2018 College Football Preview: Alabama Favored to Repeat; Clemson Hot on Their Heels

College Football Preview: Alabama
  • The 2018 college football season kicks off Aug. 30th and Alabama is poised to be the preseason #1 for the third straight year.
  • Can Clemson, Ohio State, or Georgia stop the Tide from winning their third National Championship in four years?
  • Who’s the Heisman favorite? Which coaches are getting fired? Will UCF go undefeated again? Odds below in our giant 2018 NCAAF preview.

With the 2018-19 season fast approaching, it’s time once again for SBD’s hallowed tradition of massive season previews.

This year, we’ve broken it up into the following sections: (1) National Championship & CFP Odds; (2) Conference Champion Odds; (3) Player Awards & Stats Odds; (4) Coach Odds; (5) QB Battle Odds; and (6) Trending Storylines.

Bettors can wager on many of the props below at sites like
Bovada and
BetOnline. Others are purely entertainment.

Without further ado …

(Thanks to Alex Kilpatrick for the assist on the number crunching.)

(1) NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP & CFP ODDS

Odds to win the 2018-19 National Championship

TEAM NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
ALABAMA 7/2
CLEMSON 11/2
OHIO STATE 8/1
GEORGIA 12/1
WASHINGTON 22/1
OKLAHOMA 24/1
WISCONSIN 24/1
MICHIGAN 30/1
AUBURN 32/1
PENN STATE 32/1
MICHIGAN STATE 38/1
MIAMI 40/1
TEXAS 50/1
NOTRE DAME 55/1
FLORIDA STATE 60/1
USC 65/1
LSU 75/1
MISSISSIPPI STATE 80/1
STANFORD 80/1
TCU 90/1
FLORIDA 110/1
WEST VIRGINIA 110/1
CENTRAL FLORIDA 125/1
BOISE STATE 130/1
FIELD 21/1

Some of the faces have changed, but the teams largely remain the same from last year when it comes to preseason national title favorites. The first school on the list that wasn’t a preseason top-15 team last year is Michigan State, who surprised with a 10-3 record in Brian Lewerke’s first year under center and now lead the nation in returning production, according to SB Nation’s Bill Connelly.

A list of the top-five teams in the NCAA in terms of returning production.
The top-five teams in the NCAA in terms of returning production from 2017, per Bill Connelly.

The top four in the odds — Alabama, Clemson, OSU, and Georgia — are the consensus top-four teams in the nation. The steep drop after that foursome is supported by history.

Each of the last three national champions has been a top-three team in the preseason AP poll, and the one prior (Ohio State, 2014) was #5. So don’t get your hopes up for a miracle title run by the likes of Notre Dame, Miami, or Texas.

Odds to qualify for the College Football Playoff

TEAM ODDS TO MAKE 4-TEAM PLAYOFF
ALABAMA 5/11
CLEMSON 8/9
OHIO STATE 9/5
GEORGIA 2/1
WASHINGTON 7/1
OKLAHOMA 11/2
WISCONSIN 5/2
MICHIGAN 9/2
AUBURN 6/1
PENN STATE 13/2
MICHIGAN STATE 8/1
TEXAS 17/2
MIAMI 9/1
NOTRE DAME 11/1
FLORIDA STATE 21/2
USC 12/1
LSU 13/1
STANFORD 14/1
MISSISSIPPI STATE 15/1
TCU 15/1
WEST VIRGINIA 18/1
FLORIDA 24/1
CENTRAL FLORIDA 32/1
BOISE STATE 34/1

Think 5/11 (68.8% implied probability) is too optimistic for Alabama? Nick Saban is four-for-four when it comes to qualifying for the CFP. His Alabama teams barely need a quarterback to win the SEC, and now he has two. (More on this, below.)

National Championship odds by conference

CONFERENCE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
SEC 15/9
BIG TEN 3/1
ACC 4/1
BIG 12 11/1
PAC-12 14/1

Neither the Big 12 nor the Pac-12 has won a national title in the CFP era, and with Washington and Oklahoma “leading the charge” this year, that drought is likely to continue.

College Football Playoff team props

PROPOSITION ODDS
Alabama vs Georgia National Championship rematch 24/1
Alabama, Clemson & Ohio State all qualify for the 4-team CFP 27/4
All four CFP teams are conference champions 5/4
Big Ten champion does not qualify for the 4-team CFP 5/3
At least one Group of 5 team qualifies for the 4-team CFP 16/1
A Group of 5 team finishes undefeated 19/1
Would an undefeated Group of 5 team qualify for the 4-team CFP? 2/1

The 2017-18 UFC Knights, who were left out of the CFP despite finishing the regular season undefeated, are the best argument there is for an eight-team playoff. Without expansion, it’s still far more likely that an undefeated Group of 5 team is omitted from the four-team field in favor of Power 5 conference champions with Ls on their resume.

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(2) CONFERENCE CHAMPION ODDS

As Ohio State and Alabama proved in 2016 and 2017, you don’t have to win your conference to earn a spot in the playoff. But it sure does help. The other 14 CFP berths, dating back to the 2014 inception, have all gone to Power 5 conference champions.

ACC

TEAM ODDS TO WIN 2018 ACC TITLE
CLEMSON 2/3
MIAMI 13/2
FLORIDA STATE 23/2
FIELD 13/3

Big 12

TEAM ODDS TO WIN 2018 BIG 12 TITLE
OKLAHOMA 9/5
TEXAS 7/2
TCU 8/1
WEST VIRGINIA 9/1
FIELD 15/4

Big Ten

TEAM ODDS TO WIN 2018 BIG TEN TITLE
OHIO STATE 2/1
WISCONSIN 9/2
MICHIGAN 13/2
PENN STATE 13/2
MICHIGAN STATE 15/2
FIELD 9/1

PAC-12

TEAM ODDS TO WIN 2018 PAC-12 TITLE
WASHINGTON 8/5
USC 7/2
STANFORD 6/1
FIELD 4/1

SEC

TEAM ODDS TO WIN 2018 SEC TITLE
ALABAMA 10/9
GEORGIA 7/2
AUBURN 10/1
LSU 16/1
MISSISSIPPI STATE 16/1
FLORIDA 19/1
FIELD 17/1

(3) PLAYER AWARDS & STATS ODDS

Since none of the players are going to earn a dime for their hard work this year, here’s hoping everyone earns a shiny new trophy made of precious metals which they can boil down and sell to a shady jeweller.

In reality, only a select few are going to be so honored. So while I rework my plan to get these young adults fair compensation, take a gander at the preseason favorites for college football’s biggest individual awards.

Interestingly, Bryce Love tops the favorites for the Doak Walker (best RB) but trails Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor in the Heisman odds. That’s not a mistake. Love can’t realistically be better than last year, when he finished a distant second to Baker Mayfield. Only one west coast running back has won the Heisman since Marcus Allen in 1981 (Reggie Bush, 2005), and only one west coast player, period, has won the Heisman since Reggie Bush (Marcus Mariota, 2014).

We’re not suggesting an east coast bias. We’re suggesting an east coast “I’m-not-staying-up-to-watch-Stanford-pound-the-ball-40-times-against-Oregon-State.”

Heisman Trophy

PLAYER ODDS TO WIN HEISMAN TROPHY
JONATHAN TAYLOR (WISCONSIN) 8/1
TUA TAGOVAILOA (ALABAMA) 8/1
BRYCE LOVE (STANFORD) 9/1
KHALIL TATE (ARIZONA) 14/1
 TRACE MCSORLEY (PENN STATE) 15/1

Davey O’Brien Award (Best QB)

PLAYER ODDS TO WIN DAVEY O’BRIEN AWARD
TUA TAGOVAILOA (ALABAMA) 17/3
KHALIL TATE (ARIZONA) 7/1
TRACE MCSORLEY (PENN STATE) 9/1
JUSTIN HERBERT (OREGON) 12/1
DREW LOCK (MISSOURI) 19/1

Chuck Bednarik Award (Best Defensive Player)

PLAYER ODDS TO WIN CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD
ED OLIVER (HOUSTON) 9/1
NICK BOSA (OHIO STATE) 11/1
CHRISTIAN WILKINS (CLEMSON) 11/1
RAEKWON DAVIS (ALABAMA) 13/1
CLELIN FERRELL (CLEMSON) 15/1

 Jim Thorpe Award (Best DB)

PLAYER ODDS TO WIN JIM THORPE AWARD
GREEDY WILLIAMS (LSU) 37/3
DEANDRE BAKER (GEORGIA) 15/1
JULIAN BLACKMON (UTAH) 15/1
JAQUAN JOHNSON (MIAMI) 15/1
DAMON ARNETTE (OHIO STATE) 19/1

Fred Biletnikoff Award (Best WR)

PLAYER ODDS TO WIN  FRED BILETNIKOFF AWARD
DAVID SILLS (WEST VIRGINIA) 9/1
MARQUISE BROWN (OKLAHOMA) 11/1
AJ BROWN (OLE MISS) 12/1
PARRIS CAMPBELL (OHIO STATE) 14/1
N’KEAL HARRY (ARIZONA STATE) 25/1

Doak Walker Award (Best RB)

PLAYER ODDS TO WIN DOAK WALKER AWARD
BRYCE LOVE (STANFORD) 17/3
JONATHAN TAYLOR (WISCONSIN) 7/1
JK DOBBINS (OHIO STATE) 9/1
AJ DILLON (BOSTON COLLEGE) 9/1
ZACK MOSS (UTAH) 19/1

Over/Under Rushing Yards

PLAYER O/U 2018 RUSHING YARDS
BRYCE LOVE (STANFORD) 2,050.5
JONATHAN TAYLOR (WISCONSIN) 1,999.5
AJ DILLON (BOSTON COLLEGE) 1,749.5
D’ANDRE SWIFT (GEORGIA) 1,550.5
JK DOBBINS (OHIO STATE) 1,450.5
ZACK MOSS (UTAH) 1,399.5
RODNEY ANDERSON (OKLAHOMA) 1,299.5
DAMIEN HARRIS (ALABAMA) 1,250.5

Predicting another 2,100-yard season for Bryce Love is a bridge too far (make that “a tree too tall”). It would require both staying healthy and playing in Stanford’s bowl game. The latter is a toss-up since, barring a few big upsets, Stanford is not going to be in the CFP. But goodness gracious is the 5’10, 196-pound back an electric runner.

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Over/Under Passing TDs

PLAYER O/U 2018 PASSING TDs
WILL GRIER (WEST VIRGINIA) 36.5
DREW LOCK (MISSOURI) 36.5
JUSTIN HERBERT (OREGON) 34.5
TRACE MCSORLEY (PENN STATE) 33.5
TUA TAGOVAILOA (ALABAMA) 26.5
BRIAN LEWERKE (MICHIGAN STATE) 24.5

Drew Lock lit the SEC on fire last year with 44 touchdown passes, nearly doubling his 23 majors from 2016. Good luck to the 6’4 senior in matching that this year. His gaudy 2017 stats were padded by a seven-TD game against Missouri State, a six-TD game against Idaho, and a five-TD game against UConn.

This year, the Tigers’ non-con includes non-pushovers in Purdue and Memphis (not that the Memphis defense is any sort of hurdle), while their SEC schedule features Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. All three of those defenses gave up less than 170 passing yards per game last season.

To Lock’s credit, he did torch both Georgia and Tennessee for four TDs apiece in 2017, but predicting similar production against those units is not wise forecasting.

#1 NFL Draft Pick in 2019

PLAYER ODDS TO BE #1 NFL DRAFT PICK (2019)
ED OLIVER (DT, HOUSTON) 5/1
NICK BOSA (DE, OHIO STATE) 7/1
DREW LOCK (QB, MISSOURI) 9/1
JUSTIN HERBERT (QB, OREGON) 11/1
RYAN FINLEY (QB, NC STATE) 12/1
RASHAN GARY (DE, MICHIGAN) 12/1
CLELIN FERRELL (DE, CLEMSON) 22/1
SHEA PATTERSON (QB, MICHIGAN) 22/1
JONAH WILLIAMS (OT, ALABAMA) 30/1
DEANDRE BAKER (CB, GEORGIA) 22/1
FIELD 7/2

It’s a long way out to be predicting the 2019 NFL Draft, but with so many bad teams taking their “quarterback of the future” in the last two drafts, there’s a very good chance that a defensive player goes off the board first, especially since there’s no consensus #1 QB option.

Ed Oliver and Nick Bosa aren’t just game wreckers. They’re more like a Monday morning root canal; they’ll ruin your whole damn week.

(4) COACH ODDS

Over/Under wins for first-year coaches

COACH O/U 2018 WINS
DAN MULLEN (FLORIDA) 7.5
KEVIN SUMLIN (ARIZONA) 7.0
WILLIE TAGGART (FLORIDA STATE) 7.0
JIMBO FISHER (TEXAS A&M) 6.5
SCOTT FROST (NEBRASKA) 6.0
JEREMY PRUITT (TENNESSEE) 5.5

Former UCF coach Scott Frost hasn’t lost a game since the 2016 Cure Bowl. With trips to the Big House and Madison looming in Weeks 4 and 6, respectively, he’s going to be reacquainted with the sting of losing in short order.

Odds to be the first coach fired

PLAYER ODDS TO BE FIRST COACH FIRED
ED ORGERON (LSU) 7/1
DAVID BEATY (KANSAS) 9/1
BRAD LAMBERT (CHARLOTTE) 14/1
BOB DAVIE (NEW MEXICO) 14/1
EVERETT WITHERS (TEXAS STATE) 14/1
LOVIE SMITH (ILLINOIS) 19/1
KALANI SITAKE (BYU) 32/1
MIKE MACINTYRE (COLORADO) 33/1
RANDY EDSALL (UCONN) 40/1
KLIFF KINGSBURY (TEXAS TECH) 40/1
MIKE JINKS (BOWLING GREEN) 50/1
TONY SANCHEZ (UNLV) 50/1
MIKE NEU (BALL STATE) 55/1
CHRIS ASH (RUTGERS) 60/1
LUKE FICKELL (CINCINNATI) 125/1
LARRY FEDORA (UNC) 150/1
MAJOR APPLEWHITE (HOUSTON) 150/1
MATT RHULE (BAYLOR) 175/1
JIM HARBAUGH (MICHIGAN) 499/1
FIELD 2/1

Ed Orgeron isn’t at the top of the list because LSU is likely to be bad. He’s at the top of the list because the Tigers have a horrendously hard schedule and, if it starts poorly, the team could very well change tack mid-season.

Not only does LSU open with a neutral site tilt against a resurgent Miami, but five of their first six SEC games are against Auburn (road), Florida (road), Georgia (home), Mississippi State (home), and Bama (home).

(5) QB BATTLE ODDS

This year more than ever a number of high-profile starting QB jobs are completely up in the air, including at the two national title favorites, Alabama and Clemson. Will they go with higher upside and less experience (i.e. Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence) or the safety of savvy veterans (i.e. Jalen Hurts and Kelly Bryant)?

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Looking at the list of title contenders, the first team that really knows who will be at the helm from Week 1 until January is Washington with prolific incumbent Jake Browning.

Alabama

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
TUA TAGOVAILOA 1/2
JALEN HURTS 2/1

Clemson

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
TREVOR LAWRENCE 10/9
KELLY BRYANT 6/5
HUNTER JOHNSON 13/1

Florida

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
FELEIPE FRANKS 20/19
EMORY JONES 3/2
KYLE TRASK 10/1
JAKE ALLEN 50/1

Florida State

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
JAMES BLACKMAN 5/6
DEONDRE FRANCOIS 6/5

Georgia

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
JAKE FROMM 1/4
JUSTIN FIELDS 4/1

LSU

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
JOE BURROW 5/6
MYLES BRENNAN 3/1
LOWELL NARCISSE 7/1
JUSTIN MCMILLAN 23/2

Nebraska

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
ADRIAN MARTINEZ 7/9
TRISTAN GEBBIA 9/7

Notre Dame

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
BRANDON WIMBUSH 1/2
IAN BOOK 9/4
AVERY DAVIS 49/1
PHIL JURKOVEC 199/1

Ohio State

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
DWAYNE HASKINS 1/5
TATE MARTELL 5/1

Texas

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
SAM EHLINGER 5/6
SHANE BEUCHELE 6/5

UCLA

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
DEVON MODSTER 4/3
AUSTIN BURTON 3/2
WILTON SPEIGHT 8/1
DORIAN THOMPSON-ROBINSON 24/1
MATT LYNCH 74/1

USC

PLAYER ODDS TO START MORE GAMES AT QB
JT DANIELS 5/6
MATT FINK 7/5
JACK SEARS 24/1

(6) TRENDING STORYLINES

The Undefeated UCF Knights

PROPOSITION OVER/UNDER
O/U Length of UCF’s win streak (dating back to 2017) 16.5 games
O/U Length of UFC’s win streak to start 2018 3.5 games

Winners of 13 straight overall, the Knights will be tilting at history this year when they attempt to go undefeated for a second year in a row. But odds aren’t good for first-year coach Josh Heupel, facing UNC in Chapel Hill in Week 3, followed by testing games with Florida Atlantic and Pitt.

If they get through that three-game stretch, a visit to Memphis in mid October will be another crucible.

The All-Powerful Khalil Tate

PROPOSITION ODDS
Khalil Tate posts & deletes a tweet during the 2018 season 2/1
Khalil Tate tweets about student-athlete compensation 6/1
O/U Year NCAA removes its ban on player compensation 2023.5

When Arizona was considering hiring Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo as its next head coach, QB Khalil Tate, a viable Heisman contender, tweeted (and then deleted) “I didn’t come to Arizona to run the triple-option,” the system Niumatalolo has long employed at Navy.

American football

His calculated power move worked and Arizona hired Kevin Sumlin instead. Imbued with a new sense of authority, will Tate use the platform again to better the lot for student athletes? Very plausible.

The Imbalance of Power

PROPOSITION ODDS
Alabama is favored in every regular-season game 1/19
Clemson is favored in every regular-season game 1/14
Ohio State is favored in every regular-season game 2/3
O/U Biggest margin of victory in a game between FBS teams 66.5 points

Alabama has been an underdog exactly once since 2009, and that was at Georgia in 2015. They don’t play at Georgia in 2018. They do play at Ole Miss, a team they beat 66-3 last year.

Both Clemson and USC were favored in all their 2017 regular-season games last year, as well. Ohio State’s matchups at Penn State and Michigan State are the most likely games to end that streak.

The post 2018 College Football Preview: Alabama Favored to Repeat; Clemson Hot on Their Heels appeared first on Sports Betting Dime.

Original source: https://www.sportsbettingdime.com/news/ncaaf/2018-college-football-odds-preview/

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