With the college football season quickly approaching, the NCAA futures betting market continues to heat up. An evolving betting market, taking an early stand often leads to finding favorable Vegas betting odds. This year’s National Championship landscape looks no different for our college football betting picks. This piece will discuss the best college football bets and which teams have the best Vegas odds to win the 2021 National Championship.
Best College Football Bets: National Championship Picks
NCAA Picks: The Favorites
Alabama +250 (BetMGM)
Defending champion Alabama again has the shortest odds to win the National Championship. Unlike 2020, the Crimson Tide replaced an enormous amount of production, including six first-round picks. In total, Alabama lost 10 players to the Draft. However, they recruited the top freshman class and routinely bring in the best prospects in the country. Projected starting quarterback Bryce Young ranked as the No. 2 player in the country last year. Alabama also returns two full-time starters and four players with starting experience on the offensive line. Unlike previous teams, Alabama returns eight starters on defense. This includes three All-Conference players in Christopher Allen, Willie Anderson and Malachi Moore. They also added All-Conference Tennessee transfer Henry To’o To’o, making this a throwback Alabama defense. As for scheduling, Alabama draws a tough Miami team in their opener. They also draw road games against Florida and Texas A&M. With LSU also on the schedule at home, Alabama will certainly face roadblocks to an undefeated season. Fortunately, they have a strong run game and defense to fall back on if Young goes through a learning curve. While favored for a reason, these odds do not fully bake in Alabama’s transitioning offense.
Clemson +400 (FanDuel)
Clemson has taken down six straight ACC titles. Like Alabama, Clemson underwent seismic shifts this offseason with the departures of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Fortunately, Clemson broke in their 2020 starter D.J. Uiagalelei when Lawrence missed a pair of games due to Covid-19. Facing Boston College and Notre Dame, Uiagalelei eclipsed 300 yards passing in each game and had five touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also returns three starting offensive linemen and stud receiver Justyn Ross from injury. Also recruiting five-star running back Will Shipley, this offense should not miss a beat. Their defense also returns nine starters despite losing All-ACC players Mike Jones and Derion Kendrick to the transfer portal. From a scheduling perspective, Clemson faces their toughest opponent in Week 1 against Georgia. From there they dodge Miami and North Carolina. Playing perhaps the easiest schedule in the ACC, Clemson should sleepwalk their way to the ACC title game and likely the College Football Playoff. Also returning more production than Alabama, grabbing Clemson at +400 to win the National Championship makes sense.
Georgia +800 (SugarHouse)
After playing in Alabama’s shadow for the entire College Football Playoff era, Georgia looks to finally take the next step. Fortunately, Georgia returns a powerhouse team, led by stud quarterback J.T. Daniels. A team typically predicated on the run, Georgia returns their top five running backs and three starters on the offensive line. While George Pickens‘ injury hurts, Georgia still has two of their top three receivers from last year. They also have a pair of stud tight ends in LSU transfer Arik Gilbert and 2020 five-star recruit Darnell Washington. On defense they return just five starters, but they landed two premier transfers in Kendrick from Clemson and West Virginia’s Tykee Smith. As for schedule, Georgia opens against Clemson in the best non-conference game of the year. In SEC play their toughest opponent is Florida until they potentially reach the SEC championship. Georgia should capitalize on their returning production here.
Ohio State +600 (FanDuel)
Ohio State is coming off back-to-back College Football Playoff berths. However, this team now moves forward without Justin Fields. They also return just six starters on offense and five on defense. Like the other powerhouse programs, Ohio State recruits at an elite level. This year former four-star C.J. Stroud projects to take over at quarterback. He will throw to the best receiver tandem in football between Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. They also return three full-time offensive line starters, including future first-round pick Thayer Munford. Ohio State’s defense also looks strong despite losing six starters. They return three players on the defensive line with starting experience and add the No. 4 player in the country in Jack Sawyer. While they need to replace the entire linebacking corps, Ohio State also returns seven of their top eight defensive backs. As for opponents, Ohio State draws a dangerous opponent in Oregon in non-conference play. In the Big Ten they play the usual suspects in the East but dodge Wisconsin and Iowa in the West. For Big Ten standards, Ohio State plays an easy schedule and should find themselves vying for a playoff spot again in 2021. At +600, they are a decent bet to win the National Championship.
Oklahoma +800 (FanDuel)
After three straight College Football Playoff appearances, Oklahoma narrowly missed the mark with an 8-2 season last year. In the playoff era Oklahoma has had no problem making the playoff. Winning it has been a different story entirely. However, Oklahoma has one of the best rosters on paper ahead of the 2021 season. The Sooners return Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler and all three of their top receivers, including freshman breakout Marvin Mims. The offensive line combines for 126 career starts between their three returning starters and marquee transfers Wanya Morris and Robert Congel. In the run game they return two-time 1,000-yard rusher Kennedy Brooks and add stud Tennessee transfer Eric Gray. On defense they return eight starters to a unit making drastic improvements since the hiring of Alex Grinch as defensive coordinator. Oklahoma faces a relatively easy non-conference schedule before drawing Iowa State, TCU and Texas within the Big 12. While each of those opponents is solid by Big 12 standards, Oklahoma has a solid chance at an undefeated season here. With many of the other big college football programs rebuilding, this could be the year Oklahoma finally makes the jump to National Title contender.
Best Bet: Georgia +800
NCAA Picks: The Underdogs
LSU +5000 (FanDuel)
LSU won the 2019 National Championship but regressed to 5-5 in 2020. While they started slow, LSU improved steadily throughout the season and knocked off Florida towards the end of the season. This year they return nine starters on both sides of the ball. At quarterback Myles Brennan looks like the early favorite to start, but Max Johnson will also battle for this job. Johnson led LSU to their win over Florida and offers more as a dual threat. As for skill players, LSU returns their top two rushers and two of their top four receivers. This includes freshman breakout and leading receiver Kayshon Boutte. On the offensive line LSU returns their entire starting unit and their backups. On defense, they lost just Jabril Cox and Jacoby Stevens. This fierce unit will be headlined by Derrick Stingley, Eli Ricks and Ali Gaye. Add in Clemson and Georgia transfers Mike Jones and Major Burns, and this unit has SEC-winning potential. LSU opens against UCLA on the road. In conference play they draw road games against Alabama and Ole Miss. They will also face Texas A&M and Florida at home. While the schedule is as tough as they come, LSU’s roster is worth taking a shot on at +5000 in the National Championship market.
USC +5000 (BetMGM)
The PAC-12 has only made the playoff one time, represented by Washington in 2016. However, an undefeated PAC-12 champion provides a clear path to a longshot College Football Playoff berth and potential National Champion. This year, USC looks like the team with the best chances of making that happen. The Trojans return potential first round draft pick Kedon Slovis at quarterback along with stud receivers Drake London and Bru McCoy. Adding strong transfers in Colorado’s K.D. Nixon and Memphis’ Tahj Washington, this unit should pace the conference. On the offensive line, they lose Alijah Vera-Tucker, but return six players with starting experience, accounting for 75 starts between them. Also returning eight starters on defense, USC has an experience advantage in a weak conference. Further improving matters, USC plays a winnable schedule. While they face Notre Dame in non-conference play, the Trojans dodge Washington and Oregon within the PAC-12. Their toughest opponents look like Arizona State and Utah, giving them a path to an undefeated season and a PAC-12 title shot. At +5,000 taking the potential PAC-12 champion provides enough upside to sprinkle a small wager here.
Wisconsin +5000 (SugarHouse)
While the Big Ten has made the College Football Playoff five times, Ohio State has accounted for four of those appearance. With Michigan State making it in 2015, a Big Ten West team has never made the jump. However, the Big Ten West remains one of the weakest divisions in College Football. With an upset win over Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, a Big Ten West team could easily find themselves in the College Football Playoff. This year, Wisconsin looks like the team with best chance to make this happen. Wisconsin returns eight of their top 10 offensive linemen along with former four-star rusher Jalen Berger. Clemson transfer Chez Mellusi also adds depth to the backfield traditionally near the top of the country. With Graham Mertz entering his second year at quarterback, the offense has all the pieces in place for a bounce back year. On defense, Wisconsin returns eight starters to a unit that ranked ninth in points per game allowed. They also play perhaps the easiest schedule in the Big Ten. Wisconsin faces Notre Dame in non-conference play at a neutral location, but otherwise faces just Iowa at home. They dodge Ohio State from the East and play only four true road games all year. With an upset over Ohio State, Wisconsin could finally push their way towards a National Championship.
Best Bet: LSU +5000
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