2023 CFB title odds: Early value behind co-favorites Alabama, Georgia
Kirby Smart has his work cut out for him if Georgia's going to repeat as champion. While the majority of the offense returns, the Bulldogs have to replace the bulk of their defensive starters. There's a lot of talent coming through the ranks, but it's inevitable that this unit will take a step back - especially the front seven, with Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, Nakobe Dean, and Channing Tindall all turning pro.
While Georgia is expected to take a small hit, Alabama should be even better next season with Heisman winner Bryce Young and likely top-three pick Will Anderson both returning. Those who are departing will be replaced by a historically good 2021 recruiting class plus transfer portal arrivals in former Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs and ex-LSU cornerback Eli Ricks.
A title rematch isn't out of the question, the competition will be stiff.
*Only listing teams with odds 50-1 or shorter
Ohio State (+800)
The likeliest challenger to the two SEC powerhouses, and priced accordingly, Ohio State is primed to return to the College Football Playoff. Despite losing a pair of first-round talents at wide receiver, the offense won't miss a beat with Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison Jr. catching passes from C.J. Stroud. With TreVeyon Henderson returning at running back, the unit could be close to unstoppable.
The defense will need to pull its weight, but with Jim Knowles arriving from Oklahoma State to coach a talented group that underachieved in 2021, there's reason to believe.
It'll be a fascinating season in Death Valley with Dabo Swinney overhauling his coaching staff after Tony Elliott and Brent Venables took jobs at Virginia and Oklahoma, respectively. Defensively, Clemson really grew into the 2021 campaign and should be very strong next season with Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy anchoring the line.
For Clemson to compete for national titles again, the offense has to step up and match the defense's success. Returning virtually every offensive starter should help, but DJ Uiagalelei needs to make strides for this team to return to the top of a rapidly improving ACC (though four-star freshman Cade Klubnik is lurking).
After Michigan finally got over the hump in 2021, rumors linking Jim Harbaugh back to the NFL are swirling. With or without the head coach, however, the Wolverines look likely to take a back seat to Ohio State again in 2022. While Mike Macdonald did an excellent job with the defense in his first season as coordinator, there are massive holes to fill with Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo gone, among others.
The Wolverines do get a friendly schedule - their toughest tests en route to closing out the regular season at Ohio State are road games in Iowa City and East Lansing.
It'll be hard to take Oklahoma seriously as a contender in Brent Venables' first season unless Caleb Williams has a change of heart and returns to Norman. His departure seems inevitable after Dillon Gabriel's arrival, though, and while the offense should be exciting, a wave of departures on defense makes this very much a transitional year for the Sooners.
Texas A&M (+4000)
With a number of key starters leaving, the Aggies need younger guys to step up, but this roster is absolutely loaded with talent. Jimbo Fisher's top-ranked 2022 recruiting class represents their fourth straight ranking inside the top eight, injecting an abundance of skill into College Station.
Pushing Alabama in a stacked SEC West, though, will take strong play from either Max Johnson or Haynes King. A solid receiving corps will help, but it's worth wondering whether Caleb Williams finds his way to Kyle Field. If Jimbo can make that happen, the Aggies immediately become legitimate SEC and national contenders.
Anticipation is high as the Lincoln Riley era begins in SoCal. With Kedon Slovis off to Pittsburgh, Jaxson Dart is the latest USC quarterback to enter the portal, fueling speculation that Caleb Williams could follow Riley to L.A. While that would drastically accelerate the program's rebuild, Alex Grinch still has a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball, and the Trojans are a bit lacking in firepower at the skill positions with Drake London turning pro. Riley will do well to contend for a Pac-12 title in his first season; a national championship looks to be out of reach for now.
Notre Dame (+8000)
Despite a disappointing end to the 2021 campaign, it's fair to say Notre Dame overachieved in what was expected to be a transitional year. Claims that the Irish deserved a spot in the playoff were unfounded, but it's tough to poke holes in a 2022 schedule that sees them face Ohio State, Clemson, BYU, and USC. A trip to Ohio State begins Marcus Freeman's first season as coach, one of a handful of can't-miss Week 1 matchups.
Oklahoma State (+17000)
Oklahoma State can make a case as the Big 12's best team entering 2022 after the Cowboys were inches away from a conference title this past season. With Spencer Sanders and the bulk of the offense returning, the team's success will hinge on whether the defense can overcome the loss of leading tacklers Malcolm Rodriguez and Devin Harper, along with coordinator Jim Knowles.
If the Pokes can manage that, they'll be on the national radar again. The schedule is friendly and the toughest tests are trips to Waco and Norman, so an undefeated regular season isn't out of the question.
Despite being listed below Oregon, USC, Arizona State, and UCLA on the oddsboard, Utah should be considered a favorite to repeat in the Pac-12 under Kyle Whittingham, presumably with a full season of Cameron Rising at quarterback. The Utes might have finished 12-1 if Rising had started all of 2021, which would have made a CFP spot a distinct possibility.
Utah has some departing starters to replace, as does every program, but Whittingham has loaded this roster with talent and it shouldn't miss a beat. The schedule is tough, featuring road games at Florida, Arizona State, UCLA, and Oregon, but that also means there will be no denying the Utes a playoff berth should they emerge as one-loss Pac-12 champions.
NC State (+23000)
The Wolfpack will be among the nation's leaders in returning production in 2022: Nearly every defensive starter will be back, as will the bulk of the offense. That includes quarterback Devin Leary, who will look to build off a terrific season in which he threw for nearly 3,500 yards with a 35-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
They should have no issues starting the season strong - their non-conference schedule features East Carolina, Charleston Southern, Texas Tech, and Connecticut, with all four games in North Carolina. Dave Doeren's team will be favored in every game this season except its trip to Clemson, and NC State beat the Tigers in 2021. The ACC Atlantic Division race will be fascinating, and the Wolfpack should be firmly in the mix along with Clemson and Wake Forest.
Cincinnati paved the way in 2021 by becoming the first Group of 5 program to reach the College Football Playoff. Could AAC rival Houston be next? The Cougars return most of their key pieces on offense - including Clayton Tune, Alton McCaskill, and Nathaniel Dell - while the defense remains loaded, especially up front, and brings back coordinator Doug Belk.
The AAC schedule has yet to be released, but Houston is unquestionably the conference's top team with Cincinnati rebuilding. There's nothing scary about the non-conference schedule either, so an undefeated season isn't out of the question for Dana Holgorsen's Cougars. If a few other things fall their way, the AAC could get a second shot at the playoff in as many seasons.
Few teams will return as many starters as BYU, which brings back QB Jaren Hall, four offensive linemen, and everyone on defense. Continuity will be key in BYU's final season as an independent before joining the Big 12 in 2023. Should the Cougars survive a strong schedule featuring games against Baylor, Arkansas, Oregon, and Notre Dame, there will be no doubting their title credentials.
Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.
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