Florida State are the betting favorite to repeat as national champions, but they’ll face a major challenge due to the new college football playoff format. Here are five teams sports bettors should start handicapping to win the Championship Game.
Florida State Seminoles (+324)
All eyes will be on Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston, who needs to stay out of trouble after shoplifting crab legs in April, but the program is a legitimate favorite to win it all for a second consecutive season.
The Seminoles will welcome back seven starters on each side of the football, including four offensive linemen that have combined to start 113 games during their time in Tallahassee.
Florida State is the only school to win a bowl game in each of the last six seasons, which includes a perfect 4-0 mark under head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Alabama Crimson Tide (+652)
The program is hoping that Florida State transfer quarterback Jacob Coker is up to the challenge of replacing AJ McCarron, who was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Alabama’s offense will have a new look with first-year coordinator Lane Kiffin calling the plays, while the defense will once again be in the trusted hands of Kirby Smart.
If Coker proves to be a capable signal-caller, the Crimson Tide are capable of landing one of four spots in the playoff format, but they’ll have to get by LSU on the road and Auburn at home in November.
Oklahoma Sooners (+1020)
The Sooners are always going to be talked about nationally, considering their nine AP Top 10 finishes since 2000 leads all programs over that span.
Oklahoma welcomes back 48 lettermen, which includes 95.6 percent of its passing yards due to the return of quarterback Trevor Knight. He also ranked third in the Big 12 in averaging 6.6 yards per carry.
Handicappers will also gain confidence in backing the Sooners in the college football futures market due to their 87-5 home record under head coach Bob Stoops.
Ohio State Buckeyes (+1247)
The Buckeyes have averaged 278 rushing yards per game in the first two years under head coach Urban Meyer, with quarterback Braxton Miller playing an important role in that success.
Miller is one of 13 returning starters, but Ohio State lost four upperclassmen on the offensive line—a group that combined for 135 starts.
On the defensive side of the ball, the program welcomes back every lineman from a 2013 unit that registered 53 tackles for loss and 31 quarterback sacks.
UCLA Bruins (+1733)
The Bruins belong in this discussion of winning it all due to the return of quarterback Brett Hundley, who ranks third in school history with 7,914 yards of total offense and fourth in passing yards with 6,811.
UCLA plays a challenging schedule, but third-year head coach Jim Mora will welcome in Oregon, USC and Stanford to the Rose Bowl.
Arizona State (+5179)
Boise State (+31059)
Boston College (+51764)
Georgia Tech (+31059)
Kansas State (+7767)
Miami, FL (+8286)
Michigan State (+2590)
Mississippi State (+15532)
North Carolina (+10356)
Notre Dame (+6215)
Oklahoma State (+6215)
Ole Miss (+5179)
Oregon State (+31059)
South Carolina (+4642)
South Carolina (+4642)
Texas A&M (+6733)
Texas Tech (+20707)
Virginia Tech (+10356)
West Virginia (+41411)