NCAAF 2024 Contenders and Sleepers
College Football 2023-2024 Contenders and Playoff Sleeper Teams
by Travis Gillmore | June 26th, 2023
Football season is slowly approaching and it's never too early to shop for futures. We take a look at the college football landscape and break down who can contend for the 2024 national title.
These teams won't be sexy at all, there isn't a lot of parody in college football year to year and like it or not the same teams are generally going to compete for a national title every year. The prices aren't going to be very enticing either on these teams but when you think about win equity and who can legit win the whole thing the list is short. Here is the list of national title winners since the first year of the playoff in 2014; 2022 Georgia, 2021 Georgia, 2020 Alabama, 2019 LSU, 2018 Clemson, 2017 Alabama, 2016 Clemson, 2015 Alabama, 2014 Ohio State. You get the idea, it's generally going to be Georgia or Bama with a sprinkle of Clemson and Ohio State. Maybe an outside team can make a historic run but it feels like Joe Burrow was really an outlier in 2019 when he carried LSU to the national title. You need an all time great QB with a lot of talent around him to knock one of those 4 teams off.
Even with losing a great deal of talent to the NFL draft the Bulldogs are still poised to dominate again. Their defense is still loaded and will be extremely tough for any team to play against.; Their offense is littered with highly rated athletes and theres a chance that they actually improve at QB with Stetson Bennett on to the NFL. Carson Beck seems to be more of a prototypical QB than Bennett was, standing 6'5" with a strong arm he should slot right into the role assuming the Bulldogs don't go in another direction. But regardless of who plays QB they will feature a strong running game, well coordinated play action pass game, unmatched physicality on the offensive and defensive lines, and an elite defense. We're not suggesting betting +230 right now but there are crazier ways to tie up your money, and they would a great leg for parlays to boost that number up a bit if you have a book like Draftkings or Fanduel available to you.
It's just a matter of time before Nick Saban takes a team back to the national title game. They lost Bryce Young and Will Anderson to the NFL which can't be overlooked but the team is still loaded with talent. Georgia and Alabama are in a different league when it comes to recruiting and it's something that you can't overlook when betting CFB futures. You can bet that Saban is doing everything in his power to compete with the Bulldogs and it should happen sooner rather than later. If you can find 7/1 or better it's a bet that you'll want to have in the account come January.
Ohio State +750
Again not a great price but the talent in undeniable at Ohio State. Offensively they stack up with anyone in the country and the defense boasts a good amount of 4 and 5 stars guys as well. They showed they can hang with Georgia last year in the playoff and there's no reason they can't do it again. Kyle McCord would seem to be the easy choice to replace CJ Stroud and he's got a lot of upside as a highly touted 5 star recruit. The recruiting at Ohio State has been ridiculous over the past few years and people are going to be shocked at how much talent this team has at all levels.
You may need to get a bit creative with how and when you bet these three teams but if history tells us anything it's that not many teams legitimately can win with the current format. These three teams can.
These teams are on the edge of competing for a national title but need a lot of things to break right to actually make it happen. The mold we’re looking for is 2019 LSU with Joe Burrow. It really takes a transcendent player like Burrow to win the whole thing combined with a down year from at least one of those big schools. The College Football Playoff has been mostly a chalk fest. Ohio State did put a good scare in Georgia last year however, and you don't have to look back too far back to when LSU pulled off a miracle at a huge number.
Penn State +2500
Penn State could easily be a national title contender if they can get some quality play at QB. Drew Allar comes in to replace a very disappointing Sean Clifford. If Allar can play at a consistently elite level this will be their best team since 2016 when Penn State won the Big Ten. With all their returning talent from a year ago, veteran offensive line and explosive running game there is a lot to like about this team. The Big Ten has been dominated by Ohio State and Michigan over the past few years but Penn State could elevate themselves into the conversation this year. Penn State should make the playoff if they beat out the Buckeyes and the Wolverines to win the Big Ten East. They can probably get in with a loss to either OSU or Michigan as well if they can get in and win the Big Ten Championship. The best way however, is to run the table and beat Michigan at home and go into OSU and get a win too. It's no easy task but this team has close to as much talent as anyone in the Big Ten and quality QB could put them over the edge.
The Pac 12 is a bit of a crap shoot, there are a lot of good teams which means it'll be tough for one to come out either undefeated or with one loss. This is my favorite team of the conference with the talent that they have and how the schedule plays out. USC, Oregon, and Utah could easily be put into this spot but their schedules don't break quite as nicely as UW. Offensively they are one of if not the most talented teams in the Pac-12. Felix Jr. gives them a veteran presence at QB with Heisman upside. They will need to make some improvements on defense, they brought in some cornerback help in the transfer portal and have some veterans in the linebacking core. They get Oregon and Utah at home but they do have go on the road at USC late in the year which will be a huge game. If they can win the Pac-12 title with either one loss or undefeated they will make the playoff and you’ll have some options with 40/1 in pocket.
Texas A&M +6000
The Aggies aren’t as hyped up as last year which should take some pressure off this program. They have a 5 star QB set to start for them in Conner Weigman. He doesn’t have the experience but he has a very high upside and he will definitely be an upgrade from what they had last year. The Aggies have tough games against Tennessee, LSU, and Alabama. Then a potential showdown with Georgia in the conference title game. If the Aggies somehow win out, they’d likely be the number one seed in all of college football. They could even survive one loss against one of the big teams. If they do knock off Georgia they will have a real chance to win the whole thing and it would be very reminiscent of LSU. If Texas A&M can play to their full potential, don’t be shocked if they’re vying for their first CFP appearance.
Playoff Sleeper Teams
This is the TCU from last year category, teams that could run the table to finish undefeated or maybe lose one game and get into the playoff. Michigan could also be mentioned here as they managed to do it as well for the past two years, but their odds are significantly shorter this year. University of Washington surprisingly, also made their way to the playoff and to the national title game a few years back. These are teams that we wouldn't necessarily recommend betting outright to win the whole thing (unless your plan is to work on monetizing the ticket in the playoff or maybe beforehand at some point) but rather teams that we are taking a hard look at to make the playoff.
To make the college football playoff isn't as big of a market to bet into and it can be hard to find a lot of books that offer it. But it is out there and it should be considered as an option if you see a potential TCU with a chance to have a special regular season and sneak into the playoff. Even if they will be outclassed at some point by a Georgia, Bama, or Ohio State.
This would definitely fit the TCU out of nowhere template. Jeff Brohm returned to his alma mater after leading Purdue to the Big Ten championship game last season. The Cardinals did well in the transfer portal which included grabbing QB Jack Plummer who projects as their starter. Conference favorites Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina aren't on the schedule. Their toughest games look to be @NC State, vs. Notre Dame, @Miami, and Kentucky to finish off the season which looks like a pretty manageable schedule. If they can run the table they’d get an ACC Championship game against North Carolina which is a winnable game. An undefeated Louisville would be tough to leave out of the playoff, if you see a 100/1 or higher in the ‘to make the playoff’ market it looks like a good bet.
Oregon State +20000
Oregon State won 10 games last year and lost by three points to USC and Washington. The Beavers don’t have to play USC this year in the regular season and get Utah, Washington and UCLA at home. They have depth at QB with DJ Uiagalelei, returner Ben Gulbranson and four-star freshman Aidan Chiles. Leading rusher Damien Martinez is back, too. The Beavers have a tough stretch with Washington and Oregon back-to-back to close the regular season but if they are undefeated at that point look out. This is a team on the rise and they are as high as 12/1 to win the Pac-12 which looks like value with their schedule and if you see 75/1 or higher to make the playoff that would be a play too.