We’re in the midst of Week 6 in NCAA football and starting to see the true contenders surface, while the pretenders are quickly dropping from the rankings. While some of the storylines have been predictable (Alabama and Christian McCaffrey are good), others have taken us by surprise, such as the Houston Cougars’ dramatic rise, the Sooners’ free-fall, and Lamar Jackson’s Heisman efforts in Louisville.
While these stories have been prevalent, there’s still lots of football to be played and nothing is settled just yet. But that doesn’t mean we can’t give you an update of which teams have the shortest odds to win the College Football Playoffs, and which players are breaking from the pack in the Heisman race.
Odds to win the College Football Playoffs
Alabama Crimson Tide: 7/2
The Crimson Tide are 4-0 heading into Week 6, and have two wins over ranked teams: USC and Ole Miss. (Believe it or not, the Trojans were ranked when they played.)
While we’ve come to expect Nick Saban’s defense to be dominant – and it has been (15th in total defense, and 14th in points allowed) – his offense has never finished a season ranked in the top ten. That may change this season with the help of super-freshman Jalen Hurts and the lethal duo of Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart. Currently, the Bama offense ranks eighth in points per game (46.5) and it will only get better as their freshman quarterback gains experience.
Alabama has a tough month ahead of them with Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas A&M on their October calendar – all ranked teams. But Saban’s group is only proving better than we originally expected. They remain the odds-on favorite to defend their National Championship.
Ohio State Buckeyes: 5/1
Despite losing so many key players from last season to the NFL, the Buckeyes have reloaded and J.T. Barrett has lived up to the hype.
The Buckeyes offense is averaging 56.7 points per game (third in the nation), and ranks tenth in yards per game; their defense is ninth in points allowed, and 14th in yards.
However, Ohio State really hasn’t been tested yet this season, only beating one ranked team, and that team (Oklahoma) has since fallen from the top-25. We can’t discredit them for their light early season schedule, but it will start getting a lot tougher for Urban Meyer’s squad soon enough – starting with Wisconsin on October 15. Until we know otherwise, they remain the second-best team in the nation.
Clemson Tigers: 7/1
Deshaun Watson has his Tigers sitting pretty at 4-0, but he and the rest of the offense have not been as explosive as we all expected. The unit ranks 53rd in points per game and 47th in yards per game. This becomes even more alarming when you consider they haven’t played any ranked teams yet.
Their recipe for success this season has been to cook up some defense; the unit is only allowing 11 points per game (fifth). But Troy is the only capable offense it’s faced so far.
Just like Ohio State, we can’t knock Clemson for the soft schedule, and will continue to believe that Watson and Wayne Gallman will get this offense back on track. We don’t have to wait much longer to see Clemson do battle with a top team, as they have no. 3 Louisville this weekend.
If their defense can continue to prove they haven’t lost a step from last season, the Tigers will be playing into late December. First step: slow down Lamar Jackson.
Louisville Cardinals: 7/1
Michigan Wolverines: 15/1
Houston Cougars: 22/1
Washington Huskies: 22/1
Tennessee Volunteers: 33/1
Florida State Seminoles: 35/1
Stanford Cardinal: 35/1
Texas A&M Aggies: 35/1
Florida Gators: 50/1
Wisconsin Badgers: 50/1
Iowa Hawkeyes: 75/1
Miami, Fl. Gators: 75/1
Texas Longhorns: 75/1
Heisman Trophy Odds
Lamar Jackson, QB (Louisville): 7/6
Jackson’s 25 combined touchdowns in 2016 are more than no. 1 Alabama (24) and no. 2 Ohio State (23) have scored as a team. There are also 123 other FBS teams you can add to that list.
The sophomore quarterback has rightfully started drawing comparisons to Michael Vick, being one of the most dangerous dual-threat pivots we have ever seen. If Jackson can somehow keep this pace, he will run away with the Heisman.
While his pace is likely to slow, he has a great opportunity to set himself further from the crowd this weekend when he goes head-to-head with pre-season favorite Deshaun Watson.
Christian McCaffrey, RB (Stanford): 8/1
The dynamic Cardinal back is 15th in the nation in rushing yards (436) and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, while adding 119 yards receiving (prior to his Week 6 game against Washington). McCaffrey is the reason Stanford is able to move the ball, and what he has done thus far is even more impressive knowing he is their entire offense.
He hasn’t been able to correct the one knock on him from last year, though: a lack of touchdowns. In three games, McCaffrey has only found his way to the endzone four times. However, those four scores do account for 57-percent of Stanford’s touchdowns.
The Cardinal have some weaker PAC-12 foes later in the season, and McCaffrey will have his opportunity to pad his stats.
QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson): 9/1
QB J.T. Barrett (Ohio State): 10/1
LB Jabrill Peppers (Michigan): 25/1
RB Dalvin Cook (Florida State): 33/1
QB Greg Ward Jr. (Houston): 40/1
QB Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech): 40/1
RB Leonard Fournette (LSU): 50/1
QB Chad Kelly (Ole Miss): 66/1
Photo credit: Matt Velazquez (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/].