The college football season doesn’t get underway for another 3.5 months, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start thinking about the odds now. The best bets you make are usually the ones that you have the most time to think through, and there is ample time right now to consider what teams and players will look like when the season finally gets underway. (Unless you’re busy, like, watching other sports. Perish the thought.)
Let’s take a gander at some early numbers.
Odds to win the 2016-17 College Football Playoff:
Ohio State: 21/2
Florida State: 35/2
Notre Dame: 39/2
There is no huge favorite like Ohio State last season. The SEC is going to get a team in the playoff. Alabama plays a very tough schedule, while LSU gets the Crimson Tide and Ole Miss at home. Meanwhile, in the SEC East, Tennessee has a clear shot at the division title, plus a cross-over game against Alabama in Knoxville.
If Clemson wins at Auburn to start the season, the Tigers play a soft ACC slate and host South Carolina to end the year.
Baylor is an interesting longshot. The Bears have a big-time offense and a weak schedule. But, for the second time in three years, the Big 12 could be the Power 5 Conference that winds up shutout of the CFP.
Odds to win the 2016-17 Heisman Trophy:
Deshaun Watson (Clemson): 5/1
Christian McCaffrey (Stanford): 6/1
Leonard Fournette (LSU): 15/2
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma): 11/1
JT Barrett (Ohio State): 14/1
Dalvin Cook (Florida State): 14/1
Chad Kelly (Ole Miss): 15/1
The highest profile player on one of the best teams in the nation, Watson probably needs to lead the Tigers to a win in their opener against Auburn to capture the Heisman. If Clemson gets the win, they’ll be near the top of the polls all season, and Watson’s name will be heard over and over and over again.
Last year, McCaffrey was the Heisman runner-up, behind Derrick Henry (and ahead of Watson). It’s hard to imagine the Stanford back being better than he was last year. He’ll need the Cardinal to exceed expectations, as a team, or hope none of the title contenders get brilliant quarterback play.
Odds to be first QB selected in the 2017 NFL Draft:
Deshaun Watson (Clemson): 3/5
Brad Kaaya (Miami): 7/2
Chad Kelly (Ole Miss): 8/1
Luke Falk (Washington State): 10/1
CJ Beathard (Iowa): 15/1
Josh Dobbs (Tennessee) 20/1
Watson is a great bet, even if you have to lay less than even money. There is little to knock in his game: he plays for a winning program, and would have been a top selection this year. Kaaya is a prototypical NFL quarterback that’s making minor steps each year. Falk is a guy not a lot of people have seen, but scouts love.
Odds to be next NCAA coach to move to the NFL:
Nick Saban (Alabama): 8/1
Brian Kelly (Notre Dame): 10/1
Jim Mora (UCLA): 10/1
David Shaw (Stanford): 10/1
Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M): 15/1
Jim Harbaugh (Michigan): 30/1
Would yet another national title finally spur Saban onto a new challenge? Kelly, Mora, and Shaw are liked by NFL teams; after a few years of wooing, will they be able to resist the league any longer?
Kevin Sumlin is probably the best coach who’s ready to leave, given what’s going on at Texas A&M.
Harbaugh is going to be rumored every year, like Saban, but he just got to Michigan, and it’s hard to see him turning around and leaving until he wins a title for his alma mater.
(Photo credit: Matt Velazquez (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode].)