2015 College Football Playoff Predictions
Will year two of the college football playoff system go as smooth as year one?
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Outside of a few small pockets like Fort Worth (TCU) and Waco (Baylor) inside the state of Texas, not too many people can have a gripe about how year one of the new college football playoff system performed last season. The selection committee's decision to have Ohio State leapfrog both TCU and Baylor to get into the four-team playoff was validated when the Buckeyes ran the table beating both Alabama and Oregon to win the inaugural championship back in January.
But a new year means another chance for college football fans and degenerates everywhere to be the one next January that can proudly exclaim the phrase … "I picked them to win it all back in August!"
With the start of the regular season just a month away, let's take an early look at the 2015 college football futures odds and breakdown each conferences in college football. All of the odds listed are available at BetOnline Sportsbook. (Home of the best live-in-game betting on the web!)
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
Odds to win ACC: Pittsburgh +2500
With Jameis Winston now calling signals for the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many expect FLORIDA STATE to struggle a little in 2015. But Winston isn't the only player the Seminoles lose on offense, putting even more pressure on the seven returning starters on defense to carry the load.
The return of sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson has many picking CLEMSON to be the winner in the ACC this season. The Tigers have perhaps the best defensive secondary in all of college football led by corner Mackensie Alexander, but their dominate front seven lost a few players to the NFL and it could hurt their chances at closing out on the road this season (at Louisville, at NC State and at South Carolina).
My pick for the ACC this season, PITTSBURGH, is probably the best all-around and most balanced on both sides of the ball. The Panthers are loaded on offense with QB Chad Voytik, RB James Connor and WR Tyler Boyd all back behind an experienced offensive line, and the influence of new head coach Pat Narduzzi (former DC at Michigan State) on the defensive side of the ball should produce immediate returns. If they can get past early road games at Iowa and at Virginia Tech, the Panthers could pull off the surprise.
Big Ten Conference
Odds to win Big Ten: Michigan State +800
With the team still loaded with talent, it's hard to go against OHIO STATE as potential back-to-back Big Ten champs in 2015. But with a price of -400 on the board to take the Buckeyes, let's look at other options that could bring more return on investment.
MICHIGAN STATE is another team with a lot of returning players, with seven starters on both sides of the ball back for a second crack at the Buckeyes. The Spartans defense lost its coordinator in Pat Narduzzi (to Pitt), but its still probably the only defense in the Big Ten capable of stopping the Buckeyes offense at least a few times.
If you're a risk taker on these future bets, may I suggest a flyer on PENN STATE this season. QB Christian Hackenberg is far and away the best quarterback in the league, including the three at Ohio State, and he alone is reason enough to back the Lions this year. Penn State's defense is strong up front and in the secondary … the only reason I walked away from making them my pick is road games at Ohio State and at Michigan State this season.
Big 12 Conference
Odds to win Big 12: TCU +150
With all but one starter back on offense including a potential Heisman hopeful in QB Trevone Boykin, there's plenty of reasons the expect TCU to be right back at the front of the pack in the Big 12 this season. The defense returns some beef of front led by DT Davion Pierson, but will be new at linebacker when they take the field in 2015. Their road schedule (at Iowa State, at Kansas State, at Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma) is harder than it looks, but if the Frogs can make it to the finale unscathed it sets up a showdown with co-Big 12 favorite BAYLOR on Thanksgiving.
As mentioned, BAYLOR is right there too. With one huge exception, the Bears will be replacing their quarterback on offense. I know, there wasn't much drop off from RG3 to Bryce Petty in recent years, but the change this season will be different (i.e. the Bears will only score 40 points per game instead of 60).
In fact, the same could be said for ALL of the teams in the Big 12 … no quarterback. OKLAHOMA, OKLAHOMA STATE, KANSAS STATE and WEST VIRGINIA will all be facing life with a new quarterback in 2015. The Sooners (at +550) might be the best value in the conference race this season, but it seems like I say that about the Sooners every season in this article and every year Bob Stoops and crew find a new way to disappoint me.
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Odds to win PAC-12: UCLA +450
With Heisman-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota off to the NFL, and considering he accounted for 64 percent of the OREGON DUCKS offense last year, the PAC 12 race this year should be wide open. With a new quarterback on the road at Michigan State in early September, the Ducks may have one loss before the other contenders are even done playing their FCS cupcake opponents.
STANFORD has quarterback Kevin Hogan back to lead the Cardinal on offense, which has led to many PAC 12 backers jumping off the Ducks bandwagon to join the Stanford one in 2015. But with only four starters back on their normally signature defense, the Cardinal might struggle a little on their early test at USC (Sept. 19) before facing the gauntlet of Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame all at home at the end of the year.
I don't like the fact that UCLA has perhaps the toughest road schedule in the conference this season (at Arizona, at Stanford, at Utah), so there are plenty of chances for a stumble or two. However, with 10 starters on offense and eight on defense back for the Bruins just may have enough experience back to get past the fact that they will be breaking in a new quarterback.
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
Odds to win SEC: Tennessee +900
The race in the SEC race is a lot like the one in the Big 12 this season … a lot of good teams but almost all of them have issues or questions at quarterback. With the exception of Dak Prescott at MISSISSIPPI STATE, all of the power teams in the conference including ALABAMA, AUBURN, GEORGIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, FLORIDA and TEXAS A&M will all be turning to new signal callers in 2015.
LSU has two quarterbacks in Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings, but neither of them seem to want to take the job. Games away from the Bayou this year (at Bama, at S. Carolina, at Miss. St.) could be to much for the Tigers to overcome considering their struggles at quarterback.
Which is why my pick for the SEC this year goes toward the upstart Volunteers from TENNESSEE. When the Vols finally went with Joshua Dobbs at QB last year their season took off. With 18 starters back Tennessee has the most pieces, but the tough road schedule (at Florida, at Bama, at Missouri) will be the hardest part of the 2015 campaign for the Vols to overcome.
College Football Championship
While I never like to pick favorites in their respective conference races due to poor odds and a lack of value, its not always the same in the race for the crystal ball.
Short Favorite Pick: Ohio State Buckeyes - +300
As much as it pains me to say, the Buckeyes are loaded. If they DON'T get back to the title game and win it again this year … can we take away all of the praise and accolades people have bestowed on Urban Meyer over the years?
Middle of the Road "Could Happen" TCU Horned Frogs - +950
The Horned Frogs have a perfect opportunity this year, and with what I'd consider wide-open races in the SEC and PAC 12 this year (i.e. possible two-loss team wins it), TCU shouldn't get leap-frogged by the selection committee this year.
Longshot Prediction: Michigan State - +3300
If Ohio State falls, it will be the Spartans who will reap the benefits. The have the skill, the coaching, the schedule … at 33-to-1 I'll take Sparty as insurance that the Big 10 will dethrone the mighty SEC again in 2015. Place your 2015/2016 college football futures bets for FREE by depositing $100 to $600 and receive a generous 50% bonus at one of the web's oldest and most trusted sportsbooks: Bookmaker!
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