Eric Uribe | Wed 28/06/2017 - 12:53 EDT

NCAA football betting preview

NCAA Football 2017-18 predictions

When does the college football season start?

It seems like yesterday that the Deshaun Watson-led Tigers thwarted back-to-back championships for Nick Saban and the Tide with a last-gasp touchdown with one second remaining. It was Saban's first-ever title game loss and you have to think it's been eating at him since January. Thankfully for him — and all of us — the college football season returns on September 2 (for most big-name programs).

As crazy as it sounds, there will be national championship implications on that opening day as a few title contenders square off:

  • Alabama vs. Florida State (in Atlanta)
  • Florida vs. Michigan (in Arlington)
  • Texas A&M at UCLA

That's a blockbuster weekend. With the date quickly on the horizon, it's never too early to bank on which programs will clash on New Year's Day in the four-team College Football Playoff. Below are our best bets and analysis, odds per BetOnline.

Which teams are in the early run for the playoffs?

Let's get this out of the way now: it's going to be nearly impossible for Clemson to repeat. The reigning champions graduated numerous starters on both sides of the ball, including six NFL Draft picks. Of course, no departure stings as big as Watson, who proved to be Alabama's Kryptonite in two championship games. Head coach Dabo Swinney will rebuild — just not this year.

Alabama To Win National Championship (+300)

  • vs. Florida State — Sept. 2
  • vs. Fresno State — Sept. 9
  • vs. Colorado State — Sept. 16
  • at Vanderbilt — Sept. 23

When you've played in five of the last eight national title games, you earn the right be the undisputed favorites — and that's exactly where the Tide stand. It helps when Alabama returns a loaded roster, including a possible Heisman Trophy frontrunner in sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Seemingly the only red flag on this team is offensive coordinator. Gone is Lane Kiffin, who guided the attack the past three years. The job was given to Steve Sarkisian, before he bolted to the NFL. Now the gig falls on the unproven Brian Daboll. 

Ohio State To Win National Championship (+750)

  • at Indiana — Aug. 31
  • vs. Oklahoma — Sept. 9
  • vs. Army — Sept. 16
  • vs. UNLV — Sept. 23

Just like the coaching prowess of Saban earns Alabama an automatic seat at the table, so does Urban Meyer for Ohio State. Meyer has led the Buckeyes to a CFP appearance two of the last three years, and there's plenty of upside in 2017. 

Ohio State returns 15 starters from a year ago. The team is mostly young, however, it'll be lead by senior signal caller J.T. Barrett. There's probably not a player in college football that's played in as many big-time situations as Barrett and that helps a Buckeye team that faces Oklahoma and bitter rival Michigan on the road. 

USC To Win National Championship (+750)

  • vs. Western Michigan — Sept. 2
  • vs. Stanford — Sept. 9
  • vs. Texas — Sept. 16
  • at California — Sept. 23

We've talked about Hurts and Barrett already, but there's not a more explosive quarterback than Sam Darnold. The sophomore almost single-handedly turned the Trojans' fortunes last season. Darnold was inserted as starting quarterback in USC's fourth game, a close loss on the road, before winning eight in a row, including the Rose Bowl.

Darnold torched opponents to the tune of 3,086 yards, 31 touchdowns (to just nine interceptions), and a 67.2 completion percentage last season. With a year under his belt, and an offseason as the unquestioned leader, Darnold is the Trojans' best hope at returning to their past glory.  

Florida State To Win National Championship (+800)

  • vs. Alabama — Sept. 2
  • vs. ULM — Sept. 9
  • vs. Miami (FL) — Sept. 16
  • vs. NC State — Sept. 23

The argument against the Seminoles here is that season-opening tilt with Bama. A win and Florida State is in the driver's seat for a ticket to the playoffs. However, a loss and the Noles have little to no margin for error the rest of the season in a highly-contested ACC. 

Best college football betting sites

In the table below, we've ranked the top-three sportsbooks to handle your betting needs this coming college football season. We've carefully reviewed each site with the customer in mind. The three sportsbooks stood out in their ease of use, sign-up bonuses, reliability, and overall bang-for-your-buck. 

Category : Sports Betting News

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