College Football 2022: Usual Suspects Top the Rankings, Odds Boards

Posted on: September 26, 2022, 09:43h. 

Last updated on: September 27, 2022, 04:49h.

College football’s regular season has hit the one-third mark, and as we get ready to flip the calendar to October. As the classic song “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads says, “same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.”

Georgia football
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV, left, stiff-arms Kent State linebacker Marvin Pierre as he runs in the first half of their game Saturday in Athens, Ga. Bennett led Georgia to a national title last year and has the Bulldogs among the favorites again this season in college football. (Image: John Bazemore/AP)

By almost every poll or ranking system out there, the top three teams in the country are Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio State. Those teams have accounted for 13 combined appearances in the College Football Playoff since its debut in January 2015. They also have 10 combined appearances in the eight championship games and five of the titles.

According to ESPN’s Power Index, those three teams all have a 24.2% chance or greater of winning the rest of their games. Only two other teams, Clemson and Cincinnati, are given at least a 10% possibility of that, so it’s a sign of how much better they are compared to the rest of the pack.

Not surprisingly, oddsmakers also have them set aside on their boards. If you want to bet on the Georgia Bulldogs or Alabama Crimson Tide to win it all in January, the best odds you’ll find are +200 at Caesars Sportsbook for the SEC powers. BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel also have the Tide at +200. Caesars has the current best odds for Ohio State, with the Buckeyes available at +265.

Based on the implied probability from those odds, Caesars gives those three teams a greater than 94% chance of being the champion.

Best of the Rest

So, who might be an attractive alternative if you want to bet on a team not named Alabama, Georgia, or Ohio State? Here are three possibilities for the college football title.

Michigan Wolverines (Best odds: +3000 FanDuel)

Michigan made the playoffs last season before losing to Georgia in the semifinals. The Wolverines are fourth in ESPN’s Power Rankings behind the big three, but their biggest test will likely be the regular season finale against archrival Ohio State in Columbus. If they don’t stumble along the way to the Buckeyes, that November 26 Big Ten matchup will be a de facto playoff game.

Clemson Tigers (+1600 FanDuel, PointsBet)

You could easily put Dabo Swinney’s team next to the Big Three as far as recent history goes. The Tigers missed out last season but had made the playoffs in six straight seasons and won two championships. They could return to the playoffs this season, but the Tigers have no room for error. At the same time, a lot of questions surround quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.

Tennessee Volunteers (+8000 FanDuel)

For you Talking Heads fans out there, here comes the twister. The Vols have already beaten two ranked teams, Florida and Pittsburgh. They’re off this week. But after that, they face a five-game stretch featuring LSU, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia.

They’ll become title favorites if they somehow go through that gauntlet unscathed. They still have a shot even if they go 3-1 and win at Georgia. It won’t be easy by any stretch. But Tennessee has a chance to prove its worth on the field.

Heisman Hopefuls

The national title isn’t the only major college football trophy up for grabs. There’s also the Heisman Trophy, which goes to the game’s most outstanding player.

Bryce Young of Alabama won it last season, and the Tide quarterback is considered a contender for it again. There’s only been one repeat winner in the 87-year history of the Heisman, so Young isn’t only going up against some of the top players in the nation, he’s lining up against history. His highest odds – currently +500 at FanDuel – seem a little low when considering that.

The current favorite is Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud (+150 BetMGM). He’s led the Buckeyes to a 4-0 start, including three blowout victories. The junior has already amassed more than 1,200 passing yards and 16 touchdowns in those games.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV (+2500 FanDuel) also deserves some consideration. At his odds, there is a slew of more dynamic players ahead of him. But, if no one stands out from the crowd, Bennett could be considered for the trophy. His best-case scenario is if he follows up last year’s national title with an undefeated regular season and a Bulldogs win over Alabama in the SEC Championship.