We are growing ever closer to the sweat time of the year when colleges around the country roll out their top tier athletes to engage in combat on the grid iron for the coveted college football title. While there are a few months still separating us from week one. Brennen and I are here to bring you the favorites, dark horses and our playoff picks.
Brennen With The Favorites To Bet On - Alabama and USC
Alabama (odds+275)- Unlike what most Big 10 fans would like to think, Alabama is not going to fall from grace anytime soon. One thing that the Crimson Tide has always done really well is fill gaps left by graduating seniors. This can be seen with the multitude of power backs that the Crimson Tide has had in the past. Nick Saban has also mentioned multiple times that he recruits based on athleticism. So do not be surprised if we another O.J. Howard within the next few years. The Crimson Tide are also returning some pretty valuable starters. Quarterback Jalen Hurts looked more comfortable in the pocket during the spring game. Which was one of his issues last season especially late in the championship game.
Balancing the offense was a focus for Alabama, after ranking 87th in passing (210 yards a game) . Although if the ground attack from running back Bo Scarbrough can be what it was last year, that shouldn’t be a problem. A successful run game should be able to open opportunities to get receiver Calvin Ridley a few more looks downfield. Also coming off of a tough loss in the championship, Alabama has a lot to prove this season to show they are still on top. The Crimson Tide might not have the team they did last year, but it’s hard to count out the genius of Nick Saban.
USC Trojans (odds +700)- Having a nine game turnaround at the end of the season with a freshman quarterback is a very reassuring feeling. The Trojans brought back glimpses from 2005 this past season, capping it off with a postseason victory. The NCAA is more exciting when a PAC-12 team is having a great year, and USC definitely has the potential. Sam Darnold has already proven that he’s cool under pressure and can handle tough competition.
The Trojans are losing a few crucial offensive linemen, which could be tough for a young quarterback. But Darnold’s numbers from last season showed that he excels in on the run situations. Losing cornerback Adoree’ Jackson takes away some playmaking from the defense and special teams. Also two losses from the receiving corps will send USC looking for some new targets. But when you have a Heisman candidate who threw for over 30 touchdowns in nine games at the helm, you can expect to have a decent year.
Colton With The Dark Horses To Bet On - LSU and Louisville
All these teams have some piece of the roster that really shines and creates problems for their opponent. The difference between these teams and others is that they are exceptional at one thing, above average at another, and all have one key player returning.
For LSU their strength is defense, boasting a top 10 defense five times in the last six years. Arden Key is a returning keystone to a defense that has five players coming back on that side, 11 starters coming back in total. There second imposing asset is their running game, which helped Fournette run to stardom and now has Derrius Guice trouncing opposing defensive lines, since he was filling in for the previous workhorse, with four games that he posted under 10 carries but still rushing for 1,387 yards. Between the defense and Guice on the ground, the same team that made Louisville look silly in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is what makes this team deadly this season. As a +2200 bet or 20/1, this squad looks ready to roll.
At 20/1 and another +2200, Louisville is an outside shot with a Heisman quarterback. Lamar Jackson and company looked truly impressive all season long, highlighted by their tight loss to the Clemson on the road. The offense is keeping most of their key players and with Jackson adding yet another year on the belt this team’s future looks bright. They also make a nice bet because of Clemson losing DeShaun Watson, most of the receiver corps and a big portion of their defensive front seven. Jackson has only the FSU team he trounced by 20 points to win the conference and maybe take the college crown.
Last Call -
Colton - For my picks I take #1 Alabama (+275), #2 USC (+700), #Penn State (+1400), #4 LSU (+2200). Two quarterbacks that faced off in the Rose Bowl head to the playoff, and the SEC is the first conference in the history of the the College Football Playoff to send two teams.
Brennen - #1 Alabama (+275), #2 USC (+700), #3 FSU (+700), #4 Ohio State (+600). Up and coming quarterbacks that had a year to sharpen their teeth young will be the flavor of the playoffs. The Buckeyes still have a shot because of the programs bounce back ability.
All betting number provided by Las Vegas Bookie and Bovada.