As usual, the top of the college football odds list for 2015 is populated by chalky teams and public favorites. Which of these teams is least likely to win the title this season?
There's no such thing as too much football. NCAAF odds have already been released the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, and the top of the list features the usual suspects: Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, yadda yadda. These teams will draw plenty of action from their loyal fans. But should the rest of us be putting these public darlings in our college football picks?
As always, the magic answer: It depends. College football tends to be a bit more dynastic than the pro game, with stable coaching regimes making up for the quick turnover of, ahem, “student-athletes.” But some programs are more stable than others. Let's sort through the current Top 10 on the NCAAF futures market at Bovada and see which teams are least likely to succeed this year.
First off, here are the 10 teams in question as we go to press:
All right, make that 13 teams. Given these college football odds, we should naturally expect the longest shots (Georgia, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oregon) to have the smallest chance of winning the title. But that's not the point here. What we're trying to do is isolate the worst picks in terms of value, and right away, we have to point our fickle fingers at Florida State.
The Seminoles are already coming off a season where they went 13-1 SU and 3-11 ATS. Was anyone surprised when they got drilled 59-20 by Oregon (–7.5) in the College Football Playoff semifinals? This team was a mouthful of chalk waiting to happen. Now the 'Noles have to replace not only QB Jameis Winston, but a ton of other talented players on both sides of the ball. While Florida State could still win the ACC title, just getting into the CFP seems overly optimistic at this point.
Having said that, we feel even worse about Auburn's chances this year. The Tigers (8-5 SU, 4-9 ATS in 2014) have gotten plenty of offseason buzz heading into Year Three under head coach Gus Malzahn. From a longer-term standpoint, we're on board. His hurry-up offense is a thing of beauty, and new defensive co-ordinator Will Muschamp is one of the best in the business.
But the short term looks a bit rocky for the Tigers. Like the Seminoles, Auburn has a lot of holes to fill this year, especially on offense with RBs Cameron Artis-Payne (5.3 yards per carry) and Corey Grant (6.1 yards per carry) turning pro. If that weren't difficult enough, Auburn's road to the title goes through Alabama at the Iron Bowl. Tough gig.
Touched by the Hand of Fraud
We can't say we're too big on Notre Dame's chances, either. The situation isn't quite as shaky in South Bend, and the Fighting Irish (8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS) are only 18-1, but they've got enough question marks on the offensive line to make us concerned. Head coach Brian Kelly also admitted recently that his players were still at-risk academically, after five of them were suspended last year as part of a fraud investigation. That's not good.
If we were going to recommend a team on this list, it might be the Baylor Bears. They went 11-2 (7-5-1 ATS) last year with Bryce Petty at quarterback; this year, the onus is on Seth Russell to whip up some magic, and Russell has every chance of performing well under head coach Art Briles. The tricky part will be getting into the College Football Playoff. Sharing the Big 12 title with TCU again won't be enough for the Selection Committee.