2015 BCS National Championship Outlook
The next National title game is nearly a year away, and the format with which a championship game will be decided will be drastically different, yet odds are out and that means an opportunity to identify value.
First off, it needs to be noted that the SEC will be incredibly vulnerable next season, with some top-flight passers moving on, notable Alabama’s AJ McCarron, Georgia’s Aaron Murray, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, South Carolina’s Connor Shaw, and of course, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. After failing to win the national title for the first time in eight seasons, we could see the SEC fail to produce the national champion for the second year in a row. Even still, seven of the top 14 highest odds belong to SEC schools, presenting value elsewhere. However, many of the gaudy numbers are gone after Auburn gave some sportsbooks fits last year, so it’s probably best to look more towards the middle of the pack for value.
Here are 10 teams worthy of a closer look for 2015 national title consideration, even if the game is more than 11 months away. Lines courtesy BetOnline.
Florida State Seminoles +300
No conversation on the 2014-15 national championship would be complete without mentioning the defending national champions. The Seminoles return many of their top players, including quarterback Jameis Winston, and have already planned for the hit they took at running back. However, they will play with targets on their backs all season.
Michigan State Spartans +2000
A win in the Rose Bowl has the Spartans flying high into the offseason. Many key pieces will be returning to a team that brings a lot of momentum into this upcoming season, and the Big Ten has been ripe for the picking in recent years.
UCLA Bruins +2000
Just about everything Jim Mora’s touched has turned to gold at UCLA, and getting quarterback Brett Hundley back for another year is huge. If the chips fall right, the Bruins could break through in the Pac-12 title game this year and find themselves playing for a bigger trophy.
LSU Tigers +2500
We all know how bad LSU can look when they don’t have a quarterback, and while Mettenberger’s departure leaves them in a state of flux, a dominant defense is always a given in Death Valley, and Leonard Fournette is expected to provide a huge boon to the offense at running back.
South Carolina Gamecocks +2500
Similar to LSU, South Carolina will be searching for a new quarterback this spring, but how important was Connor Shaw, really? Losing Jadeveon Clowney hurts more, and Steve Spurrier may be getting a little too caught up in the Clemson rivalry, but the Ol’ Ball Coach always seems to have something up his sleeve.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish +3300
The Irish get quarterback Everett Golson back this year after he missed the entire 2013 campaign, and we all know what Brian Kelly can do when he has a quarterback. If the defense can overcome the losses of Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III, they’ll be a team to watch out for.
Texas Longhorns +3300
As always, there’s plenty of talent at Texas, and while Mack Strong may not have his guys in place quite yet, with a strong recruiting effort, he could have this team turned around and competing for a national title in short order.
USC Trojans +3300
Similar to the situation in Texas, Steve Sarkisian walks into a new setting (although he did serve as an assistant at USC under Pete Carroll) and won’t have his guys with him, but there will still be plenty of talent on the roster for him to work with.
Arizona State Sun Devils +5000
Arizona State has seemed to take a step forward each year under Todd Graham, and after playing incredible football on both sides of the ball next season, a breakthrough to the next level isn’t out of the question.
Louisville Cardinals +5000
Bobby Petrino’s first task in his second stint with the Cardinals will be to find a quarterback, but many of the other spots are already filled after some strong years of recruiting by Mack Brown. A cupcake schedule isn’t the worst thing, either.