2014 College Football Predictions
The Four-Team Playoff Era Begins
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
The 2014-15 season in college football will forever be the answer to a board game trivia question, as this year’s campaign stands to be recognized as the inaugural season of college football’s new playoff format, as four teams chosen by a committee made up of 13 members will need to win two games in 10 days to hoist the crystal football.
The four teams chosen to get into the new playoff will be seeded No. 1 through No. 4, with the top seeds playing at the site “most conducive” to them in the semi-final round. In 2014, the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl will serve as the semi-final games on January 1st, with the championship game on January 12th in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Say goodbye BCS, and hello to the College Football Playoff (yes, that is its official name).
With the start of the regular season a few months away, let’s take an early look at the BCS futures odds and breakdown the 2014 futures odds for the big six conferences in college football. All of the odds listed are available at Bovada Sportsbook or 5Dimes.
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
Odds to win Atlantic Division: Louisville 9/1
Odds to win Coastal Division: North Carolina 7/4
Odds to win ACC: Louisville 15/1
Yes, FLORIDA STATE is the defending champions and with Jameis Winston back the Seminoles are once again favored as the team to beat. But I despise picking the chalk in a futures bet, what’s the point of doing that?
So my anybody else other than Florida State pick in the “down” ACC this year is going to be a newcomer to the conference, LOUISVILLE. The Cardinals have plenty of talent back despite losing QB Teddy Bridgewater to the NFL early, and with “new” coach Bobby Petrino back at the helm I think the Cards instantly become the best team in the ACC other than the Seminoles.
A super weak ACC Coastal Division will have surging NORTH CAROLINA as a surprise winner, since the Tarheels seemed to figure things out late last season once Marquise Williams started playing QB. Whomever wins the Atlantic Division should be able to get past the Coastal champs in the title game fairly easily, so I’ll throw a unit on Louisville to win the whole ACC at 15-to-1 odds at Bovoda.lv.
Big Ten Conference
Odds to win East Division: Michigan State 13/5
Odds to win West Division: Iowa 5/1
Odds to win Big Ten: Michigan State 4/1
With MICHIGAN set to struggle again in 2014, the MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS are starting to get a whole lot of respect from people outside of East Lansing. With a bevy of talented skill players returning including QB Connor Cook and running back Jeremy Langford, the Spartans will probably the only team capable of standing in the way of OHIO STATE in a revamped East Division that welcomes Maryland and Rutgers into play on 2014.
The West Division also looks like a two-team race between WISCONSIN and NEBRASKA. If the Badgers can find a winner in the starting QB derby between Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy, they have probably the best chance to ground-and-pound teams to death with Marvin Gordon and Corey Clement. Nebraska can also grind it out on the ground with Ameer Abdullah, but an improved defense wit seven returning starters could be the reason the Cornhuskers make it into the Big Ten title game from the West.
Big 12 Conference
Odds to win Big 12: Kansas State 10/1
With a resounding 45-31 victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last year, everyone seems to think that OKLAHOMA has turned the corner and moved past it’s “can’t-win-the-big-game” choke status now. I’m skeptical, but in a league with all sorts of high-powered offense, it’s the Sooners offense that worries me the most.
Teams like BAYLOR and TEXAS TECH could be a surprise and just run the table based on offense alone. The Bears return QB Bryce Petty and a high-scoring offense, but the defense that was already suspect will be totally revamped with seven starters and 10 significant contributors to last year’s unit that allowed 23.5 ppg. The Red Raiders are further off the radar, but again, if a powerful offense can just outscore everyone to the title the Red Raiders with QB Davis Webb could be tough to beat.
Balance is the reason I went with KANSAS STATE to win the Big 12, because the Wildcats will have plenty of offense behind the Jake Waters-to-Tyler Lockett combo, and just enough defense back with veteran experience at each level (DE Ryan Mueller, LB Jonathan Truman, FS Dante Barnes) makes the Wildcats the “safest” pick in the Big 12 this season outside of Norman, Okla.
Odds to win PAC-12 North: Oregon 1/2
Odds to win PAC-12 South: UCLA 3/2
Odds to win PAC-12: UCLA 3/1
Another year in the PAC-12 North and everyone is still trying find a way to compete with OREGON and STANFORD. Both teams are poised to win 11 or 12 games again and represent the North in the title game, but the Cardinal have a uber-tough road schedule in 2014 with games at Washington, Norte Dame, Oregon and UCLA
I took UCLA to win the battle of attrition in the South, but with QB Brett Hundley back and plenty of speed and range on defense, the Bruins could pull off the biggest surprise of them all and ride this team into a spot in the four-team playoffs.
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
Odds to win SEC East: South Carolina 7/4
Odds to win SEC West: Alabama 1/2
Odds to win SEC: South Carolina 5/1
Over the year’s I’ve sort of treated the Gamecocks from SOUTH CAROLINA in the same category as Oklahoma, they never seem to win in the big games with a new way to slip out of East Division contention every year. So why is this year different you ask? The Gamecocks seem to have more experience coming back this season when compared to the GEORGIA’s, FLORIDA’s and MISSOURI’s of the division.
My pick of ALABAMA is the only chalk on the card for me, and while it’s hard for me to do it, even if the Tide loses the West title to AUBURN or LSU again, a one-loss Bama team could become the first team not in its conference championship game to get invited into the four-team playoff bracket.
College Football Championship
With a four-team playoff the winner of the title will have to have some staying power, so the schools I’m going with as my short, middle and long shot are very familiar and capable of winning two straight slobberknockers.
Short Favorite: Alabama Crimson Tide – 6/1.
The fact the Crimson Tide didn’t win it last year makes me even more excited to make them my short favorite. Wouldn’t a fitting ending be former Florida St. Seminole Jacob Coker leading Bama over the Seminoles in the title game?
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Middle of the Road: UCLA – 14/1
UCLA has a good team and an easier road in the PAC-12 to the four-team round, but if they get in the arm of Hundley could be the kind of story that leads the Bruins back to glory, kind of like Vince Young in Texas.
Longshot Prediction: South Carolina – 25/1
It’s no secret a team from the SEC is a strong play in any futures bet, especially now that it requires two wins to lift the trophy. I’ll take the Gamecocks to cash in on an SEC East title with an epic three-game run as 25-to-1 underdogs to do it for the championship. Place your 2014/2015 college football futures bets for FREE by depositing $100 to $500 and receiving a matching dollar for dollar 100% bonus at GTBets!
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