In this NCAAF season preview I look at the true chances of the two top teams coming into the season running the table. Is this option one that you should look at with your College Football picks, or is it simply a hole to toss your money in to?
Going undefeated in a college football season was hard before, but since the adoption of the college football playoff it has become even more difficult. With conference championship games, most schools would have to go 15-0 to pull it off - with the last two games being in the new playoff system against arguably the best teams in the country.
There have only been fifteen teams to go undefeated since 2000, with only seven of those teams coming from ‘power conferences’. A loss on the season also doesn’t mean a championship is out of the question in most cases, as six of the last NCAAF champions have had at least one loss on their record by the end of their season. With that in mind let’s take a look at two of the front-runners to end the 2015 season with the title, Alabama and Ohio State, and their chances of running the table. With sportsbooks giving you the option to bet on this result, we decide if either of these teams is worth of being added to your College Football picks.
The problem with playing in the SEC lately for title contenders is similar to the sales pattern of the iPhone and iPod in 2008; eventually there will be cannibalization. Alabama’s schedule is full of land mines, and seven of their twelve regular season games are against foes in the top 25 of the preseason AP poll. Six of those games are against conference opponents, the other being against the Wisconsin Badgers in the season opener in Cowboy’s Stadium. What helps is that five of those opponents will be faced at home or at neutral sites, but not the strongest contenders to foil an undefeated campaign. Preaseason #7 and #9 ranked teams Auburn and Georgia, respectively, will host the Crimson Tide in what could be matchups of undefeated teams in each game. If the Tide goes undefeated in 2015 they will have certainly earned their championship title.
The Big 10 is a much weaker conference than the SEC, but has a team just as good as Alabama, if not better, in Ohio State. Returning most of their starters from the championship campaign last year, the Buckeyes start the season against Virginia Tech, who owned a blemish on the Buckeyes 2014 season. Other than that, the only ranked team in Ohio State’s regular season schedule is Michigan State. In a favorable scheduling instance, the Buckeye’s host the Spartans at home in late November. After that, it’s the luck of the draw for their conference championship game, and of course, any playoff foe they face. Depth at important positions is a feature of this team, the most publicly known of course being the quarterback position. With one athletic QB, Braxton Miller, going to wide receiver, they now have found a way to get more playmakers on the field at the same time. Standout running back from last year’s championship game against Oregon, Ezekiel Elliot, should be a Heisman favorite.
Although sitting at #1 and #2 in ESPN’s preseason power rankings, the paths these two teams must take to attain a perfect season are vastly different. That is why they have the listed College Football odds of winning out at 22.6% for Ohio State and 0.9% for Alabama. I’d have to agree with these odds after looking at the Alabama schedule, and I think that the SEC will be hard pressed to produce a team with only one loss. Up until their big matchup with Michigan State, the Buckeyes should be blowing people out with the only question lingering being motivation against lower level teams. If they get past that game against Sparty undefeated, it will come down to their matchup in the playoffs to determine if they can run the table.