College Football Playoff: While there is a lot of uncertainty in college football, one thing we do know is that the 2023 season is the last one that will proceed with the traditional Power 5 conference structure, and with a four-team College Football Playoff at the end of the season. In 2024, the field is supposed to grow to 12, but the implosion of the Pac-12, resulting in just four teams remaining in that storied league, could alter the structure of the sport enough to merit another look at the playoff structure. This year, Georgia looks to make it three national championships in a row, Alabama looks to get back into the national semifinals, and Michigan looks to win a third straight Big Ten championship – and get to the national championship game. Which teams will take these four slots? Which teams would like to – but will fail? Here are some of our thoughts as you consider your college football betting for the year.
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Penn State Nittany Lions will not make the College Football Playoff
The Nittany Lions are in a tough situation, living in the same division of the Big Ten as Michigan and Ohio State. Sean Clifford is out at quarterback, with transfer Drew Allar coming in to lead the offense. Defensive lineman Chop Robinson and linebacker Abdul Carter highlight an ironclad defense, and tailbacks Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen will make the offense elite on the ground. However, James Franklin has never shown that he can guide a team through both of these top opponents in the same season, which is why the Nittany Lions have not won the Big Ten since 2016.
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Georgia Bulldogs will make the College Football Playoff
Only two potentially scary games loom on the Bulldogs’ schedule: the neutral-site game with Florida and the trip to Tennessee on November 18. The Bulldogs’ SEC West opponents are Auburn (on the road) and Ole Miss (at home). Unless Tennessee can pull off the upset (and they did stop Alabama last year), the Bulldogs should cruise to the SEC Championship; if they are unbeaten going into that game, they should make the playoff even if they fall to Alabama or LSU in that game.
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Texas will not. Neither will Oklahoma or TCU
Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma Sooners and TUC Horned Frogs will not make the College Football Playoff
Texas finishes its time in the Big 12 this season, and even after adding BYU and some teams from the American Athletic Conference, the competition in this conference has not improved. TCU made it through their Big 12 schedule last year unbeaten before losing to Kansas State (with a backup quarterback) in the conference championship, and we saw what Georgia did to them in the national championship game. It’s hard to imagine a league of mediocre teams producing another unbeaten or one-loss champion, given the massive run of luck that TCU rode last year.
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SEC West Conference
SEC West winner will not make the College Football Playoff
We’re entering another season where the SEC West has several really solid teams: Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss. Arkansas and Texas A&M are teams that can reach out and grab one or more of these top-tier teams and take a win. However, Alabama has not returned to elite status, and while LSU won this division last year, they took too many losses to get through the CFP’s criteria. You could argue that Alabama or LSU would have given Georgia a much better game than TCU did, but the CFP still considers the Big 12 a power conference and rewarded TCU accordingly.
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USC Trojans will not make the College Football Playoff
The Trojans went 11-3 (8-1 Pac-12) last year, but two of their losses came against Utah – during the regular season and in the Pac-12 title game. Lincoln Riley is still elite when it comes to putting together an offensive game plan, but he has shown no signs of paying attention to defense. You can win a lot of games doing what Riley does, but you will eventually run into a team that can outscore you if you don’t play defense. The Utes found out how to do that, and there are enough teams who will figure that out this year to keep USC on the wrong side of the CFP’s criteria.
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College Football Betting Odds for National Championship | Top 20
Updated at August 17thTeam
Alabama Crimson Tide
Ohio State Buckeyes
Florida State Seminoles
Penn State Nittany Lions
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Texas A&M Aggies
Oregon State Beavers
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