College football embarks on a new four-team playoff era, which has many handicappers scrambling to figure out the programs that’ll be represented in hopes of hoisting championship trophy in January.
Alabama Crimson Tide (+679)
It’s almost a guarantee that the Southeastern Conference will have at least one representative in the field, which is important to consider when looking at the NCAA football future odds, as it captured the most national titles during the BCS era.
Alabama must find a new leader on offense with AJ McCarron moving on to the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals, but three of the last four champions have had a first-year quarterback.
Florida State transfer quarterback Jake Coker is expected to earn the job under new coordinator Lane Kiffin, as both will find ways to get the ball in the hands of perhaps the most talented backfield in the country.
Junior running back T.J. Yeldon is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate after averaging six yards per carry and scoring 14 touchdowns last season.
A major threat in this category, especially with Nick Saban being one of only four coaches to win four titles in the modern era.
Florida State Seminoles (+339)
Winning back-to-back championships is difficult in any sport, but this program is certainly capable of accomplishing the feat, as it led the country in scoring offense and defense a year ago.
Twelve players return for 2014 from the 2013 Coaches All-ACC First or Second Team Offense, with seven of those players ready to suit up in Tallahassee, including signal-caller Jameis Winston.
Winston set national freshman records for touchdown passes (40) and passing yards (4,057) en route to consensus All-America honors in addition to the Heisman.
Complacency is always a concern in this situation, but fifth year head coach Jimbo Fisher benefits from playing Clemson and Florida at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Ohio State Buckeyes (+974)
The Buckeyes are going to be one of the top betting picks to win it all, as they try to capture their eighth national championship in school history in the third year of the Urban Meyer era.
Meyer has produced a dominating 24-2 straight-up record during his time in Columbus, while his .837 win percentage is the best of any active coach with at least 10 years of experience.
Senior quarterback Braxton Miller returns to lead an offense that set Big Ten Conference records for most rushing yards (4,321), and shattered school records for points scored (637).
Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell will have a lot of flexibility this season with every lineman returning from a unit that registered a combined 53 tackles for loss and 31 quarterback sacks in 2013.
UCLA Bruins (+1800)
College football experts are expecting the Bruins to meet up with the Oregon Ducks in the 2014 Pac-12 Conference Championship game, but I’m expecting quarterback Brett Hundley & Co. to produce an upset in that matchup in landing one of the four spots for the major prize.
Hundley ranks third in school history with 7,914 yards of total offense, as he’s one of eight returning offensive starters, while senior running back Jordan James will provide balance on that side of the football.
Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Myles Jack is expected to focus more on his play at linebacker this season—after spending time on both sides of the ball in 2013.
The winning team from both the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will meet up in the final game of the season at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, and I believe UCLA will outlast the competition.
Bruins third year head coach Jim Mora has brought in a ton of talent to Westwood—helped by the fact that the USC Trojans have been under NCAA sanctions during his time on campus.
Hundley will take the next step in production now that the offensive line is experienced, and the defense has a plethora of playmakers.