As the calendar turns to August, college football is officially under a month away. Which of the nation’s top teams will run the gauntlet this year and be crowned the National Champion in 2013? Here’s a look at ten of the most likely contenders to win it all this season.
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USC joins LSU and Alabama in the chalk category
Once Matt Barkley decided to return for the 2013 season instead of entering the NFL draft, the USC Trojans were immediately considered a <a href="http://sports.bovada.lv/sports-betting/football-futures.jsp" alt="Odds to Win the Nation Championship">favorite to win the National Championship</a>. With Stanford losing Andrew Luck and many other valuable seniors and the Oregon game at USC this year, the Pac-12 looks to be USC’s for the taking. After poaching star running back Silas Redd from Penn State, USC now looks even better, and is the clear favorite heading into the season at 13/4 to win it all.
After finishing the regular season a perfect 13-0 last season, the LSU Tigers fell short in the national championship as they lost 21-0 to the Alabama Crimson Tide. LSU enters the season 4/1 to get revenge this season, and they have the key SEC West showdown against Alabama at home this year. LSU’s three-headed rushing monster of Michael Ford, Spencer Ware, and Alfred Blue all return this season, and should wear down opposing defenses all year long.
The defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide (6/1) have lost some key contributors on both sides of the ball (including star running back Trent Richardson), but it is hard to bet against Nick Saban when it comes to player development and recruiting. Saban’s Tide defense will once again be among the best in the nation, and Alabama will look to win its third title in the last four years.
Other contenders hoping to crack Top 2 by season’s end
Last year, the Florida State Seminoles were a popular dark horse pick to win the ACC and potentially more, but a disastrous three-game losing streak early in the year put those dreams out of reach. Now, one year removed from the hype and with a valuable year of experience under QB EJ Manuel and RB Devonta Freeman’s belts, Florida State looks like the best team in the ACC, and could provide some value at 15/2 to win it all.
The Oklahoma Sooners (10/1) coughed up their title shot with an ugly loss to Texas Tech last season, just like they blew it in 2010 against Missouri. With Landry Jones at the helm, the Sooners clearly have national championship talent on both sides of the ball and should own the Big 12; will this finally be the season that they avoid that landmine game?
USC is the runaway favorite in the Pac-12, but don’t count out the three-time defending conference champion Oregon Ducks (12/1). D’Anthony Thomas is even faster than his predecessor LaMichael James, and the Ducks don’t have any scary out-of-conference games scheduled this year. The Ducks are one upset of USC away from potentially shooting up the polls into the Top 2, where they’d be going off at much worse than 12/1.
Other teams that could be in the mix
The SEC has churned out six straight national champions, making the Georgia Bulldogs (18/1) and the Arkansas Razorbacks (30/1) very difficult to ignore at their current odds. Arkansas returns a loaded roster including quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis from a team that finished 11-2 last year, losing only to LSU and Alabama. They get both those games at home this year. As for Georgia, QB Aaron Murray returns, and the Bulldogs avoid all three of Arkansas, LSU, and Alabama during the regular season; setting the table for a potential undefeated run into the SEC Championship.
After two straight disappointing seasons, many have written off the Texas Longhorns (20/1); but the school is just three years removed from annual dominance and a national title appearance in 2009. Mack Brown still recruits with the best of them, and a bounce-back season isn’t out of the question for the Longhorns.
Led by superstar quarterback Denard Robinson and coming off an excellent 11-2 season with a win in the Sugar Bowl, Michigan would be going off at a lot lower than 30/1 if not for a daunting meeting with Alabama on the docket to start the season. However, if the Wolverines can pull off the upset, or run the table for the rest of the year, they could be the surprise team of 2013.
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