With college football’s 2012 season in the books, it’s never too early to start thinking about 2013. Alabama crushed Notre Dame in Miami to earn its third national title in four seasons and is a heavy favorite to win next season in Pasadena. In the early odds released by Bovada Sportsbook, the Crimson Tide are a 5/1 favorite to repeat next year, while Oregon and Ohio State are the top two challengers. The start of the 2013 college football season isn’t until August but here’s an early look at some of the top bets from Bovada’s early odds.
Alabama (5/1) – It may seem crazy to consider the Crimson Tide a best bet at 5/1 odds, but there’s not exactly a wealth of challengers to stop Alabama’s championship run next season. Ohio State and Oregon are the biggest threats to Nick Saban’s team, but the Crimson Tide return one of the nation’s top quarterbacks (AJ McCarron) and budding stars in running back T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Amari Cooper. The defense has a few holes to fill but will once again rank among the best in the nation. The schedule is also very manageable, with a road trip to Texas A&M in Week 2 the toughest game on the slate. Even if Alabama loses in College Station, there's plenty of time to get back into the top two spots by the end of the year.
Georgia (28/1) – The Bulldogs were just a couple of yards away from playing for the national championship in 2012. And despite the losses on defense, Georgia will be in the mix to win the BCS title in 2013. Quarterback Aaron Murray turned down the NFL for another year in Athens and will team with running back Todd Gurley to form one of the top backfields in college football. The Bulldogs need a lot of help on defense, but the schedule is favorable, headlined by home matchups against South Carolina and LSU.
Oklahoma State (40/1) – This pick is a little off the board, but the Cowboys are Athlon’s early favorite to win the Big 12 in 2013. With Oklahoma reloading and Texas not ready to climb back into the national title conversation, the Big 12 isn’t as strong as it has been in recent years. However, if Oklahoma State can run the table and finish unbeaten, it would have a chance to play for the national title. The Cowboys have a favorable schedule, playing TCU and Oklahoma in Stillwater.
Stanford (30/1) – This is the biggest surprise on the board. The Cardinal closed the year with an eight-game winning streak, including a 17-14 overtime road victory over Oregon. Running back Stepfan Taylor and tight end Zach Ertz must be replaced, but the passing attack should be better with the emergence of Kevin Hogan at quarterback. The defense should be the best in the Pac-12, while the schedule features home games against Oregon, Notre Dame, Arizona State and UCLA. Although Stanford has a few personnel losses, this team could play for the national title in 2013.
Others to like:
Boise State (75/1)
Florida State (14/1) – One of the most interesting aspects of the 2013-14 odds is Bovada considers the Seminoles an early favorite in the ACC. While that’s not far fetched, Florida State shouldn’t be ahead of Clemson in early conference predictions. The Seminoles suffered some key losses on both sides of the ball, including quarterback EJ Manuel, defensive end Bjoern Werner and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Florida State should push for 10 wins next year but contending for the national championship is unlikely.
LSU (12/1) – Even though LSU suffered a plethora of personnel losses to the NFL Draft, the Tigers aren’t going to drop too far in preseason rankings. However, it would be a big surprise if LSU gets to the national title. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger made strides late in the year, and Jeremy Hill is headed for a 1,000-yard season in 2013. While the Tigers may show improvement on offense, the defense will take a step back. The line has to replace ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, while tackles Bennie Logan and Josh Downs also depart. Linebacker Kevin Minter will be missed, and the secondary has to replace Eric Reid and Tharold Simon. Expect LSU to be in the mix for a finish inside of the top 10, but considering the personnel losses, winning a national title seems unrealistic.
Miami (25/1) – There’s no doubt the Hurricanes are on the right track under coach Al Golden. However, Miami is still under NCAA investigation and the hammer could drop at any point. With the uncertainty surrounding the program and a potential bowl ban on the table for sanctions, motivation could be an issue for this team in 2013. The Hurricanes could be the favorite to win the ACC Coastal Division but are a longshot to win the national title.
USC (33/1) – After a disappointing 2012 season, it’s fair to wonder what direction USC is headed going into 2013. The Trojans began the year as one of the favorites to win the national title but finished with a disappointing 7-6 record. USC now has to replace quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods, while the defense will be under the direction of a new coordinator. There’s no question Lane Kiffin has recruited plenty of talent to Los Angeles. However, it’s time for the talent to turn into victories. Although winning the Pac-12 South title is a reasonable goal, the Trojans will be a longshot to reach the national title game.
Stay Away From:
Mississippi State (50/1)
West Virginia (150/1)
Bovada's Early 2013-2014 National Championship Odds
Early 2013-2014 Odds