College Football Betting

NCAA Football Championship Odds: Alabama Favored to Retain

Nick Saban has a pretty good thing going in Tuscaloosa. Since he took over the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007, Saban has won five national titles, adding to the championship he won as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003. His latest masterpiece: a thrilling 26-23 overtime win over the Georgia Bulldogs at last month’s National Championship Game. The Tide failed to cover as 5-point favorites, but they pulled off an amazing comeback for the victory after Saban replaced starting quarterback Jalen Hurts with freshman back-up Tua Tagovailoa during the second half.

The National Championship odds are already out for 2018, and as usual, Saban’s program is sitting on top of the pile. The Crimson Tide are +200 favorites to retain their title, well ahead of the three teams tied in second at +700: Georgia, the Clemson Tigers, and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The future looks bright for ‘Bama, but with expectations this high, they might not be the best pick on the college football futures market.

Fields Leads Class of 2018 for Georgia

It’s hard to find fault in what the Bulldogs (13-2 SU, 11-4 ATS) managed to accomplish last year. And after coming within a whisker of beating Alabama, head coach Kirby Smart and lead recruiter Dell McGee have assembled not only the consensus top-ranked Class of 2018 but one of the greatest crops of freshmen ever. At the head of the class: quarterback Justin Fields, the No. 1 prospect in the nation. Fields is a dual-threat quarterback with a tremendous arm and poise in the pocket. Scouts say he’s the best they’ve seen in years.

Saban and the Crimson Tide (13-1 SU, 6-8 ATS) have the No. 2-ranked recruiting class for 2018, with a lean towards defense – cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. was a big catch on Wednesday (aka National Signing Day) after it was assumed he’d sign with LSU. But Alabama’s odds to win NCAA championship glory are super-short for two reasons: One, the betting public is in love with the Tide, and two, Tagovailoa looks like an upgrade over Hurts, even if he has only 77 pass attempts under his belt.

Don’t Forget Clemson

It wasn’t that long ago when Clemson (12-2 SU, 8-5-1 ATS) was beating the Crimson Tide for the National Championship. They took a small step back last year, losing to Alabama in the CFP semifinals. Kelly Bryant did an admirable job at quarterback after DeShaun Watson turned pro, and Clemson was solid against the NCAA football odds on a game-per-game basis. But can they get back to the National Championship Game? Clemson has this year’s No. 6-ranked recruiting class, with four five-star prospects including yet another blue-chip quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, a 6-foot-6 pocket passer with a live arm and brains to match.

Ohio State (12-2 SU, 7-7 ATS) didn’t quite make the playoffs last year, but they’ve been a fixture at or near the top of the college football odds list for decades. Head coach Urban Meyer and his right-hand man, Greg Schiano, have put together a recruiting class that rivals Alabama’s. Depth is key here, with 21 four-star prospects and one five-star offensive tackle: 6-foot-5, 265-pound Nicholas Petit-Frere, whose last name, ironically enough, is French for “Little Brother.”

Wolverines Lurking in the Weeds

On paper, these four teams look very much like a CFP foursome. But there are two Big Ten programs knocking on the National Championship door: the Michigan Wolverines (8-5 SU, 5-7-1 ATS) at +1400, and the Penn State Nittany Lions (11-2 SU, 8-4-1 ATS) at +1600. Last year was a rebuilding year for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines; their Class of 2018 barely cracked the Top 20, but former Mississippi Rebels starting quarterback Shea Patterson is making the move to Ann Arbor, and may be eligible to play right away. Penn State has this year’s No. 4-ranked recruiting class, as the program continues to make positive strides under head coach James Franklin. Can either team keep up in this incredibly competitive conference?

It’s another step down the NCAAF futures market before you get to familiar names like the Oklahoma Sooners (+2500), the Wisconsin Badgers (+2500) and the Florida State Seminoles (+2800). But as we see just about every year, someone manages to break free from the pack and challenge the top contenders; last year, it was the Sooners reaching the CFP and nearly beating Georgia in the semis. We’ll see who has the right stuff this time around, starting with the first “spring” practices later this month.


*Odds as of February 12, 2018