Steele: Dark horse bets to win the College Football Playoff

With a strong defense and a healthy Tyler Huntley back at quarterback, Utah could make a title run. Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports

Like most folks, I am forecasting a return to the national title game for Clemson and Alabama, but the odds are too low on both to make a real investment into them. Caesars Sportsbook just released their odds to win the national title, so I will look at teams with favorable odds and a chance -- if everything falls into place -- to be this year's surprise championship game winner.

Utah Utes (75-1)

The list of potential surprises in my magazine is made up of teams that are not in the top 10 at the start of the season that I think can make the College Football Playoff. My No. 1 surprise team last year in the magazine was the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame finished the season 12-0 and made the playoff. This year's top surprise team is the Utah Utes. Utah has my top-rated defensive line, which goes 11 deep and has six or seven NFL-caliber linemen. All of the other units are solid, including special teams. Utah lost quarterback Tyler Huntley and star running back Zack Moss to injury with five games left in the season last year and still got to the Pac-12 title game and nearly knocked off Washington. Huntley and Moss are both back this season, and Oregon and Stanford drop off the schedule. The Utes are my pick to win the Pac-12, and if they do run the table and make the playoff, they have the defense to win the title.