Following a topsy-turvy 2020-21 NCAA Football season, turned upside down by the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, fans are looking for a return to normal in the next season or as close to some semblance of normal as its possible in the midst of the ongoing pandemic that continues to rage in the background.
When all was said and done, the NCAAF Championship game delivered a stellar final between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State Buckeyes. As per expectations and the ncaa football odds, the top-ranked Crimson Tide proved to be too much for the Buckeyes, going on to win resoundingly in a lopsided 52-24 final.
Both Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes figure to be dominant teams next season despite both sides losing their starting quarterbacks to the NFL. Mac Jones was drafted by the New England Patriots with the No.15 selection in the first round while Justin Fields was drafted by the Chicago Bears, who traded up in the draft to the No.11 spot to snap up the highly touted prospect. Both colleges have well established programs that have been churning out talent by the dozens in recent memory and high expectations precede both to live up to their top rankings – they’re ranked No.1 and No.2 respectively in AP Top 25 NCAAF rankings.
Will the Crimson Tide pick up from where they left off? Will the Buckeyes pick up from where they left off? What other teams might also be amongst the top contenders in the much anticipated 2021-22 NCAA season? It remains to be seen how the upcoming season unfolds, but there are some key changes that could have an impact. Here we look at the top 5 NCAAF teams ranked and serve up some thoughts to consider.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide have bid adieu to offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian as he’s moved on to Texas during the offseason. Crimson Tide’s offense was one of the most explosive in college football and without Sarkisian running the unit it’s certainly going to look different. In particular because Bill O’Brien is set to take over the helm. The former Houston Texans GM and head coach was unceremoniously fired early in the 2020-21 NFL season as the Texans got off to one of the worst starts during O’Brien’s tenure with the organization. How O’Brien adjusts to the college game remains to be seen but for now they remain the team to beat according to bookmakers in the race to another championship title in 2021..
2. Clemson Tigers
The Clemson Tigers begin life without Trevor Lawrence in 2021 as their highly coveted quarterback who was dubbed by many as a “generational prospect” was drafted No.1 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2021 NFL draft. Oddsmakers remain high on the Tigers, tipping them as the second best bet overall in the NCAAF betting markets but whoever emerges as the starting quarterback is going to have big shoes to fill. If that’s not pressure, what is? It’s likely that D.J. Uiagalelei will takeover unless another quarterback materialises to steal the starting job. Uiagalelei threw for 781 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in two 2020 starts (including at Notre Dame). There’s no shortage of talent at Clemson but how it comes together is another matter.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes
By the NCAAF odds, the Buckeyes are pegged as the third best bet to spot in the betting after finishing runner-up to the Crimson Tide in the National Championship game. However, they’ve said goodbye to their star quarterback Justin Fields, who’s moved on to the greener pastures of the NFL. It’s absolutely unclear who the starting quarterback in the coming season will be with a quarterback competition looming between Jack Miller, C.J. Sprout and Kyle McCord,. Until the Buckeye’s starting position is decided it’s really going to be difficult to tell whether the odds as the currently stand are truly merited and whether a championship is really on the cards in 2021 for Ohio State.
4. Oklahoma Sooners
Although the AP Top 25 rankings see the Sooners sitting in sixth place overall after Texas AM and Notre Dame, oddsmakers rate Oklahoma’s chances in the upcoming 2021-22 NCAAF season higher. This raised expectations have something to do with the winning manner in which the Sooners closed out the last eight games of the 2020 season. Quarterback Spencer Rattler had a solid campaign, finishing with 3,031 passing yards, 28 TDs and seven interceptions, He also had six rushing TDs. Rattler has some solid offensive weapons such as Theo Wease and Marvin Mims but their defense was stout down the stretch allowing merely 17 points per game on average in the last seven games. If the Sooners can build on the promise of 2020, they could be one of the surprise packages next year.
5. Texas A&M
Rounding out the top 5 teams according to multiple top-rated sportsbooks are the Texas AM Aggies who are ranked fourth overall by the AP Top 25 according to ESPN. The Aggies are coming off a solid season in 2020 led by quarterback Kellen Mond navigating an offense that ranked third overall in the nation in time of possession and averaged 439 yards and 33 points per game. They were also third in nation in converting on third downs, which is a key statistic in determining the potency of an offense and how clutch it is under pressure. The offensive talent at Texas AM is pretty impressive and includes two players to watch: RB Isaiah Spiller to WR Ainias Smith. The defense was stout in 2020 and should be one of the better units in the upcoming season as well.