The future (betting) is here.
We don't have to wait until the middle of summer to begin conquering next year's college football season. The work begins now, as the offseason becomes our new norm.
While the rosters will evolve, much movement has already taken place. Recruiting classes are almost fully formed. Coaches have changed jobs. The transfer portal has already provided a handful of key adjustments to rosters, with some movement still to come.
We have enough information to make some early leans on the 2023 season. That is precisely what we've set out to do.
National championship odds for the 2023-24 season have been posted, and we're not wasting any time evaluating some teams we already like.
The obvious disclaimer needs to be stated: Things will change, our opinions will shift and a full offseason of developments and assessments will likely alter the odds.
For now, however, we're providing a favorite, a team slightly down the odds board and a long shot we like. Let's not waste any time, even though we have plenty of it.
The future (betting) is here.
All betting odds current as of Wednesday (January 18).
The Favorite Worth a Deep Study: Michigan (+1000)
To be clear, Georgia is a deserving favorite at +260 to win the national championship. The Bulldogs will lose some superb football players, including QB Stetson Bennett. They will also return a plethora of key contributors.
But Michigan will be a fascinating study this offseason. For starters, Jim Harbaugh is back for at least one more season. Although the NFL possibilities were enticing—and they will likely tempt him in years to come—he'll coach his alma mater next fall.
Returning with him will be a roster full of promise, albeit, in a situation that has been full of distractions of late, including a pending NCAA investigation. Assistant coach Matt Weiss has also been placed on leave with a report ongoing into "computer access crimes."
Quarterback J.J. McCarthy is back, as are star running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. They will be joined by offensive linemen Trevor Keegan and Zak Zinter, who both announced that they were returning. Wideout Cornelius Johnson, who had a massive game against Ohio State, is also back.
The defense will also return a ton of production, which is good news given how well this group played the entire year. (The TCU game was certainly an exception.)
In terms of scheduling, the Wolverines are once again set up for a deep run. The out-of-conference slate is underwhelming (East Carolina, UNLV and Bowling Green), and Michigan will play Ohio State at home to close out the year.
A road trip late in the year to Penn State will certainly be a test. Games at Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan State and Maryland could provide a challenge. Still, most of the games seem extremely winnable on paper.
Perhaps the bigger concern in betting the Wolverines to win the national title surrounds the issues that have plagued them in the playoff the last two years. There's no question that they need to overcome this stigma, and this feels like the roster to do just that.
The Reemergence: LSU (+1800)
I did not expect much from Brian Kelly's first LSU team. I also don't believe I was the only one believing this. Needless to say, the Tigers were a pleasant surprise.
In fact, that's putting it mildly. Considering that the Bayou Bengals ultimately played in the SEC Championship Game, it was a remarkable turn. Kelly inherited a mess of a roster, used the transfer portal, developed players quickly and delivered immediate success.
Many of the players that made this season possible are back, including quarterback Jayden Daniels. The former Arizona State QB seemed to find himself late in the year, and he should be even better come 2023.
He has weapons to throw to, including superstar-in-the-making Malik Nabers. He'll also be protected by an offensive line that projects to be one of the best in college football.
Defensively, it starts with linebacker Harold Perkins. By the time next season is done, he could wind up being the best defensive player in the sport. (He might already be there.) His flashes from this past season were tremendous, and he'll be a wrecking ball come fall.
The schedule certainly has its teeth, starting with a fascinating matchup against Florida State in Week 1. LSU also plays at Alabama, at Ole Miss and at Mississippi State. At home, the Tigers will take on Arkansas, Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M.
A title run certainly won't be easy, but a remade roster is suddenly blossoming with talent. If enough key pieces emerge, Kelly's team could emerge from the SEC.
A Dangerous Dog: Washington (+4000)
By the end of the season, Washington looked like a truly dangerous football team to play.
Kalen DeBoer transformed the Huskies from a 4-8 team to an 11-win team in one year, which is sensational. He did so with a formula that revolved around offense.
More specifically, he developed QB Michael Penix Jr. into one of sport's most productive players.
Penix will return in 2023, and that gives Washington a chance in every game. Many of his favorite targets will also return, which is a huge plus for a group still acclimating to a new offense. After averaging 39.7 points per game last year, which was seventh nationally, Washington could actually score even more.
The offensive line will need some reworking, and the defense will lose a few key contributors. But the foundation that made this team special this past fall is still very much intact.
From a scheduling standpoint, Washington will certainly be challenged on the road. The Huskies travel to USC and Oregon State. They also will play at Michigan State in the middle of September. Utah and Oregon will play the Huskies in Seattle.
It's not an easy path given the sudden abundance of interesting teams in the Pac-12, although it's one that can be navigated. And at 40-1, with one of the nation's most feared offenses, the value is strong.
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