The college football season is rapidly closing in upon us, and there are a number of teams who have championship aspirations. Of course, the usual suspects are expected to be fighting for the title such as Clemson and Alabama.
However, teams such as Georgia, Ohio State, and Michigan should also be taken into consideration. They believe they’ll be hoisting that trophy in January.
Here are the teams that oddsmakers expect to be battling for the championship. (Their odds of winning the title are listed in parentheses.)
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Truthfully, why wouldn’t Clemson be expected to repeat? Not only are they coming off an impressive victory in the national title game last year, but have their star quarterback returning.
Trevor Lawrence (3,280 yards passing, 65.2 completion percentage, 30 TDs, 4 INTs) will be a sophomore and is likely to be even better than what we saw in his freshman season.
On the offensive side of the ball, Clemson has everything you could want. They have two outstanding receivers in Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, and an impressive group of running backs. The offensive line is deep and strong.
The Tigers did lose key players from their defense last season, but the firepower of this offense will give time for the defense to gel. By late October, this team is going to be a machine.
As worthy as Clemson is of repeating, no one can leave Alabama out of the mix. After all, they have appeared in the last four college football championship games, winning two of them.
The 2018 Crimson Tide had a lot of challenges on defense, but an unreal offense under the direction of Tua Tagovailoa (3,966, 69.0%, 43 TDs, 6 INTs) was able to mask those deficiencies.
The offense has some key pieces to replace, especially Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris. However, they have a solid group of running backs that should help the Tide to roll once again.
The defense should be significantly better. The back seven should make it difficult for teams to try to throw and their linebackers and defensive backs can support the run as well.
There are a number of blue-chip prospects on both sides of the ball, making it so that Alabama will clearly be in the hunt for another national title.
Georgia had a daunting task last season. After reaching the national title game following the 2017 season, they lost 30 key performers. That was too much to ask and made a return to the national championship game unlikely.
However, this is a deep group, and they have one of the best young quarterbacks in college football in Junior Jake Fromm (2,761, 67.4%, 30 TDs, 6 INTs). Add to it a group of solid performers in the backfield led by D’Andre Swift (1,049 yards rushing, 10 TDs), and the Bulldogs should have no problem moving the ball.
Georgia added a group of blue-chip prospects to their defense, especially interior linebacker Nolan Smith. They may not be able to surpass Alabama for the SEC title, but still, have a very good shot of reaching the playoffs.
Ohio State (+950)
There was a lot of talk that Ohio State would not be as good after Urban Meyer retired. For Big10 fans, let us be the first to say you’re dreaming if you thought that was the reality.
The Buckeyes will have Georgia transfer Justin Fields leading the offense. He will have an incredible set of targets, including J.K. Dobbins (1,053 yards rushing, 263 receiving, 12 total touchdowns), DeMario McCall (9 receptions, 110 yards), and Master Teague. This team is going to move the ball.
The defense may be all that holds this team back. They were ranked 71st in the nation last season. That doesn’t bode well for a team with national title aspirations. However, the team hired Greg Mattison to help solidify this defense.
If Ohio State is going to make a title run, it is going to depend on how quickly they adjust to the new offensive system. The Buckeyes only real test early on will be on September 28 against Nebraska.
If they can get past that game, that will mean the team will have over a month to blossom before taking on Michigan State. If they are undefeated at that point, this team may not lose again.
Michigan took a hit early on in 2018 when they lost to Notre Dame in the opening contest of the season. However, this was a team that was in the national championship picture all the way until the end of the season when they were dominated by Ohio State.
That perpetuated a stereotype in the Jim Harbaugh era, where the Wolverines lose those big games, those season-defining games.
Oddsmakers believe things are going to be different this year. They seem to believe that this year’s Michigan team will be different than those of years past. The expectation is that quarterback Shea Patterson (2,600, 64.6%, 22 TDs, 7 INTs) will be much better this season.
He has a talented group of young freshmen behind him and an offensive line that should provide a great deal of protection, but how well he gels with new coordinator Josh Gattis is going to say a lot about how well this team performs.
There is a lot of talent to replace on defense, and that doesn’t give Patterson much time to adjust to a new offensive system. Oddsmakers seem to believe that this is a team vying for a national title. We just don’t see it.
The Best of the Rest
Here are the odds for the remaining teams who could have a shot at winning the national championship.