Welcome to October! As we reach the midway point of the regular season for most teams, it is a good time to check on the National Title Futures Market.
Let’s go through the Top 10 teams at DraftKings Sportsbook and see if we can find some value.
Georgia Bulldogs +300
Number One Georgia has been unimpressive to begin their quest for three-peat. Yes, the Bulldogs are still undefeated, but they have played a hilariously easy schedule and were fortunate to win last week as a 14.5 favorite against a mediocre Auburn squad. Losing so many high-end draft picks to the NFL is starting to show up for Georgia as the defense is not quite as good as it has been over the past few seasons. The biggest difference so far with the Bulldogs is the quarterback. Now there was a time when plenty of people thought Georgia couldn’t win a title with Stetson Bennett as their quarterback but this version of Carson Beck is not good enough for Georgia to win two playoff games. Even with arguably the best skill position player in the country, Brock Bowers, the UGA offense is not close to a national title level right now. They are still the favorites and are still power-rated as the top team in the nation, but they are very vulnerable as we enter October. The one thing that Georgia has going for them is their schedule is very manageable. The three best teams they play all come to Athens (Kentucky, Missouri, and Ole Miss), there is a trip to Knoxville mixed in but the Vols are not good enough this year to beat Georgia. As of now, I can’t recommend taking a short price on the Bulldogs because the current version is not good enough to win it all again.
Michigan Wolverines +400
Michigan finally covered a game for the first time this season in Lincoln as they decimated the overmatched Cornhuskers. Through the first month of the season, the Wolverines look like the most complete team in the Country and we have not come close to seeing them at their best yet. J.J. McCarthy has played mistake-free, quality football in four of five games so far and has shown improvement from what he was a year ago. The Wolverines defense may very well be the best in the country. I realize they haven’t played a real opponent yet and they won’t face a real opponent until their 10th game of the season (at Penn State) but this defense is loaded at all levels and should continue to be dominant. The question for the BigTthree in the Big Ten East will be how do they handle playing each other. Michigan does go to Happy Valley on November 11th and then two weeks later hosts Ohio State. I do think Michigan is better than both the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes and if they win both games, the #1 seed in the College Football Playoff is likely for the Wolverines. +400 may be the best number you get for the rest of the season on Michigan. If you like it now is the time to bet the Wolverines to win it all.
Texas Longhorns +750
Through the first five weeks of the season, the Texas Longhorns have been the best team in the country. They have the best win by a pretty wide margin with beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Quinn Ewers has been great at the Quarterback position for Texas, he is currently +900 to win the Heisman Trophy at DraftKings Sportsbook. I think that is worth a look., The potential for Texas going 13-0 and making the College Football Playoff is there and with only Caleb Williams and Michael Penix Jr. having shorter odds, Ewers is worth a look now. If Texas hammers Oklahoma in Dallas on Saturday, +900 won’t be there again this season on Ewers. The talent has always been there in Austin It is awesome to see the results match the talent for once. Sark has done a great job through the first five games In two pretty significant letdown spots, the Horns have handled their business. Yes, they were helped by Jalon Daniels re-aggravating his back injury before last week’s game but Texas dominated the last quarter and a half to put Kansas away. The Texas defense is also the best and most consistent it has been in years and that very well may play out to be the difference for why Texas is going to end up in the College Football Playoff. As of this moment, the Longhorns are the nation’s best team, will it hold up? I think it will and after Texas smashes Oklahoma again in Dallas, you are not seeing +750 again this season. Texas +750 is my favorite shorter short play on the board right now.
Ohio State Buckeyes +750
The second Big Ten team on the board is the Buckeyes. There is no denying the quality skill position players Ohio State has, I would say they have the best skill position group in the Country and Marvin Harrison Jr. is pretty clearly the best non-QB in America. I am not a fan of what I have seen from Kyle McCord so far. He did deliver the game-winning drive in South Bend two weeks ago but other than that drive he was fairly unimpressive. The only game so far where McCord has looked like a National Championship-winning QB was against Western Kentucky. If Ohio State is going to be a real threat, they need McCord to be better. The defense has played well so far, they bent but didn’t break against Notre Dame and the Buckeyes will face an interesting test against undefeated Maryland this week. As I said above about Michigan, the same goes for Ohio State. How will they look against the other two elite teams in the Big Ten East? The Buckeyes will host Penn State on October 21st and of course, go to Ann Arbor on the final Saturday of the regular season. I think a split is the best case for Ohio State which will likely not be good enough to get them to Indianapolis. The number is too short at +750 on Ohio State, so this is a pass.
Florida State Seminoles +900
The final team with single-digit odds is Florida State. The question going into the season I had about the Noles was if they were capable of splitting their two huge September games against LSU and Clemson, and they were. Florida State really pummeled LSU in Orlando and didn’t have their “A” game at Clemson but still found a way to get the win. Yes, I realize that neither LSU nor Clemson are as good as we thought they would be going into the season but getting out
of those games 2-0 gives Florida State a spectacular chance to be in the College Football Playoff. The Seminoles will be favored in every game left on their schedule including the ACC Title Game and there is no excuse to not go 13-0 now (especially with Riley Leonard out for Duke). The big question now about FSU is how will they handle playing higher quality teams if they get into the College Football Playoff. I would like to see if the high-level play of Jordan Travis is sustainable. He was great against LSU and battled through not being 100% against Boston College and Clemson. This is the best Florida State team since their National Championship in 2013. I expect them to be in the playoff but I don’t think they are quite as good as the teams that will be there with FSU. This is close to a play but in the end, I’ll pass on this number on the Seminoles.
Penn State Nittany Lions 14/1
The third Big Ten East team in the Top 6, Penn State, is 5-0 and has won all of their games by at least 17 points. Drew Allar has protected the football so far this year but he has lacked the explosive play as he only has three completions of 20+ yards through the first month of the season. I expect the Penn State offense to improve as the season goes along and be fully ready for Ohio State in a few weeks. On the other side of the ball, the Nittany Lion defense has been stout, allowing less than 10 points per game, and no opponent has averaged north of 5 yards per play. I will take those numbers with a grain of salt because there is a legitimate chance that West Virginia has been the best offense Penn State has faced so far this year. The Nittany Lions have a bye week and then play UMASS before their big showdown with Ohio State in a few weeks and then will host Michigan on November 11th. The path is pretty simple- win both games and make the CFP. Split both games and hope the tiebreakers go your way or get swept and get a berth to New Year’s Six Bowl. I think Penn State is at best splitting the two big games on their schedule so even though the 14/1 seems juicy, I’ll pass on the Nittany Lions.
Washington Huskies 15/1
Now we get to the three Pac-12 teams that are given a reasonable shot to win the National Championship. Washington’s offense is the best in the country through the first month of the season. If I had a Heisman vote, I would vote for Michael Penix Jr. as his 16 touchdowns and 1,999 passing yards are 2nd and tops in the country respectively and Washington’s high-flying offense has not been slowed down yet. Washington’s defense has been solid but they have not faced an elite offense yet and they will face the best of the Pac-12 over the rest of the season. The biggest thing that makes me hesitant about Washington is their absolutely brutal remaining schedule. After a bye week this week, they host Oregon before getting two cupcakes in a row (Arizona State and Stanford). After the two cupcakes, the last four weeks of the season are extraordinarily difficult. I’m not sure that the Huskies can go unbeaten through a stretch of at USC, Utah, at Oregon State, and Washington State. If they do make it through, a rematch with either USC or Oregon in Las Vegas is likely. It is just too much to ask the Huskies to make it to
the end of the season at 12-1 which would probably be enough to make the CFP. I would like a better price if I were to take Washington in the futures market.
Oregon Ducks 16/1
The theme with these Pac-12 teams will be their remaining schedules. The Ducks are the most complete team in the conference., Their offense with Bo Nix is a Top 3 unit in the Pac 12 and their defense is the 2nd best in the conference. Oregon’s remaining schedule includes road games at Washington and Utah, and they get Wazzu, USC, and Oregon State in Eugene. All things considered, this is manageable. If the Ducks split those two big road games and sweep the home games, they will go to Las Vegas at 11-1 and will have a second crack at either Washington or USC. As wild as it may seem the Ducks actually do also benefit from their beatdown of Colorado even though the Buffs are seemingly an average football team. Of the three Pac-12 teams that have similar odds in the futures market, I give the Ducks the best shot to make the College Football Playoff, so this is a play this number.
USC Trojans 18/1
USC has the best player in College Football in Caleb Williams, they also have a Top 5 offense in the country. Williams is going to be the first overall pick in next year’s NFL and has a legitimate chance to be the first back-to-back Heisman Trophy winner since Archie Griffin. Even with all of the explosiveness on Lincoln Riley’s offense, I have no faith in the Trojans to make it through the regular season with less than two losses. They’ll be underdogs in road games at Notre Dame and at Oregon. They also have to host Utah and Washington The Utes have had USC’s number over the last few years and Washington is better than the Trojans. Even if the schedule was easier, I do not trust a defense that is coached by Alex Grinch. Oklahoma fans know all about Grinch’s lack of ability as a coordinator, and USC’s defense is the product of having a bottom-tier coordinator. USC is more likely to be 9-3 than make the CFP. Big-time pass on the Trojans.
Oklahoma Sooners 25/1
The Sooners ride into Dallas at 5-0, Oklahoma has the best defense they have had in years, they had a slow start last week against Iowa State but then they dominated the second half en route to a 30-point victory. I had plenty of questions about Brent Venables after last year’s debacle but the program seems to be going in the right direction now. Dillon Gabriel has been excellent after a strange year last season and even though you would like the Sooners to have been a little more efficient in the games against SMU and Cincy it has been a very good start to the year for the OU offense. Now comes the showdown in Dallas against Texas. As I wrote earlier,
the Longhorns have been the best team in the country through the first month of the season and are nearly touchdown favorites over the Sooners. I do think Texas will beat Oklahoma but hope is not lost for Oklahoma. The Sooners have a very manageable schedule and will be favorites in every game left so they should be able to make it to Arlington for a rematch against Texas. A 12-1 Oklahoma team will have a good chance to sneak into CFP. The problem would be that they would only have one high-end win and that may not be enough this season with the strength of the Pac-12 and a likely 13-0 ACC Champion. I also would not be shocked if the Sooners lost in Lawrence the final week of October (Jalen Daniels needs to be healthy for that to possibly happen). In the end, I just think too much around the country would have to go right for OU to make the CFP so I don’t like the 25/1 to win it all.