Last year there was so much talk about Georgia being the team to beat and that they would win the championship. Their defense was excellent and they had the makings to do it. Then all of a sudden, they lost to Alabama in the SEC championship and the narrative shifted to Georgia not being able to close it out. Well, the game came and they put it away, scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter and taking home the title. This year, Alabama starts, once again, as the favorite. Can anyone beat them?
Don’t bet on Alabama to win. Not because they won’t. I actually don’t truly believe anyone will beat them this year, but because the value isn’t there. Do you really want to tie up a bunch of money for four months for less than a 2:1 return? I personally don’t, but yes, I do think they win. And, yes, if you can afford to bet enough on it this might be worth it. But if you’re betting $100 it isn’t worth it. There are few returns in four months that would be better than this if you can put multiple thousands on it.
Who has a realistic shot? In my opinion, almost no one. There are some other plays that are worth mentioning.
Georgia is still a good football team, but at +350 I don’t see value here. They lost 15 players to the NFL draft, which is amazing. But, it leaves a lot of holes to fill. Don’t get me wrong, the program is good, but there should be some adjustments that will likely keep them from even making the final four.
Secondary favorite Ohio State might be worth a shot. I don’t know that you’ll get a better value on them unless they lose a game at some point during the year. It is possible that happens, but I wouldn’t count on it. If you’re going to take someone, this would be worth it at 3:1, you might be able to shop around and find a better number. They likely have the Heismann winner and had an outstanding offense.
Clemson has a shot to at least compete for the title. Sometimes, futures aren’t about winning, they are about hedging opportunities and other chances to take in order to assure yourself some money. Clemson was just 10-3 last year, which for many programs is a great year. For Clemson it was a bit of a disappointment, but I think they can recover. If you’re telling me I have a ticket on them at 8:1 when they are one of the top four teams in the country, I’ll take my shot.
Michigan made it to the final four last season. They ran into the juggernaut that was Georgia, but they made some noise for what seems like the first time under Jim Harbaugh. This year, they could replicate that success, but the Big 10 is going to be a very competitive conference, and you’ve already seen what I think of Ohio State. They obviously are going to struggle a bit with the loss of Hutchinson, but they should still have a strong defense. If they can get Cade McNamara to take a step up and rely less on the ground game, they should compete again for a shot in the playoffs. I don’t think they have what it takes to win the championship though. Right now you can take a 60:1 ticket, you certainly won’t have that value if they make the final four.
Some long shots that I think are worth fractional plays: USC – they have a great quarterback in Caleb Williams, but I’m not sure they will be relevant for the full season. At 20:1, might be worth taking a flyer on them. Texas is a team that I think could surprise people a little bit. I don’t see a ton of challenges on their schedule, as in it is realistic for them to win all but maybe one or two games. Two losses and not a strong enough strength of schedule may keep them out though.
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