This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
2023-24 CFP National Championship Longshots, Darkhorses, and Picks
Spring practices are kicking off across the country and we're starting to look ahead to the 2023 season. Of course, any proper lookahead involves taking a gander at the college football national championship odds, which are already live at many sportsbooks.
Part of RotoWire's college football betting braintrust, Chris Bennett and Jake Blanchard, has taken a deep dive into the odds to determine their best bets for the National Championship for bettors looking to get in early before lines change over the spring and summer.
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2023 College Football National Championship Odds
- Georgia +240 (DraftKings)
- Alabama +500 (DraftKings)
- Ohio State +750 (DraftKings)
- Michigan +1000 (DraftKings)
- USC +1600 (FanDuel)
- LSU +1800 (FanDuel)
- Clemson +2000 (FanDuel)
- Florida State +2500 (PointsBet)
- Penn State +2500 (DraftKings)
- Notre Dame +3300 (PointsBet)
2023-24 National Championship Picks and Best Bets
Chris Bennett's Breakdown
In looking towards January of 2024 and the College Football Playoff, we've got the usual suspects heading the betting odds. Georgia (+240) opens as the favorite to three-peat, with Alabama (+500) and Ohio State (+750) just behind. And that makes all the sense in the world, when those three teams have combined for 16 appearances in the playoffs, 44.4 percent of the entire field. But what none of them have for the 2023 season is a returning starting quarterback.
In considering the Bulldogs, their roster turnover will put to the test just how far above the rest of the college football world they truly are. But from a betting perspective, I don't find the odds to be worth the risk. A $20 bet returns only $48, which just doesn't seem worth the risk or longevity in waiting for a payout. If backing one of the favorites, the question becomes does Alabama bounce back, and/or does Ohio State finally get over the hump and knock off an SEC team. Given the rebuilding both SEC schools have to do, I think I'd give a slight nod to the Buckeyes, especially with the better odds. It's truly difficult to back most of the rest of the field; we're trying to pinpoint a team or teams that can actually win the championship, not necessarily identify this season's version of TCU that can make the playoff, but not win it.
I'd expect some popular underdog picks to include Notre Dame (+3300) and/or Florida State (+2500), but let's consider some less trendy options.
LSU Tigers (+1800)
I gave Tennessee (+4000) some consideration as an SEC option, but the schedule doesn't do them much favor, having to face both Georgia and Alabama before a potential SEC Championship game, so let's pivot to the Tigers. LSU does open with Florida State, but a loss there wouldn't keep them out of an extra game in Atlanta. The rest of the schedule looks somewhat manageable. Early road tests at post-Mike Leach Mississippi State, Missouri and Ole Miss could absolutely derail things, but based on championship odds, they'll be favored in each. After that, LSU plays only one road game, a pivotal showdown November 4 at Alabama. Perhaps beat FSU, fall to the Tide in a close game, finish 11-1 and maybe not even need the SEC Title Game to reach the CFP? They'll have stable QB play in Jayden Daniels and/or Garrett Nussmeier, and emerging WR Malik Nabers gives further continuity to the offense, and while questions remain in the secondary, LSU should be pretty nasty up front with DT Maason Smith returning from an ACL tear to pair with Mekhi Wingo, and disruptive LB Harold Perkins.
Clemson Tigers (+2000)
Schedule and quarterback play are paramount in identifying championship opportunity, and Clemson appears to have both in their favor. They'll host Florida State early and Notre Dame late, while only a road trip to Raleigh looks like the only potential slip-up outside of their state. I expect we'll see major growth from QB Cade Klubnik and WR Antonio Williams, and Will Shipley gives them a stable ground attack to fall back on. Plenty of growth will also be needed from Clemson's corners, and it's a year they need to rebuild up front, so past recruiting will be tested. The ACC has done away with divisions, so a rematch with Florida State or the Wolfpack in Charlotte is certainly possible, one where they can either avenge any prior slip up, or further pad their resume. Maybe they fall into the TCU category a bit, though not a surprise entry into the CFP, but is there enough firepower to upset the big three?
Wisconsin Badgers (+10000)
If we're looking for a long shot, I'll back the Badgers as a surprise. New HC Luke Fickell has CFP experience at Cincinnati and is bringing in an air-raid offense with OC Phil Longo coming in from North Carolina. QB Tanner Mordecai has transferred over from SMU, where he had 33 touchdown passes in a similar open offense. They won't have to play Michigan or Penn State in the regular season and will host Ohio State in late October, where they likely come in 7-0. I don't trust any team in the Pac-12, with USC, Oregon and Utah all likely vying for one spot only, and having to go through each other. The Big 12 feels like a toss-up across multiple teams too, so give me the new system to immediately take the Big 10 by storm with these long odds.
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Jake Blanchard's Breakdown
With Spring Practices starting up around the nation we are getting our first taste of National Title odds from most major books. At the top we see our usual suspects Georgia at +240, Alabama at +500 and Ohio State at +750 (via DraftKings Sportsbook). While this makes a lot of sense considering these three teams have made up 42% of the College Football Playoff field since its inception, the betting value garnered by these teams is not very high especially when we consider they will all be searching for a new starting quarterback.
There are other big names out there that may be popular picks. USC at +1400 with returning Heisman winner Caleb Williams. Notre Dame at +3300 with the addition of Sam Hartman to an already-loaded roster. However, there are a couple of other teams I will be keying on this season.
Florida State Seminoles (+2000)
Florida State comes into 2023 returning the majority of their team that finished at 10-3 last season. Two of the key returning starters are quarterback Jordan Travis, who sits with the second-highest Heisman odds behind incumbent Caleb Williams, and star running back Trey Benson. Benson went on a tear to end the regular season, racking up 593 yards rushing in the Seminoles' final five games. At +2000 I really like the value of the Seminoles this year as they return key contributors from a good season last year. In addition the Seminoles have a much easier schedule this season as they will not have to face off with North Carolina State and a matchup against Wake Forest has gotten significantly easier due to the transfer of Sam Hartman. Their key games will likely be week one against LSU, week four at Clemson and the final game of the season against Florida who will also likely be worse than they were last year. If Florida State can manage to win two out of three of those games which I believe is very likely, they can almost punch their ticket to the playoff.
LSU Tigers (+1600)
At first, I was reluctant to put LSU on this list as they play in the hardest division in all of college football but after careful consideration, I couldn't leave the Tigers off. After reaching the SEC Championship game in Brian Kelly's first year as head coach, the Tigers come back in 2023 with higher hopes. Returning for the Tigers is quarterback Jayden Daniels, who led the Tigers in both passing and rushing in 2022 as he posted 2,913 yards passing for 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions with a 144.5 passer rating; Daniels added 885 yards on the ground with 11 additional touchdowns. Returning along with Daniels is LSU's leading receiver from 2022 Malik Nabers. The Tigers will also get back former five-star recruit Maason Smith who missed most of the 2022 season with an ACL injury. Smith will join Harold Perkins and Mekhi Wingo in what could be a dominant front seven for the Tigers in 2023.