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B/R College Football 2022 Betting Locks with Adam Kramer: National Championship

Adam KramerAugust 31, 2022

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The college football season has technically already started. Week 0 delivered, and we are all better for it.

But the main course of the college football season begins this week, and the quest for the national championship begins, well, now.

Over the past month, Locks of the Week has taken on many forms. We’ve picked a Heisman winner, sorted through the biggest games of the year and tackled win totals. We dove into Week 0, and we’ll have picks for Week 1 later this week, too.

Until then, we’re prepping for the Week 1 rush by focusing on national championship betting. We have a handful of teams that we’re targeting, ranging in value.

Here they are in all of their glory.

All odds courtesy of DraftKings and accurate as of Monday.

Ohio State to Win the National Championship (+300)

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The Buckeyes aren’t the favorite to win the national title. That honor belongs to Alabama (+175), which should come as little surprise.

Still, Ohio State is right on Alabama’s heels. Given the enormous talent on the Buckeyes’ sideline, this makes sense.

To be clear, the Buckeyes are my pick to win the national championship. This opinion started to take shape shortly after last season ended, and I haven’t wavered since.

The Buckeyes are loaded on offense. Although they lost wideouts Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave to the NFL, the wide receivers still on the roster are tremendous. Heck, Jaxon Smith-Njigba might end up being the best one yet.

Ohio State also has running back TreVeyon Henderson, who was superb last year. While he might not have the same buzz as some of the Buckeyes' other offensive pieces, headlined by quarterback C.J. Stroud, he’s going to be a wrecking ball all season.

And then there is Stroud, who is poised to improve after a brilliant 2021 campaign. While Stroud looked shaky at times early last season, I don’t expect to say that again. (I also picked him to win the Heisman, for whatever that’s worth.)

However, the part that excites me most about this team is its defensive potential. Former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles was a huge addition to the coaching staff, and Ohio State, which finished 38th in scoring defense last season, should be better this year.

While the Buckeyes defense didn’t play particularly well last fall, that side of the ball is loaded with talent. If Knowles can begin to tap into it, Ohio State could find a potent, balanced attack that could guide it through the season.

On that topic, the schedule is just fine. The Buckeyes open with Notre Dame—a game I expect them to win somewhat comfortably. Michigan is on the back end, as always. Wisconsin (on Sept. 24) is a tough opponent as well, and Ohio State also travels to Penn State and Michigan State, which won’t be easy.

Still, this team is too talented to lose more than one game. While Alabama will always be a worthy adversary, Ohio State feels like a team with so much untapped potential.

Although there isn’t tremendous value at 3/1, I’m happy to take the odds being gifted to me.

Utah (+5000) to Win the National Championship

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The other participant in last season’s Rose Bowl is the next betting slip we’re hanging onto. And at 50/1, Utah is certainly worth an investment.

Yes, USC is plenty interesting in the Pac-12. Oregon could also be a factor depending on how the offense takes shape. However, Utah is poised to be the most balanced team in that division. The offensive duo of quarterback Cameron Rising and running back Tavion Thomas is electric.

On defense, I don’t expect we see a performance like the one Utah delivered in the Rose Bowl all season. (That was rough.) Even without Devin Lloyd, this defense has good players at every level. It will be a factor, especially in the team’s most important games of the year.

Those games include a fascinating Week 1 game at Florida that Utah is a slight favorite in. While that game won’t impact conference play, it is critical for College Football Playoff and national championship betting purposes.

The October 15 home game against USC feels like Utah's biggest one on the calendar right now. Home games have proven to be a massive advantage for Utah, and this should be one of the best collegiate environments of the year.

Still, the schedule is not without its intrigue. The Utes play at UCLA and Oregon, which will be challenging.

Even with those games accounted for, Utah has a decent shot at making the playoff. The issue is how this team would match up against Alabama or Ohio State—something we saw unfold with Cincinnati last year.

Still, at 50/1, it’s a shot worth taking.

Oklahoma State (+9000)

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The Pokes missed the College Football Playoff by a few feet last season. This is not an exaggeration. Oklahoma State came up a few feet short on fourth-and-goal against Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game. That loss ultimately took Mike Gundy’s team out of consideration for the four-team bracket.

So, what do we do? Well, we bet on Oklahoma State again.

Now, let’s talk through a few concerns. The Cowboys have a new defensive coordinator in Derek Mason, which is a worry. Oklahoma State also lost some production on defense, which was tremendous throughout last season.

The offense lost some pieces as well, although quarterback Spencer Sanders is back. The last two games showed us the full Sanders experience. He threw four interceptions against Baylor in the Big 12 title game, but he looked like a video game cheat code against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.

If we get more of the video game version of Sanders this year, Oklahoma State should be in business. Yes, the defense might regress some. But many of the key pass-rushers are back, which was the source of much of the team’s success last year.

The schedule certainly has some teeth. OK State plays at both Baylor and Oklahoma. It also hosts Texas and plays Arizona State out of conference. (The Sun Devils should be an easy win. If they aren't, OK State will have problems.)

Still, every game on the schedule feels like a possible win. And at 90/1, you really can’t beat the value. With a great coach, a talented quarterback, gifted defensive players and a relatively manageable schedule, I can’t find better value than this.

Now, what happens if Oklahoma State gets over the Big 12 Championship Game hump and eventually plays ‘Bama?

We will cross that bridge when we get there.

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