Clemson +245 (1 unit)
Alabama +245 (1 unit)
Georgia +750 (0.4 units)
I’m sure somewhere out there you can combine the three in to one clean bet, but I couldn’t find it. Is it fun to take the top three teams? No, not really, but I enjoy making more money than I lose. If either of the two favorites wins, you’ll make 1.05 units. If Georgia wins, you win a unit even.
I’ll never say a bet can’t lose, but…this is pretty close. For starters, Alabama and Clemson have won the last four national championships and they’ve played each other three times in the title game. The only other team to make it to the final game is Georgia.
It’s not just that Bama and Clemson get to the final game, it’s that they haven’t been remotely tested in the semifinals. Aside from the time that they played each other, the two of them have combined to win their semifinal games by an AVERAGE of 24 PPG. Oklahoma was the “closest” to beating one of them when they lost by 11 to Alabama last year, but the game was quickly 28-0 and from that point the game was never within single digits.
The only team that has come close to beating either of these two in a postseason situation lately is Georgia. If we’re tiering college football, Tier 1 is Alabama and Clemson, Tier 2 is Georgia and maybe Oklahoma, and then there’s everybody else.
The Sooners just haven’t had the defense to finish the job. That may change with the addition of DC Alex Grinch, but I just can’t see the offense being as good this year with Hurts at QB.
Ohio State is a possibility, but the post-Urban world is a little murky for them. Michigan hasn’t made a Big Ten championship, let alone win one, let alone made the playoff, so color me a little skeptical that they can win a national championship against the behemoths. LSU has the talent, but the offense never seems good enough and their games with Alabama have shown that.
I don’t think there’s anybody else in the country with the talent to sniff a victory against the top two in a postseason game.
2018 Notre Dame (#12), 2017 Georgia (#15), 2016 Washington (#14), 2015 Clemson (#12), 2015 Oklahoma (#19)
Those are the five teams in the last four years that have come from the AP Preseason #11-20 range that have ended up making the playoff. So it’s happened annually from the last four years and it happened twice in 2015. It didn’t happen in the inaugural season of the Playoff.
Here’s the #11-20 teams this year:
Oregon, Texas A&M, Washington, Utah, Penn State, Auburn, UCF, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa
There’s a common trait among the teams that have come from this group to make the playoff: they don’t play many other postseason Top 10 teams throughout the year. Obviously projecting the postseason Top 10 is pretty difficult, but you can probably get close.
Only 2017 Georgia and 2015 Oklahoma played other postseason Top 10 teams throughout the year. Oklahoma played #7 TCU at home and won by one. 2017 Georgia played at Auburn and got slaughtered. The Bulldogs then flipped the script and beat the Tigers in the SEC championship.
And losing a game is usually fine. Notre Dame and Clemson both went undefeated, but the other three all dropped a game.
So with that information, I’m making a few cuts based on schedule difficulty: A&M, Penn State, Auburn, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
That leaves the three Pac-12 teams and UCF. We can also cut UCF because we’ve all seen what happens with them in the Playoff rankings.
So you’re left with three Pac-12 teams to choose from. Pick your choice. I think Washington has way too much to replace to make a run. The defense was depleted and they lose their all-time leading passer and rusher on offense.
There’s not a huge difference in schedule difficulty between Oregon and Utah and they’re priced the same. I just like Oregon’s potential a little more.
Justin Herbert +2500
Adrian Martinez +2000
There’s been a formula to winning the Heisman the last decade: be an Alabama RB or be the QB on a team that wins 9+ games and put up huge stats in the process.
Trevor and Tua are the obvious favorites, but recent history suggests they shouldn’t be. Of the eight QB’s who have taken the trophy home, here’s where their teams ranked in the preseason: 22, NR, NR, 11, 3, 19, 7, 7. That doesn’t bode well for two guys who are on dominant teams and may miss a lot of opportunities to pad stats due to rest.
That still leaves quite a few options to choose from if you just leave the criteria at 9+ win team and great stats.
To narrow it down, I think you have to look away from QBs with a star RB next to them that might draw attention away. Here’s the last eight QBs to win and their RBs they shared the backfield with:
|2010||Cam Newton||Michael Dyer|
|2011||Robert Griffin III||Terrance Ganaway|
|2012||Johnny Manziel||Ben Malena|
|2013||Jameis Winston||Devonta Freeman|
|2014||Marcus Mariota||Royce Freeman|
|2016||Lamar Jackson||Brandon Radcliff|
|2017||Baker Mayfield||Rodney Anderson|
|2018||Kyler Murray||Trey Sermon|
Not exactly a star-studded list, especially in name recognition. A few of these guys were freshmen, including Michael Dyer and Rolls Royce Freeman. Devonta Freeman is the biggest name on the list, but at the time he was just another guy in the eyes of most people. Devonta has been a much more recognizable name in the NFL than he ever was in college.
That’s why I’m not betting on Jake Fromm or Justin Fields. D’Andre Swift and JK Dobbins are too big of names and draw attention away from their QBs.
That still leaves quite a few possibilities, but I don’t like D’Eriq King or JT Daniels because I don’t think their teams are good enough and I don’t think guys like Brock Purdy or Bryce Perkins can win because their teams just don’t get much of a national spotlight.
Sam Ehlinger is a great candidate, but I’m a Texas doubter and their schedule’s pretty difficult
Jalen Hurts is a good QB, but I don’t think he’ll put up nearly the stats that Mayfield and Murray did.
I like guys like Joe Burrow and Shea Patterson, but they play on defensive-minded, run-first teams and I also don’t think they can get the numbers needed.
I’ve already given my thoughts on Oregon and if they can make the playoff, Herbert will be a big reason why. I’m not as gung-ho on Nebraska as a lot of people seem to be, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they win nine or ten games and if they do, it’ll almost be entirely because of Martinez.
SEASON WIN TOTAL RECAP
20 official picks this year. Here’s all 130 picks in Excel screenshot form: