2023 College Football National Championship odds & predictions: Can this +8000 longshot shock everyone?
The 2022 college football season is finally on the horizon. The battle for a spot in the College Football Playoff begins on August 27 and won’t slow down until December. Last season’s national championship saw Georgia knock off Alabama to claim its first title since 1980. Could we see that matchup again come January? It’s certainly possible.
With the offseason chaos in the rearview mirror, it’s time to discuss the futures market for the national championship. This is a pretty short market at the top, which makes looking into a longshot an attractive option. Let’s take a look at the odds and best bets to make before the season starts.
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NCAAF National Championship odds
Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing
Ohio State (+300)
Texas A&M (+2500)
Notre Dame (+6000)
CFB National Championship contenders
It’s not surprising to see Alabama at the top of the national title odds board once again. The Crimson Tide fell just short a season ago and bring back quarterback Bryce Young, along with a slew of talent on both sides of the ball. The expectation under a Nick Saban-coached team is always “championship or bust”, and I don’t expect that to change this year. However, there is simply no value at the current price. Alabama’s schedule is fairly difficult this season, with games at Texas, Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU and Arkansas. The Crimson Tide will also host Texas A&M in what should be a hotly-contested showdown.
The defending champions lost a lot of talent from their all-world defense a season ago, but Georgia is still an elite team. Stetson Bennett returns at quarterback, and he’ll have a strong offensive line, running game and outside weapons around him. The Bulldogs play in a weak SEC East, meaning that their road to an SEC championship game will be easier than Alabama’s. However, the Crimson Tide may end up having the edge on defense in that matchup, to go along with their clear advantage at the QB position.
I’m a full believer in the concept of “buying low” on a team that struggled a season ago. But I’m not sure that one offseason is going to fix Clemson’s alarming issues on offense, particularly at quarterback. It remains to be seen if DJ Uiagalelei can turn things around, while the Tigers’ offensive line needs to improve. If there is a saving grace for Clemson, it’s that the Tigers play in a weak ACC. Clemson’s defense is loaded once again, and that should be enough to carry them to regular-season wins. But let me see Uiagalelei in a game where he needs to consistently succeed throwing the ball, and then we can talk national title.
National Championship best bet: Ohio State (+300)
As soon as the national championship odds were posted, I immediately grabbed Ohio State at 8/1. And while this 3/1 price point is the lowest I would go, the Buckeyes still have value at the current number. It all starts with CJ Stroud. As a true freshman, Stroud came on strong toward the end of last year, showing his potential for a dominant campaign in 2022. Now in his second year as a starter, Stroud should build on his 4,400 yards and 44 touchdown showing in 2021.
Around him is an embarrassment of riches on offense. TreVeyon Henderson will lead the rushing attack, while Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison Jr. stretch opposing defenses on the outside. But the biggest improvement for Ohio State could come on the defensive end, with the hiring of ex-Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. If the Buckeyes can get consistently solid performances from their defense, the sky is the limit for this group.
Can CJ Stroud live up to the hype? Check out our Heisman Trophy best bets!
National Championship longshot bet: Utah (+8000)
Last season’s Rose Bowl game was an exciting back-and-forth affair, ultimately resulting in an Ohio State victory. This year, I think it’s quite possible that we see a rematch of that game in the College Football Playoff. After fighting off a tumultuous start last year, Utah turned to Cam Rising at quarterback and the team responded. The Utes finished the season on a tear en route to a PAC-12 title and Kyle Whittingham’s bunch should be even better this fall. Whittingham has built a model of consistency in Salt Lake City. You know what you are going to get from Utah every season, and that’s winning.
Rising could be the best quarterback to play the position at Utah. But the rest of the offense is built around a dominant offensive line and running game. Additionally, the Utes should field an experienced defense, particularly in the front seven. With the biggest game of the season against USC coming at home, Utah should get back to the PAC-12 championship game. The Utes are currently sitting behind Michigan, Notre Dame, USC and Texas A&M. Don’t be surprised if they’ve eclipsed those teams by November.