The Big Ten hasn’t won a National Championship since Ohio State in 2015, and that represents the conference’s only title since 2002. No team in the conference other than Ohio State has won a National Championship since the Michigan Wolverines in 1997.
Both OSU and Michigan saw their forecasts get a little sunnier in the updated 2020 CFP odds, though. While the three main favorites – Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia – all stagnated, the Buckeyes and Wolverines got a little shorter. Here’s where the odds currently stand at Bovada.
2020 CFP National Championship Odds: Big Ten Teams
Ohio State is still above Michigan in the odds, but the vacuum Urban Meyer left may signal a further rise in the coming weeks for Harbaugh’s team.
It’s hard to justify the Buckeyes’ odds getting shorter at this point in the offseason; they lost key players to the NFL draft, including DE Nick Bosa, QB Dwayne Haskins, and much of their starting offense, and Ryan Day only has a handful of games under his belt as a head coach.
Yes, Ohio State has more than dominated the Wolverines recently, winning seven straight games and 14 of the last 15 meetings between the two, and Day, personally, doesn’t seem concerned about their chances against Michigan:
When asked whether he planned to make any changes from how Urban Meyer approached the Michigan game, Ryan Day answered without hesitation, “No. That worked.”
But I can’t cosign a team that is this untested at odds this short.
Michigan Offense Under New Management
There’s a decent amount of hype around the 2019 Wolverines based on their on-paper strength.
Big Ten football preseason poll from @clevelanddotcom: Michigan predicted to win the Big Ten in a vote of 34 writers from around the conference. Ohio State’s run as the preseason favorite ends. Nebraska picked win the West. https://t.co/B42Az2LskW
Of course, Harbaugh is still winless against OSU. Is there reason to expect that to change?
What is different this year (beyond Meyer’s departure from Columbus) is that Harbaugh is relinquishing control over the offensive system and putting it in new coordinator Josh Gattis’ hands. This is now a run-based offense instead of a ball-possession attack. That should prove more effective given their personnel.
If you are going to bet on any Big Ten team, Michigan is a better play than Ohio State. It’s all or nothing for Harbaugh. The Buckeyes obviously have the potential, as well, but don’t have as much riding on this.
But note that I said if you’re going to bet on a Big Ten team, which leaves open the question: should you bet on a Big Ten team?
I can answer that with a scant five letters: No. SEC.
SEC Continues to Be Annoying
Look, I’d love to say that the SEC era is over, but it’s not. I am an Alabama fan (don’t @ me) and I’m annoyed by the monotony, but Saban is coming in hot for the CFP Title.
What Alabama's Nick Saban said at SEC Media Days 2019 - YouTube
Saban is mad and when Saban is mad, he can be unstoppable:
We had a lot of guys who wanted to be head coaches at different places. It takes a special person to stay focused on what they have to do now when they have a job somewhere else that’s awaiting them and they have a responsibility on staffs. – Nick Saban
Here is the bottom line: Saban will be on a laser-focused mission to avenge the team’s 2019 loss to Clemson. The battle for the title will be fought and won in the South. I’m not even proud of that, I’m bored.
Don’t bet on any Big Ten team to win, especially at the new, shortened odds. It’s a lovely thought that the 2020 title game won’t be another Tide-vs-Tiger battle, but if you want to waste some money, you can PayPal it to me instead.
Much like the CFP odds, the Heisman odds favor Clemson (Trevor Lawrence) and Alabama (Tua Tagovailoa)
Quarterbacks have dominated the award, with all but three winners since 2000 being signal callers
That’s good for Ehlinger and his backers
The summer of 2019 is proving to be no different from recent history for Texas: as July and August come and go, expectations for the Longhorns rise, fairly or not.
More times than not, that manifests itself in win total projections — or, in this year’s case, Sporting News picking the Longhorns to make the College Football Playoff, finally unseating Red River rival Oklahoma.
The Longhorn love this summer feels a little more justifiable than previous years due to the events of Jan. 1: Bevo got the quick upper hand on Uga then the football Longhorns followed suit on the football Bulldogs, ultimately winning the Sugar Bowl 28-21.
Ehlinger was the game’s MVP and emphatically declared Texas “back” as he accepted that honor.
The MVP honor was well earned: completing 70 percent of his passes (19-for-27), running for three touchdowns, and protecting a lead with two drives of longer than five minutes in the fourth quarter. But Ehlinger would not be the first to ride a big bowl performance into Heisman hype, just to fall well short of the stage in New York.
Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold was the darling of the offseason between 2016 and 2017, after throwing for 453 yards and five touchdowns in a Rose Bowl-win over Penn State. Darnold did not get a single Heisman vote the ensuing December, falling behind not only finalist Lamar Jackson and winner Baker Mayfield, but also behind Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph and UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton.
Granted, Ehlinger probably has more numbers-boosting teammates than some of his bowl-to-bust predecessors.
Ehlinger Won’t Be a Lone Star
Ehlinger can no longer turn to his best receiver and the team’s best name, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, but he does have two senior receivers in Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay, both of whom went over 500 yards last season.
Athlon had two Longhorns on its First Team All-Big 12 offensive line, Zack Shackelford and Samuel Cosmi, plus Georgia Tech transfer Parker Braun.
That line could improve what was an underwhelming running back position for the Longhorns, but it could also help Ehlinger push above the 482 rushing yards he had last year.
Twice in three years, the Heisman winner has been a quarterback who ran for over 1,000 yards, so an improved offensive line, which both opens more space for runs and limits sacks, would give Ehlinger a more sound statistical case.
If nothing else, Ehlinger should have no shortage of so-called Heisman moments. Texas will command attention thanks to lofty preseason projections, and if the Longhorns live up to them — collecting wins over LSU and Oklahoma, among others — Ehlinger is likely to be lifted to the national limelight, possibly all the way to the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
All told, the lack of defensive prowess in the Big 12 and the playmaking options on the Texas offense give Ehlinger plenty of opportunity to build a Heisman Trophy resumé statistically. All he has to do now is win the games, have Texas on the brink of the Playoff to justify the chatter.
In that sense, Texas’ Playoff hopes and Ehlinger’s Heisman hopes likely go hand-in-hand, and I think you should bet accordingly.
In the Alabama-Clemson era, longshots have been particularly long, and 2019 likely won’t be different
As if it isn’t hard enough to topple giants in the College Football Playoff, many contenders have tough paths to make the playoff in the first place
Maybe the Pac 12 can make the field this year?
Since the advent of the College Football Playoff (CFP), this has been Alabama and Clemson’s world and the rest of the sport is living in it. Only two of the CFP’s 15 games to date has not included one of the two, and three of its five national championship games have featured the Tigers and the Crimson Tide against each other.
With Oklahoma’s well-timed excellence producing three playoff berths and Ohio State claiming two more, it’s been difficult for the rest of the nation to just crash the playoff party, much less be the one that survives it. Yet, six weeks from now, a small group of contenders will start their seasons determined to be the ones that change the course of the sport’s recent history.
Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma have proven their ability to go toe-to-toe with the best once they get a playoff bid. For the rest of the field, the 2020 National Championship odds— and the circumstances surrounding those odds — show the Herculean nature of the task ahead.
Contenders Get No Help
The sharp drop-off from +220 to +900 shows how little faith there is in the rest of the sport. Those teams on the outside looking in aren’t necessarily afforded the path of least resistance.
Michigan, for example, has to travel to Wisconsin and Penn State, plus host Notre Dame — all while finding new defensive stars and taking in a new offensive approach under Josh Gattis. LSU and Texas have had enough trouble getting past their in-division juggernauts (Alabama and Oklahoma), and this year one of them will put the other on life support with the Week 2 game in Austin.
First player to lead @oregonfootball in tackles in three different seasons since 1992. 💪
LSU could also be the doom of Auburn — if Auburn isn’t already unraveled by a schedule that includes the SEC East’s best (Georgia and Florida), the usual SEC West gauntlet and Oregon to start.
All of that being the case, this may be the year the Pac 12 can make up for missing the previous two playoffs by posing a serious threat.
West Coast Contenders
There’s a reason Washington and Oregon are the only West Coast schools shorter than +10000 in the odds: they’re the only realistic shots.
Washington is the proven commodity, in that the Huskies have been the class of the Pac 12 for a few years and Chris Peterson teams are nothing if not consistent. The hope in Seattle is former Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason can take the Huskies to new heights in Jake Browning’s wake, but there is an obvious barrier: recruiting.
Average Recruiting Ranking Last Three Seasons
247 Sports Composite Rankings
What the national champions of this decade (Alabama, Clemson, Florida State and Ohio State) have in common is they all recruited at an elite level. Washington — by Peterson’s design — has not, and in a sport that is so often ruled by precedent, betting against it doesn’t seem like the right move, even when a longshot is the intended target.
Oregon, however, has recruited at that level in its brief time under Mario Cristobal. The most recent recruiting class, ranked seventh nationally in the 247 Sports Composite, got new defensive coordinator Andy Avalos highly-rated help on the defensive line and some new weapons for quarterback Justin Herbert.
While risky to place too much hope on those freshmen reinforcements at wide receiver and defensive line, the projected talent level is at least comparable to what Alabama, Clemson and select others have stacked their rosters with for years.
All told, college football has not been a longshot sport for close to five years now, and the last three have done nothing but reinforce that concept. But if inclined to take long odds and test your luck, Oregon may be the most realistic pick on the board — at least the most fun, with potential for explosive offensive weapons around a NFL quarterback.
But just like their longshot brethren, the schedule is the primary hurdle for the Ducks. Getting through the neutral-site game against Auburn to start the season may look like a significant test passed, but trips to Stanford and Washington before November should tell us what we need to know about Oregon.
Clemson & Alabama have the best odds to make the 2019-20 College Football Playoff
Both teams return their starting QBs in Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) & Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
Ohio State is a threat to win the Big Ten for the third straight year with transfer Justin Fields as the starting QB
I’m not a fan of hyperbole. Too often, you’ll read hot takes where some wager is a “lock” or the “best bet ever”. Any moderately sharp bettor can see right through such unfounded bravado.
With that said, I want to make this next statement with total clarity: I am struggling to come up with a number that would make betting against Clemson to make the College Football Playoff good value.
As the College Football Playoff Odds Tracker shows, Clemson and Alabama have had the best odds to make the four-team showdown since the odds first came out. But of late, Clemson is separating from even the Tide. The folks at BookMaker.eu in particular give the Tigers an 86.5% chance to make the CFP.
With Dabo Swinney roaming the sidelines, Trevor Lawrence as QB1, and a schedule that includes not only the oh-so-soft ACC, but also non-conference cupcakes Wofford and Charlotte, it’s not rocket science why oddsmakers are so high on Clemson.
Other sites, like Bovada and BetOnline, still have the Tigers at -300 or -400 to make the CFP, which is a good investment in my view. As for the odds at BookMaker.eu, the fact that they are so bullish on Clemson has created value on two other teams, in particular.
Bulldogs In Tough To Reach CFP
I love the fact that betting against the Georgia Bulldogs this season will only cost me -140. Kirby Smart has a great team, led by an experienced QB in Jake Fromm. This isn’t meant to be a slight on the program, but to get through the SEC and into the CFP, you need to be more than great, you need to be lucky as well.
The schedule for Georgia doesn’t shape up nicely. They face another potential playoff team in Notre Dame early in the season. They also go on to face Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and quirky Georgia Tech all on the road.
Of their six toughest games on the schedule, only Texas A&M is at home. More importantly, even if they navigate through that minefield and make the SEC title game, another date with Alabama looms, in all likelihood.
PICK: Georgia to Miss the CFP (-140)
Would Third Straight Big Ten Title Get OSU In?
Another reason I don’t like Georgia’s chances is a reason I like the Buckeyes’. Justin Fields transferred from the Bulldogs, hurting their depth at QB, while handing a playoff contender a top-shelf recruit ready to contribute from day one.
Offensive guru Ryan Day is the new head coach in Columbus and should be able to unleash Fields in a way that is sure to catch the attention of the rest of the Big Ten, similar to his work with Dwayne Haskins.
In addition to their new coach and QB, the Buckeyes have two other players definitely worthy of your attention in DE Chase Young and CB Jeffrey Okudah. Both are projected to be top-10 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, with Young in particular getting high praise.
Coming on the heels of top-three selections Joey and Nick Bosa, Young could be another game changer to help Ohio State through a tough schedule and into the four team playoff.
Oklahoma the favorite to win their fifth straight Conference Title
Texas (+300) is only other team with shorter odds than +1000
Big 12 is wide open after Sooners and Longhorns
SBD’s ongoing 2019 college football conference previews continue today with the Big 12. (See end of page for all articles.) The Big 12 sets up as a year-long Red River Rivalry, according to the odds, with Oklahoma and Texas heavily favored. The averages in our 2019 College Football Conference Title Odds Tracker show that the Sooners are -130 to win the conference in 2019, while the Longhorns are at +280, and no other team is shorter than +1100.
Here’s how BetOnline, in particular, sets up the Big 12 this season.
Oklahoma has the best team on paper heading into the season and will be searching for their third straight appearance in the College Football Playoff. They have produced the last two Heisman Trophy winners in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield and have a new defensive coordinator in Alex Grinch.
Jalen Hurts is the new quarterback and expected to follow in the footsteps of Murray and Mayfield. The Alabama transfer joins a stacked Sooners team that has wide receiver CeeDee Lamb returning following a 1,000-yard season and top running backs Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon.
Five Sooners make SI's "Top 100 College Football Players of 2019" list.
Hurts should be a solid replacement for Murray, arriving in Oklahoma as a national champion, the 2016 SEC Offensive Player of the Year and with a career starting record of 26-2. His arrival and the coaching of Lincoln Riley help make the Sooners the team to beat.
Texas is the Second-Choice
The Longhorns are the only team near Oklahoma in the odds. Texas went 10-4 last year, but have to face a tough non-conference opponent in LSU this year.
Quarterback Sam Ehlinger can carry a team and was voted as the preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. Last year’s second-leading rusher Keaontay Ingram is also returning.
There are question marks, though, as Texas needs to replace eight starters on defense from last year and hope someone can step up to replace the production of wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Betting on Texas means betting on the Longhorns reworked offensive and defensive lines coming to fruition.
Primetime wins over LSU in September and Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl, in addition to a healthy Ehlinger, could lead the Longhorns to the title, but there are too many uncertainties to put them on the same level as the Sooners.
Is There Value in a Big 12 Longshot?
The Big 12 is wide open after Oklahoma at -125 and Texas at +300. There are a few teams that could provide some sneaky value as a longshot.
The Baylor Bears (+1800) improved by six wins last year after managing just one win in their first year under Matt Rhule in 2017. They’re bringing back several starters from last year, including quarterback Charlie Brewer, and have a well-balanced and experienced lineup.
They have a favorable early schedule that could seem them easily go 3-0 against Stephen F. Austin, UTSA and Rice in the opening three weeks, gain momentum and surprise some people this season.
Iowa State (+1200) also has some good value. The Cyclones’ entire starting offensive line (114 career starts and four seniors) is returning, while quarterback Brock Purdy is the conference’s returning leader in passing efficiency (169.91).
[Iowa State’s] entire starting offensive line (114 career starts and four seniors) is returning, while quarterback Brock Purdy is the conference’s returning leader in passing efficiency (169.91).
They also have a really strong defensive line with Quan Bailey, defensive lineman Ray Lima, safety Greg Eisworth and linebacker Marcel Spears Jr. all being named to the Big-12 preseason team. Coach Matt Campbell is one to watch heading into his fourth year after an appearance in the Alamo Bowl against Washington State.
Iowa State has been picked No. 3 in the Big 12's preseason poll, the highest ranking since the league went to 10 teams. The Cyclones have been picked third or better only twice since 1996 and that was with divisions.
Baylor and Iowa don’t have the all-around talent that Oklahoma and Texas have, but they have enough bright spots to be in the mix for the Big 12 Conference Title.
Until proven otherwise, the Sooners are the team to beat.
Oklahoma has the best coach, and Hurts is primed for a massive senior year. Add in the return of CeeDee Lamb and a new defensive coordinator in Alex Grinch, and you can see why Oklahoma is the safe bet to win the Big 12.
Pick: Oklahoma (-125)
SDB’s college football conference championship coverage
The Ohio State Buckeyes have won the last two conference titles and the opportunity to bet them at plus-money is something I didn’t think would be available.
They are definitely the play and here’s why.
Ryan Day Capable of Replacing Urban Meyer
Ryan Day is the new head coach at Ohio State and, to put it simply, he flat out earned the job. Day was the co-offensive coordinator and QB coach last year and it was a rousing success. He worked with Dwayne Haskins and helped turn him into, not only a Heisman candidate, but a first-round NFL Draft pick.
That success helped Day and the Buckeyes land highly touted transfer Justin Fields from Georgia to help fill the hole caused by Haskins’ departure.
Haskins led all of college football with 4,831 passing yards and he tossed 50 touchdowns to go along with only 8 interceptions. While Fields may not possess the same accuracy, he is much more athletic than Haskins and should take advantage of the Buckeyes’ creativity on offense.
With Day still playing a significant role in crafting the offense and Fields at QB, Ohio State is in great shape.
Chase Young the Next Great Ohio State Defensive End
Lately, I’ve come to accept that there are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Ohio State edge rushers becoming household names.
The Bosa brothers (Joey and Nick) were both taken in the first three picks of the draft and it’s absolutely possible Chase Young does the same. While there are talented players all over the field at Ohio State — like RB J.K. Dobbins, WR Austin Mack and CB Jeffrey Okudah — it’s Young that has the highest upside at the next level.
The 6’5, 265-pound freak had 9.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles-for-loss last season and should play an even bigger role as the feature of a hungry OSU defense in 2019.
Why Trust Michigan?
There’s little evidence to suggest that Michigan deserves your hard-earned dollars. Assuming they are in a battle with Ohio State for the conference title, their annual end-of-season matchup (a.k.a. “The Game”) should play a big role in determining the outcome.
Even though it’s at the Big House this year, it’s impossible to ignore the fact the Wolverines have lost seven straight to the Buckeyes and 14 of the last 15.
just an honest question here. If Harbaugh loses to Ryan Day this year will the heat be on?
On average, Clemson is an overwhelming -350 favorite to win the 2019 ACC football championship
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are the defending national champions
Miami (Fla.) is the second betting choice to win the conference, all the way back at +700
Can any team hold off the Clemson Tigers from winning yet another ACC football title? You won’t find a sportsbook that sees any chance of this happening in 2019. In fact, the odds suggest that it won’t even be a close race.
Averaging the odds from the leading sportsbooks, Clemson is rated as the -350 favorite in the 2019 ACC championship odds. BetOnline is even more sure of the Tigers’ triumph.
In the past four seasons, Clemson has gone 38-2 against ACC opposition. The Tigers were 10-0 in 2015 and 2018. Pittsburgh (2017) and Syracuse (2016) were the only blots on the record in those seasons.
The Panthers are the lone ACC team to win a game at Clemson in the past five years.
Syracuse vs. Clemson Football Highlights (2018) - YouTube
Last season, the Tigers won their 10 ACC games by an average margin of 31.7 points per game. Only the Orangemen (27-23) kept them within single digits.
Clemson beat Louisville 77-16, Wake Forest 63-3 and Florida State 59-10. North Carolina fell by 34 points, Duke by 29 and Georgia Tech by 28.
In the ACC Championship Game, the Tigers crushed Pittsburgh 42-10.
What’s Happened To The ACC?
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the ACC could call itself a power conference. In the 80s, the ACC led all conferences by winning four national titles. No conference earned more national titles during the 1990s than the three garnered by the ACC.
Florida State wins the 2014 BCS National Championship [Highlight Video] - YouTube
And it wasn’t just one school getting in done. Clemson won a national title in 1981. In Miami, the Hurricanes laid claim to #1 in 1983, 1987, 1989, and 1991. The Florida State Seminoles were national champs in 1993 and 1999.
Miami’s last national title came in 2001. Florida State were national champs as recently as 2013 but lately have fallen on hard times. Last season, the Seminoles were 5-7 and 3-5 in the conference.
Clemson routs Alabama for 2nd CFP National Championship in 3 years | College Football Highlights - YouTube
With their two College Football Playoff victories last season, the national champion Tigers won half as many postseason games as the rest of the ACC combined (four).
At Least the Coastal Will Be Contested
While the Tigers will roar in the ACC Atlantic, a number of teams could win the Coastal. Over the past six years, six different schools have represented this division in the ACC title game.
Miami vs. Clemson ACC Football Championship Highlights (2017) - YouTube
Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami and Pittsburgh are all legit contenders.
Sadly, they’ll only be competing for the right to be rolled by Clemson. The Tigers won the last two ACC Championship Games by a combined score of 80-13.
One And None
The absolute certainty of the 2018 ACC season is that Clemson will crush any school in its path. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is a Heisman Trophy candidate and he’s really only scratched the surface of his ability. Running back Trevor Etienne ran for an FBS-best 24 touchdowns in 2018 and was named ACC player of the year.
Clemson crushes Notre Dame behind Trevor Lawrence's 3 TD passes | College Football Highlights - YouTube
The only question is by how much of a margin will the Tigers win the conference? Based on the current odds being offered within the ACC, Clemson would be at least a 22.5-point favorite against any other team.
You Can’t Bet That
The only regular season ACC game where Clemson figures to be tested this season is a September 14th contest at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse.
The odds on their other ACC games will be so lopsided, it won’t be profitable enough to risk betting on Clemson.
Their average 2019 conference title odds are far shorter than any of their rivals, and for good reason. They’re the only team inside the top-40 in the preseason S&P rankings and they have the shortest National Championship odds by far of any Mountain West program.
A Model of Consistency
Over the last 20 seasons, Boise State has won at least 10 games 16 times. They’ve made 16 straight Bowl Game appearances, the fifth-longest active streak in college football, and since 2009, only two teams have more wins than the Broncos.
College football’s 10 winningest programs since 2009
2. Ohio State
3. Boise State
8. Florida State
They’re projected to be a favorite in each of their 12 games this season and have a win probability of at least 83% in nine of those contests. Fresno State and San Diego State, their main Mountain West competition over the last six seasons, are both rebuilding making Boise State’s path to another conference title all the more probable.
Probability of Winning the 2019 MWC Title According to ESPN’s FPI:
ESPN’s FPI gives them a 62% probability of winning the Mountain West, making the Broncos the third largest Conference favorites in all of College Football, behind only Clemson and Oklahoma.
A Football Factory
Boise State lost its starting quarterback, running back and top two receivers from its 2018 team yet are still projected to finish with a higher S&P ranking than a season ago. Their offensive line, defensive line and wide receiving corps are all ranked first by Athlon Sports and their secondary is returning six of seven starters.
The quarterback position remains a mystery, but with three quality starting options and plethora of talent at the skilled positions, the offense isn’t expected to face much regression. They’re the only top-7 Mountain West contender that’s expected to outperform their 2018 S&P rating and the only one projected to win more than 7 games.
Stick with the Proven Commodity
With the exception of Boise State, the rest of the Mountain West Conference is down this year, and none of the other contenders have the talent or depth to justify a long shot wager.
The Broncos easily have the highest ceiling of the group and even if we give some leeway to ESPN’s FPI projection, a bet on Boise State would still be a positive expected wager at -110, as long as their Conference win probability stayed above 53%.
SDB’s college football conference championship coverage
Alabama’s odds to win the SEC have gone from -150 to -180
Georgia has pushed Alabama to their limits in the last two meetings
The Florida Gators and LSU Tigers are still too far behind the top-tier teams
The Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs have been the top two teams in the SEC over the last two years and the oddsmakers are expecting more of the same. Their odds to win the SEC have shortened as Alabama’s gone from -150 to -180, while Georgia’s gone from +270 to +260. Do any of the second-tier teams which are mostly paying out at a higher price now, have a shot to surprise?
Other than getting spanked in the National Championship game by Clemson, there aren’t many criticisms that can be directed Alabama’s way. They were incredibly dominant last season, winning their regular season games by an average score of 49-13.8. Yes, you read that right: they won by an average of 35 points per game.
Not much will change in 2019 as their schedule is an absolute breeze. In non-conference play, they’ll take on Due, New Mexico State and Southern Miss. In conference play, they’ll host LSU, but will have to travel to South Carolina, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn. Outside of the Aggies, they probably won’t break a sweat.
Why the Alabama Crimson Tide will be even better in 2019 - YouTube
Part of winning the SEC is getting to the championship game. Exactly who is going to finish with a better record than them in the SEC West? There’s no one that’s ready to do it.
What About LSU?
Of course, there’s the Aggies (who are a year or two away) and the Tigers (who many feel are ready now), but these teams are way behind the Tide. LSU couldn’t even score a single point against Alabama last year and that game was at home.
LSU Football: 2019 Biggest Questions - YouTube
LSU has a much tougher schedule to deal with as out of conference, they have to visit Texas. In conference play, they’ll have to take on Florida and Texas A&M, and visit Alabama. They’ll need Joe Burrow and the offense to have an incredible year. I’m not buying it, which means it’s too much to ask for them to beat out Alabama.
Bulldogs Are The Class Of The East
Georgia finished 11-3 last season but both Kentucky and Florida were 10-win teams, so it’s not as if the Bulldogs ran away with it. But Georgia only lost once prior to the SEC Championship Game, so they are a cut above.
Alabama vs Georgia I 2018 SEC Championship - YouTube
And they’re the one team that seems to be able to play with Alabama. They were up early in the SEC Championship Game last season and nearly beat them in the National Championship Game in 2017 (lost in overtime). Head coach Kirby Smart not only recruits well but gets this team to execute well on both sides of the ball.
What About The Gators?
Florida could – repeat, could – potentially be closing the gap on Georgia. One reason we can say that is they earned some quality wins last season against No. 5 LSU and No. 23 Mississippi State and are expecting their offense to be better.
The Gators defense was already ferocious and if Dan Mullen can fix the offense, this team could have the balance that so many others in the SEC lack and which is necessary to compete with Alabama and Georgia.
Feleipe Franks 2018 Highlights - YouTube
Would I bet on Feleipe Franks actually living up to the hype and the offense actually delivering? No.
You also have to consider the schedule as they have to go to LSU, to Kentucky, to South Carolina and face Georgia at a neutral site. Georgia’s schedule is easier, so they’re still the better bet.
What’s The Best Bet?
I’m all-in on Alabama. Both Alabama and Georgia have very easy schedules – as easy as they get in the SEC, anyway – so I expect to see them both in the SEC Championship. Georgia has pushed Alabama to the brink but they’ve yet to solve them. I expect Nick Saban to be better adjusted to facing the Bulldogs this time around.
Florida Atlantic Looks To Rebound After Disastrous 2018 Campaign
The Owls finished 11-3 in 2017 and were one of the best stories in college football. Lane Kiffin was red-hot in terms of coaching circles and NFL draft scouts were salivating over a number of players on the team. Some people thought they were in the College Football Playoff picture heading into 2018 … until they were rocked 63-14 by Oklahoma in Week 1.
Fast forward to 2019 and the Owls are trying to rebuild after a disastrous five-win campaign. Some of their shortcomings were bad luck as they lost all four of their one-score conference games. However, it won’t get easier this year now that they have to replace star runner Devin Singletary and top wideout Jevon Durante.
Devin Singletary Florida Atlantic Football Highlights - 2018 Season | Stadium - YouTube
There’s a lot of work to do here as starting quarterback Chris Robison is back but three offensive lineman starters are gone. The defense doesn’t return much either. They do a good job of finding talent but I’m not bullish on this FAU team right now. They’re not as good as they showed in 2017 and not as bad as they were in 2018.
Florida International Should Contend
While I’m not huge on FAU, I do like FIU. Butch Davis has done an excellent job with the program, going 17-9 since taking over. They return a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, including quarterback James Morgan, who is a graduate transfer. On defense, they return their whole secondary aside for Emmanuel Lubin.
Marshall vs. FIU Football Highlights (2018) | Stadium - YouTube
The question for this team is on the lines. They allowed the second-highest sack rate in the country last season and lost four offensive linemen. That could be a good thing.
On defense, they allowed 5.0 yards per carry. Even so, this team went 9-4. If they can sort out those areas, they can win this conference.
Marshall Is The Best Bet
I like Marshall’s prospects to win this conference next season. They won nine games last year and return quarterback Isaiah Green, who led the team to a 7-3 record when he started. The team’s top two rushers are back while the receiving corps brings back a lot, too.
On defense, they have a lot to replace up front, but the secondary returns virtually intact. They were 20th in defense last season in terms of yards and allowed just 22.0 points per game.
2019 Marshall Spring Game Highlights - YouTube
The schedule also sets up quite well for the Thundering Herd. Their toughest games are at home as Louisiana Tech and Florida International will visit Miami, while their most challenging conference road game will be at Florida Atlantic. Their other conference road games are at Middle Tennessee, Charlotte, and Rice, who are all expected to be sub-.500.
At +650, there’s good value with this team. I definitely wouldn’t bet FAU at +350 as the favorite but if you went with North Texas or FIU, I wouldn’t blame you. Personally, I’m taking a shot with the Thundering Herd who have a really good chance to win the conference and are paying a nice price.