With college football season literally just days away at this point, it’s time to review the entire landscape of the 2019 NCAA Football season and the race to the 2020 College Football Playoff and national championship game. Who’s going to win the big game? Alabama? Clemson? Georgia? Ohio State? Michigan?
Well, with the college football betting sites, there aren’t any surprises to ponder. After destroying Alabama, 44-16, to win the national championship last season, the Clemson Tigers are the top-dog favorites to take it home yet again in 2019 at +225. But did you really think Bama was going anywhere? The Alabama Crimson Tide are right at the top with the Tigers in a +225 tie.
According to online sportsbook Bovada, the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide are placed in a first-place tie with +225 odds. Afterwards, we have the Georgia Bulldogs in third at +650, with the Ohio State Buckeyes in the No. 4 spot at +950. Rounding out the top five, we have my Michigan Wolverines placed with +1400 odds. In sixth-place, we have the Oklahoma Sooners at +1500, with the Texas Longhorns in No. 7 at +2000. The Oregon Ducks take us to the eighth spot with their +2200 odds, while the LSU Tigers take ninth at +2500. Rounding out the top 10, we have the Florida Gators placed in tenth at +3300.
Clemson would send shockwaves all over the world in last season’s national championship game, completely thrashing Alabama in 44-16 fashion. Now the question is: Can they do it again for a repeat?
The Tigers would take massive hits in the offseason, particularly on their defensive line losing five total players who were absolutely incredible in 2018 — they would destroy opposition en route to the second-lowest points per game and the third-lowest rushing yards allowed. Needless to say though, Clemson will have an extremely different defensive line entering the new campaign.
With that being said, the Tigers will have the returns of their remarkable quarterback Trevor Lawrence and their power running back Travis Etienne.
For Lawrence, he would absolutely light the Crimson Tide up in the national championship game throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns. For the season, he would tally a total of 3,280 passing yards with 30 touchdowns. On top of that, he would throw just four interceptions. It was just absolutely incredible numbers for the freshman.
With Etienne, he would be pretty amazing himself, putting up the fourth-highest rushing yards in the country with a total of 1,658. And not just that, but he also leads the nation in touchdowns punching in 24.
With normal circumstances, it would be pretty crazy for any school to be placed as a favorite with +225 odds, but this is Clemson we’re talking about. (And Alabama, too, since they’re in a tie.) With that being said, with Lawrence and Etienne at the helm, they’re in a beautiful situation to be in yet another national championship game and having a repeat national championship victory at that.
In the last four seasons, the Alabama Crimson Tide have appeared in every national championship game. Altogether in that stretch, they’ve collected a 2-2 record, with two defeats to Clemson in 2017 (35-31) and 2019 (44-16). However, they would also take out Clemson in 2016, 45-40, to win the chip, and their other title would come against Georgia in a 26-23 overtime thriller in 2018.
Coming into the new season, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will certainly have another powerhouse team at their disposal, and they’re a guarantee to linger among the top, if not top, the polls all season long. In other words, with as powerful as Clemson is, and Alabama entering with another power team themselves, we’re gearing up for yet another national championship rematch between the Tigers and Crimson Tide.
That’s even more clear when you see the teams are dead-even, again. For example, just like Clemson returns their star quarterback, Alabama also returns their star in the form of Tua Tagovailoa — who by the way finished second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. Out of Hawaii, Tagovailoa would light up the competition with 3,966 total passing yards, which would rank the fifth-most in the country. He would tally 43 touchdowns on his resume, which would be the second-most in the nation. And not only that, he would also throw for just six interceptions as well.
For the new season, the Crimson Tide are also bringing in three power five-star recruits in running back Trey Sanders, defensive end Antonio Alfano and offensive tackle Evan Neal who are sure to be extremely effective.
It may not be the most exciting thing in the world for college football fans to see a rematch between the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide in the national championship game, but we’re the closest thing to that being set in stone — the odds are correct. Me personally, I’m game. With the exception of last season, these two always put on a show when they get together.
Let’s go over the top favorites to win the 2019-20 NCAA Football national championship, review their odds for a top-quality betting prediction, and afterwards, I’ll be giving you my personal pick to take home the College Football Playoff title. I’ll also be providing you a long shot pick to ride with for a major payday. Can you feel it in the air, kids? College football is among us.
For more in-depth conference-by-conference season previews, you can also check out my Power Five predictions with the ACC, SEC, Big Ten,Big 12 and Pac-12.
At the beginning of the 2018 campaign, the quarterback position for Clemson was in a state of chaos. They would kick off the season with two starting quarterbacks with true senior Kelly Bryant and freshman Trevor Lawrence, and you know the old quote: “If you have two starting quarterbacks, you have none.”
Head coach Dabo Swinney would nip that problem in the bud as soon as possible and settle on Lawrence, rather than his senior. As a result, Bryant would bounce and transfer out of Death Valley, and Lawrence would absolutely blaze up competition leading an offense that would average 40 points-per-game — and win that pesky national championship.
According to S&P+ metrics, the Tigers defense would rank as the third-best in the nation, and this would be mainly thanks to their extraordinarily dominant defensive line. Not only was Clemson extremely effective either, they were also incredibly entertaining to watch with highlight after highlight, this both on offense and embarrassing quarterbacks on the defensive side. It couldn’t have been a more perfect season for the Tigers, taking their second title in three seasons, and they would dish out the worst loss of Nick Saban’s career in the process. It was just an amazing season for the Clemson Tigers.
Entering 2019, Clemson have all of the tools, resources, weaponry, whatever word you want to use to repeat as national champions. On offense, they return three of their starters on the offensive line, some of the highest-skilled playmakers in the nation, and they also have a Heisman Trophy preseason-favorite quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. Everything is square there.
The Tigers defense is a bit shaky coming in, they’re literally in a position where they have to replace the entire line and quite a bit of talent at the linebacker spot as well. With that being said, Clemson is still massively strong at the secondary, only losing one player (Travyon Mullen) to the NFL Draft. And even though Clemson did take hits, let’s be honest here: The Tigers don’t rebuild, they reload. Their elite recruiting and depth will keep them just fine, and it’ll lead them to another season where they’re once again the kings of the ACC and in the hunt for the national championship.
Alabama would have a dominant season in 2018, and for the vast majority of the year, it looked like the Tide were heading for yet another national title behind an extremely potent record-breaking offense led by Tua Tagovailoa. Bama was on a stretch where they had won 12 consecutive games by at least 20 points, and they looked unbeatable — pretty much everybody had them as lock to win the chip.
But then that game came, and there, they would meet Clemson. To put it nicely, it would humble the Crimson Tide, and have them looking vulnerable and thoroughly defeated for the first time in seasons.
Simply put, Alabama got spoiled, and got accustom to thrashing opponent after opponent. This was telling during SEC Media Days, where players would expose their mindset of them feeling like they were better than Clemson that night. To them, it was just a matter of not preparing accurately for the Tigers, and that’s why they weren’t holding up the trophy when the smoke cleared.
And that loss may have been the best thing to happen to the 2019 Alabama Crimson Tide. The vibe in Tuscaloosa is that Bama is out for blood this season with a no-prisoners mindset, and it’s also being labeled as a revenge tour for Nick Saban’s squad. And on top of that, you also have specific players who want in on this tour such as Heisman runner-up quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Biletnikoff-winning linebacker Jerry Jeudy and Dylan Moses, a player with a strong potential to win the SEC Defensive Player of the Year at season’s end.
The SEC is loaded yet again — as always, right? But so is Alabama. Expect the Crimson Tide’s need for revenge to make them an absolute force this year. Such a force that it will lead them to the SEC championship, the College Football Playoff and possibly another national title to add to their giant trophy collection.
Since Kirby Smart has arrived at Georgia to take over the head coaching job, the program has shot up to the top of the college football world. At this point, they have a very tight hold on the SEC East division, winning the last two championships. But here’s the issue: Even though they have an incredible amount of success, everyone keeps asking the question: Can they beat Alabama though? For two consecutive seasons now, the Bulldogs have suffered rough losses, and it’s contributed to the watering down of their 24-5 overall tally of the past two years.
Still, expectations are massively high for the Georgia Bulldogs entering 2019. Pundits have them winning the SEC East division. Fans have them with the national championship. And why not? Returning this season, they have their star quarterback in Jake Fromm at the helm who has calculated 5,376 passing yards, 54 touchdowns, and a 65% completion rate the past two years. Oh, and he’s also thrown just 13 interceptions in that stretch as well.
Georgia may have lost their running back Elijah Holyfield to the NFL, but they’ve recovered quite well with D’Andre Swift now at the position. With Swift, you have one of the most entertaining players in the country, and this is due to him being an electrifying dual-threat running back. He has both agility and speed that will run circles around opposition, and with his lethal hands and ability to create space, he can also be very effective in the passing attack.
Last season, Swift would put up incredible numbers tallying 1,049 rushing yards, 297 receiving yards and he would collect 13 total touchdowns in the process. Coming into this year, Swift will be sharing the backfield with Zamir White and James Cook, two up-and-coming running backs for the Bulldogs program.
Georgia’s offensive line is undebatably one of the best in the country, and that’s because their unit is loaded with both star talent and hefty depth to fill the role if needed. Literally, everywhere you look, you’ll see five-star recruits on UGA’s line, and it’s led by left tackle Andrew Thomas. Thomas is huge at 6’5″, 320 pounds, and is expected to be the No. 1 offensive lineman on many draft boards in April 2020. Needless to say, Georgia is loaded.
There are major shoes to fill at Ohio State University, and in multiple directions. First off, you have the biggest of them all with Ryan Day taking over as head coach to begin the post-Urban Meyer era. And on the team, he’s tasked with replacing quarterback Dwayne Haskins and wide receivers Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin and Paris Campbell which were all products of a toxic passing attack to opposition. But here’s the good news for Ohio State: Like Alabama and Clemson, even Georgia nowadays, the Buckeyes are a program that doesn’t rebuild, they reload.
That’s certainly the philosophy that will be needed for 2019, and that’s because OSU only returns four starters from last season’s team. With that being said, they have the recruits and talent to make up for the massive hits, and it all begins with their quarterback Justin Fields, a transfer out of the University of Georgia who is aimed to replace Haskins. At the running back position, they’ll have junior J.K. Dobbins. The third-year starter will now have his time to shine with Mike Weber gone, making him the solo feature back. You can fully expect Dobbins to have a power season, and he’ll hit the 1,000 rushing yard tally for the third consecutive year as well.
The only returning starter that they have is senior K.J. Hill, but they’ll take him especially with how reliable he is — and the flashes of greatness that he has shown as well. If the durability is there for Hill this season, he should break OSU’s school record for receptions, which is currently held by David Boston. Joining the corps with Hill will be Binjinmen Victor, Chris Olave, and Austin Mack. They’re a talented group of players to put alongside Hill, but they’ll need to be consistent for Ohio State to have a successful passing attack. The Buckeyes will also need to replace four lost starters on their offensive line, but some of their high-profile recruits should take care of that.
Flipping to the defensive side of the ball, they return a total of nine starters. With that being said, however, OSU’s defense wasn’t necessarily elite last season. Head coach Ryan Day has addressed that issue though, by literally firing and re-hiring a whole new defensive staff with the exception of their defensive line coach Larry Johnson. To lead things off, Day wouldn’t hire one defensive coordinator, but two in the form of Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison. The defense is still loaded with talent, so they have tools to work with including Chase Young who is expected to go early in the 2020 NFL Draft. They also have productive players such as linebacker Malik Harrison and cornerback Jeffery Okudah as well, who both could also go early in the draft.
The 2019 schedule for Ohio State is pretty tricky, particularly in the middle and the end of the season. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, they won’t have to deal with a power non-conference opponent to start out the campaign again. With that being said, they might be able to get their chemistry together pretty quickly, and by the time rivalry week approaches, they’ll be locked-and-loaded for a showdown with Michigan for the Big Ten East championship.
With Ohio State having a brand new head coach and new quarterback, and with Michigan bringing back their quarterback Shea Patterson (including both back-up QB’s such as Dylan McCaffrey), wide receivers in Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones and four offensive linemen who would be named to the All-Big Ten last season, a vacuum is definitely in place for the Wolverines to take control of the Big Ten, and be their representation in the College Football Playoff for the national championship.
During the offseason, Michigan would go out and hire a new offensive coordinator in Josh Gattis. With Gattis, the Wolverines are implementing a spread that has a load of RPO’s included with it. You can also expect a few huddles for a quicker and more efficient offense. If things go right, Michigan could end up with the best offense in the Big Ten conference.
On the defensive side, Don Brown and the Wolverines certainly have some improvement to work on after thrashings to close out the season — they would allow 62 points to Ohio State, and then 41 to Florida in their bowl game. The weapons are certainly there for progression though. They would lose effective players such as David Long, Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich, but Michigan would retain key playmakers such as Khaleke Hudson, Josh Uche and Lavert Hill. Another player from the defense to keep an eye on is Daxton Hill, a five-star freshman in the secondary. On top of that, there’s also young and talented players all over the place for the Wolverines. Expect another dominant Michigan defense in 2019.
Most pundits have 2019 being the season that the Wolverines finally get over the hump to defeat Ohio State and win the Big Ten East, and I have to concur with that sentiment. Michigan has the luxury of playing Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan State all at home this season, with road trips against a weakened Penn State and Wisconsin.
If the Wolverines can go undefeated at Ann Arbor, Michigan could wind up as your Big Ten champions with an opportunity to compete in the College Football Playoff for the national championship. Even if they did suffer a loss, Michigan could still win the conference title and end up in the Playoff. Still though, with the Wolverines having a favorable schedule, talent all over the place and Urban Meyer now being out of the picture at Ohio State, a 12-0 season is very realistic for the Maize and Blue.
Despite it coming along with quite the amount of controversy, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish would accomplish an undefeated season in 2018 that would see them in the College Football Playoff. Unfortunately for the Irish, a lot of their doubters were proven correct when they were blown out of the CFP with a 30-3 loss to Clemson in the semifinal.
Now coming into 2019, the success last season has now led to even higher expectations for Notre Dame, and that includes doing better than an undefeated regular season record and winning a national championship.
At the quarterback position, the Fighting Irish are sitting pretty with Ian Book providing massive stability at the spot. After taking the starting job from Brandon Wimbush, who would transfer to UCF, he would go on a roll for ND and completely lock up the job for himself after creating an offense of potency. To go along with the productivity at quarterback, the Fighting Irish also have an elite offensive line led by Tommy Kraemer, and that’s sure to help with the numbers of solid running back Jafar Armstrong and wide receiver Chasey Claypool.
On the other hand, Notre Dame would take some big hits in the offseason that they’ll need to recover from. On the offensive side, their biggest losses would come in the form of Miles Boykin and Dexter Williams, while they would lose Drue Tranquill, Tevon Coney, Jerry Tillery, and Julian Love on defense. They do have high-profile talent like Julian Okwara returning, but there’s a ton of turnover that the Fighting Irish will need to address.
With the current state of Notre Dame, their season could swing a few different ways, but at +4000 odds, I consider their long shot status an early Christmas gift. I’m honestly stunned at their figure, which provides a ton of value. With that being said, I’ll take advantage of it, and I suggest you do too. This is by far your best long shot pick to make.
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