With April upon us, the spring football season will start winding to a close. Before you know it, preseason camp will be starting in August and we’ll be ready for another compelling college football season. Naturally, Alabama will begin the season as the defending national champions. But there are plenty of teams who will fancy themselves as legitimate championship contenders. Here is a closer look at some of the top betting favorites to win the 2019 NCAA Football national championship.
The Crimson Tide are usually heavy favorites to win the title, and this year is no different. Alabama has a lot of key players to replace, but Nick Saban always has five-star talent waiting in the wings. More importantly, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa appears ready to take the reigns after his heroics in the national championship game. Alabama also has a rather favorable schedule, so barring something unforeseen, the Tide is a safe bet to at least reach the four-team playoff.
Could we see Alabama and Clemson meet in the playoff for a fourth straight year? It’s not out of the question. The Tigers bring back quarterback Kelly Bryant and two quality running backs in Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne. On defense, a few players that could have turned pro will return to Clemson. Also, Dabo Swinney is almost as good as Saban at having players ready to step in after losing NFL-caliber talent, so expect the Tigers to stay nationally relevant by winning yet another ACC championship.
Ohio State, 7-1
The Buckeyes will have to replace J.T. Barrett at quarterback and a slew of other players who you’ll see on Sundays this fall. But Urban Meyer is never short on talent in Columbus. Ohio State will have a challenging schedule, but if they can avoid a slip up like last year and hold serve in the Big Ten, they’ll have the talent to beat anyone they play in the College Football Playoff.
The Bulldogs were painfully close to winning that long-awaited title last season, and don’t be surprised if they’re contenders again this year. Georgia’s dynamic backfield of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel is gone, but quarterback Jake Fromm took his team to the title game as a true freshman, and he should be ready to do more to lead the offense in 2018. The Bulldogs also return plenty of talent on defense and bring in arguably the top recruiting class in the country. There’s every chance Georgia will get a rematch with Alabama in the SEC title game, giving them a chance to play their way into the Playoff.
Jim Harbaugh has had trouble getting his team to the promised land since coming to Michigan, but this could be his most complete team. The Wolverines were outstanding on defense last year, and most of that unit is coming back this season. If Michigan can find the right quarterback among three viable candidates and get the offense going, the Wolverines have a chance to win the Big Ten and get into the four-team playoff.
Penn State, 16-1
James Franklin continues to build Penn State into a national championship contender, and this could be the year the Nittany Lions finally take that next step. Saquon Barkley is gone, but Penn State still has senior Trace McSorley at quarterback to lead the offense. Perhaps more importantly, the Nittany Lions will play most of their big games at home in Happy Valley, which could give them a slight edge in the Big Ten title race.
Playing in the lackluster Big Ten West division should make it easy for the Badgers to reach the Big Ten title game, giving them a nice path to the College Football Playoff. Even with tough road games against Michigan, Penn State, and Northwestern on the schedule, Wisconsin knows they have running back Jonathan Taylor to lean on. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook also returns with a year of experience under his belt. If he can take a step forward, the Badgers are not a team to overlook in the Big Ten this season.
Those schools may be the top favorites, but there’s always a sleeper or two ready to crash the party. For instance, the Miami Hurricanes have their swagger back after reaching the ACC title game last year, and at 28-1, they’re a team to watch. Washington, at 25-1, is another team to watch with senior quarterback Jake Browning still running the show after getting the Huskies to the playoff two seasons ago. Finally, don’t overlook Texas. Tom Herman made huge strides last season and have two experienced quarterbacks to lead them this season. In a wide-open Big 12, the Longhorns could rise to the top and become national championship contenders despite 40-1 odds.