If you have been reading VBR for any period of time, there are likely three things that you all know about me. I enjoy college football, gambling, and college football gambling. You also likely noticed that Tim was back running things for a few days the last few days while I took the second of those three traits to the extreme, spending the opening weekend of the basketball tournament out in Las Vegas. While the focus of the sports books was of course on March Madness, I always take a special interest in the college football futures, and who the alleged experts view as the favorites to win it all in the coming season.
Not surprisingly, the
two time defending champion Crimson Tide lead the way at a healthy 5/2, and why wouldn’t they be? They have been the dominant program in the country of late, and have shown a remarkable ability to oversign reload under Nick Saban. Oh, and they have some pretty damn good players coming back, lead by Heisman candidate A.J. McCarron at QB. You may not even be surprised to see who was the consensus second favorite, our conference pals over at Ohio State at 6/1. They return nearly every key piece from last year’s 12-0 team, including their own Heisman candidate at quarterback, Braxton Miller. If you’re looking for my expert opinion (and you really shouldn’t be if you saw my luck at the tables), neither of those would be a bad bet.
But everyone is always most intrigued by the 2nd or 3rd tier teams that could rise up. By which I mean, the teams that can make you, the gambling public, the biggest return on your investment. Louisville comes in at 25/1, and with Teddy Bridgewater back, and a (very) favorable schedule. Perhaps the biggest question for the Cardinals is whether they get enough breaks from other top teams to turn that advantageous, but very weak, schedule into a title game berth. But after seeing what Bridgewater and Louisville did to a very good Florida defense in the Sugar Bowl, they could very well hang with a perceived superior team.
What if you want a long shot to throw a couple bucks at? How about Boise State at 100/1? The schedule comes into play here again, but Boise has been among the most consistent programs in the country for the better part of a decade, and if they get a break or two, much like Louisville, and get to Pasadena, 100/1 doesn’t look so bad.
I’ve also found myself trying to guess where Penn State would fall, were they eligible. I see a team returning several key pieces on the offensive line, and at the skill positions, but losing a record setting QB, their talented leaders on defense, and a schedule that is not exactly prime for a run to the title. Teams like Michigan State, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin all have significant questions to answer, much like PSU, and all three of those programs sit at 100/1 as well. Let’s just slot the Lions in there as well.
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