College football is back. The season kicks off in less than 2 weeks. But before it even gets going, there are plenty of opportunities to get bets in. Will it be Alabama, Ohio State or Georgia to yet again take the CFP title, or will another team sneak in? Our analysts are here to offer their advice going into the season.
Note: Lines courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. This page was originally posted on July 20th and updated to reflect updated odds and picks
Alabama (+180), Ohio State (+300) and Georgia (+425) are the only teams with single-digit odds to win the title. Which of the three do you like the most?
Bill Connelly: Since Bama and Georgia would have to play each other in the SEC Championship -- and since there are plenty of scenarios in which they wouldn't both get in as they did last year -- give me Ohio State.
Joe Fortenbaugh: Ohio State. I love their road schedule (Michigan State, Northwestern, Maryland, Penn State). But more importantly, I love the hiring of Jim Knowles as defensive coordinator. What he did at Oklahoma State last year was remarkable.
Erin Dolan: Process of elimination out of the three due to the fact that Alabama and Georgia would have to face each other in the SEC Championship game. The easy pick is Ohio State. Taking a look at OSU's markets, C.J. Stroud is the Heisman favorite at +200, and the Buckeyes are -250 to win the Big Ten. Oddsmakers are expecting a good season for the Buckeyes, and I expect that, too.
Doug Kezirian: If I had to pick one of the three, I would take Georgia at +425. I think they have just as good of a shot at running the table in the regular season table, even with Oregon in the opener. As we saw last year, the CFP committee has no issue putting a non-conference champ in the playoff. Georgia can get there even if they lose in the SEC title game.
Speaking of which, Caesars has a prop of those three (-380) vs. the field, which is +290. Which one would you bet right now?
Connelly: Wow. Those odds are equivalent to the three favorites having about a 79% title chance ... and I'm still kind of leaning toward taking them. There are obviously plenty of talented teams that could make big runs, and none of these three teams are without their question marks this season. But I don't feel comfortable putting any of FBS' other 128 teams at their level just yet.
Dolan: I like those three, but there is absolutely no value at -380. I would never advise betting anything at the price of -380. That's the lesson here. Just because a market seems like "a lock," don't bet it if there is not value. No play for me.
Chris Fallica: They are the three most talented teams in the country. Odds are all three -- or at least two will be in the CFP. It will take a special season from a team, and I couldn't even guess who it would be, to beat both in the CFP to beat us here. I'm comfortable laying the price.
Kezirian: For me, I prefer a similar prop of Georgia or Alabama winning the title at -115. One of them is likely to reach the CFP and there's a shot that both do, like we saw last year. Those two programs just recruit at a different level. This prop bet actually has value
Which team that is 25-1 or longer to win the title is worth taking a flier on before the season starts?
David Hale: Long shots simply don't win national titles. Since 2004, only one eventual champion (2010 Auburn) opened the season ranked worse than 11th. Ten of those 18 teams ranked in the top three in the preseason poll. Blue bloods win. That's the story. Of course, there are a few blue bloods with longer odds this year, including Texas (40-1), Notre Dame (50-1) and Michigan (50-1). But the one I'd be happiest to throw a few bucks on is Oklahoma (50-1). The Sooners have ample playoff history, and while this year includes its share of big changes, that change doesn't have to be bad. Perhaps there's a scenario where the Sooners' defense blossoms under Brent Venables, Dillon Gabriel has a big year, and Oklahoma cruises through a vulnerable Big 12 to find itself with a genuine path to winning it all. Is it likely? Of course not. But stranger things have happened.
Connelly: Ditto. Sooners.