rely upon deep threat Hunter Renfrow again this season, who can stretch the field for anyone passing to them.
As long as Clemson and Alabama can avoid a couple massive upsets, they should be the top two seeds in the College Football Playoff. At 3.75-to-1 odds, Clemson certainly has a chance to win the title and would deliver a better return on investment than Alabama.
D'Andre Swift will have to step up to replace the versatile Nick Chubb.
Georgia should have won the College Football Playoff last season. They led Alabama 13-0 at the half in the National Championship game before Tua Tagovailoa came in and destroyed a season’s worth of momentum for the Bulldogs. This season, Georgia comes in with some question marks as a result of lost talent, but they should have the juice to make another serious run at a title.
The biggest losses for Georgia are linebacker Roquan Smith and running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Smith was an elite linebacker in the SEC, and was a no-brainer as a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft for the Chicago Bears. As for Chubb and Michel, their ability to break off explosive runs on a regular basis made things easier for the Georgia passing attack. Without those two backs, things could get tougher on Jake Fromm and the pass offense of the Bulldogs.
Fromm was a great story for Georgia last season, rising up as a freshman after the injury to Jacob Eason, but he benefited greatly from the presence of Chubb and Michel. This season, the Georgia offense will revolve more around Fromm, and his ability to cope with that will go a long way in determining how far Georgia goes this season.
Sophomore running back D’Andre Swift will be asked to fill the void left by Chubb and Michel, and he should be a capable replacement - he averaged 7.6 yards per carry last season as a freshman. They’ve also got a solid receiving corp for Fromm to lean on, including former #1 TE recruit Isaac Nauta.
While the defense lost their leader in Smith along with several other starters, they should still be solid in 2018, led by a very strong secondary. Senior cornerback Deandre Baker is amongst the best in the country, and could follow Smith as a first-rounder in next year’s draft.
To beat Alabama in the College Football playoff, a team will need to be strong on each side of the ball and feature some electric offensive talent. It took superhuman efforts by Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson to defeat the Tide in the last two years where Bama didn’t take home the title.
Heading into 2018, the other top contenders in college football all have questions in at least one area that will make it difficult for them to overcome Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, and studs like Elliott and Watson don’t come around that often.
If Tua Tagovailoa can play the way he did in the second half of the national title game, the Tide could very easily roll to another championship, and that’s what we see happening.
We’re taking Alabama at +200 to win the National Title. If they can avoid a serious pitfall in the SEC, they’ll be heading to the College Football Playoff, where they’ll be a large favorite over any opponent. We see Nick Saban winning his 6th title with Alabama at Levi’s Stadium next January.
ALABAMA NATIONAL TITLE +200?
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