It was quite possibly the most exciting NCAA National Championship Game in College Football history. Alabama looked dead at the half and Georgia was dominating, but a change at quarterback brought a change of fortune as the Crimson Tide rolled back, tying the score and winning in overtime. A freshman quarter, Tua Tagovailoa, took over for Jalen Hurts, who had been considered a Heisman Trophy candidate all season long, and quickly erased a 13 point deficit. Alabama won on a 42-yard pass to DeVonta Smith, their fifth title in the last 10 seasons.
The run of the Crimson Tide is historic, and Head Coach Nick Saban continues to make this team a favorite for the national title each and every season. However, despite the dominance of the SEC powerhouse, there are other teams that have a good shot of unseating the defending champions. Here is a look at the top six teams and the odds provided by Delaware Park Sportsbook they will be holding the championship trophy come January 2019.
Alabama (+175) – Ok, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that Alabama will likely repeat as National Champions. After all, they have arguably the best coach in college football history in Saban, and they have a quarterback returning who just led his team to an incredible comeback in the biggest game of the year. Oh ya, the Crimson Tide have four players on defense who will likely be a first or second team all Americans and 13 of the top 300 high school players committed to Alabama this season. There is really no reason to bet against the Crimson Tide finding a way to repeat.
Clemson (+600) – Clemson is just a year removed from winning the National Championship and made the playoff last season after crushing the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC Championship game, but they fell to the Crimson Tide 24-6, seeing their hopes of a repeat come to an end. This is a team loaded with returning talent, especially in quarterback Kelly Bryant. The Tigers appeared in the championship game in 2016 and 2017, and it would be no surprise to see them back in it again.
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Ohio State (+700) – After Saban, Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer is widely viewed as the second best head coach in college football. He took his team to the title in 2015 and has a great deal of depth. Last year’s team finished 12-2 but had troubles after falling to Oklahoma early in the season, and never really got as much respect after that. The Buckeyes got better as the season went along and the consensus is that this momentum will carry over into 2018.
Georgia (+750) – the Bulldogs were 30 minutes from their first national title since the 1980s but lost because they simply could not stop the Alabama freshman. However, Georgia proved to be a formidable opponent week in and week out, finishing 13-2, including rolling over Auburn in the SEC title game, 28-7. The major challenge for this team is that the defense is going to have to undergo a major rebuild as more than half of last year’s starters are gone. How the new starters perform is going to be the determining factor.
Michigan (+1600) – if there is one criticism of Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, it is that he does not take his team to the next level. This is a team that should be competing for a national title every year, but they grossly underperformed last season, going 8-5 including losing their last three games or the year – to Wisconsin, Ohio State, and South Carolina. They will have a new starting quarterback this season but have a good running game. There is talent and it will be interesting to see if Harbaugh can finally get a whole different level out of this team.
Wisconsin (+1800) – there is a lot of talk about how the SEC is the best conference in football, but the BIG10 has proven to be as formidable as any and Wisconsin is a great example. The Badgers were undefeated before suffering a tough loss to Ohio State in the BIG10 Championship, but they received little respect from the media during the 2017 season. In fact, some wondered if they would have won the conference if they may have been rejected for the playoffs. This is a team that wins in the traditional way – running and defense – and that just isn’t flashy enough. They return Jonathan Taylor who is the best running back in the country and that should make them a team that a title contender all season.
Washington (+2200) – oh how the mighty have fallen. The PAC-12 is not the same, as USC, UCLA, Colorado, and Utah are not as formidable as they once were. Washington is the team that has looked to change the conversation, but a late-season loss to Stanford cost them a serious shot. This is a team that can score points, and that should continue this season. The question is if they can put up enough defense to make this team a top-tier contender.
No doubt that most will consider Alabama the team to beat this season. Don’t be surprised to see Clemson and Alabama battle in the title game.