Clemson’s Travis Etienne celebrates after the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. Clemson beat Alabama 44-16. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Clemson’s Travis Etienne celebrates after the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. Clemson beat Alabama 44-16. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)|Associated Press
NCAAF

NCAAF: Penn St. in next year’s Bowl Championship? They’re 100-1

Oddsmakers have Clemson as the favorite to repeat.

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

So, on the theory that it’s never too early to start thinking about the next college football season, which by the way will start in less than nine months from now . . .

Clemson and Alabama have both gone 55-4 the last four years, with each winning two national titles. This time it was Clemson’s turn, by a surprising score of 44-16 in Monday night’s final. Both are supposed to be just as good if not better in 2019, with two Heisman Trophy kind of quarterbacks coming back. And not shockingly, they have been installed as the favorites to win it all again next January. And just as unsurprising,
nobody else is really close.

It’s sort of like betting on if the Warriors are going to win another NBA title.

Clemson is + $180 in the opening odds, with Bama next at + $250. After that it’s Georgia and Ohio State, at 12-1. The Bulldogs also have their QB back, and he’s pretty good, and they did have Bama beat in each of the last two meetings before letting things get away. OSU will not have Urban Meyer, which probably can’t help, but they may have a new QB in the transfer from Georgia who was the top recruit at that position a year ago. But he still has to win his appeal to gain immediate eligibility.

Michigan, which can’t beat OSU, is 14-1. Oklahoma, which must replace a Heisman-winning QB for the third straight year, is 15-1. Texas is 20, Nebraska (Nebraska?) 25, as are Washington, Florida and Notre Dame. Oregon, with its Heisman-worthy QB staying put instead of opting for the NFL draft, is 30. Penn State, which has to replace its three-year starting QB, is 100. Yo.

So who would you place a few bucks on at this point?

My first inclination would be Bama, just because they’ll be thinking about what happened on Monday through the whole offseason, for whatever that’s worth. That same thing did seem to motivate Clemson this year. But the odds on both are so low that it’s probably not worth investing all that much. And Clemson would appear to have the easier road to the playoffs, given that the ACC isn’t as loaded as the SEC.

If you’re looking for something a little more profitable (and remember you’ll be betting against everything the last four years has told you) I would take a shot on Georgia. You could say that the Dawgs have already had two good chances and blown them. But they will have as much talent as anyone, and are one of the few teams that can legitimately match up with the two heavyweights. And 12-1 ain’t too shabby.

The problem is Georgia plays in the same neighborhood as Bama. So the question becomes which is harder, getting into the tournament or finding a way to maybe have to beat Clemson and/or Bama once you get there? And Georgia hosts Notre Dame next season.

You might want to look at a team that has an easier path to the final four, like Oregon. Of course that doesn’t mean the Ducks would be equipped to take the final steps once you they got there, but first things first. You can’t win your bet if you can’t qualify. Along those lines, I think Texas might be worth a second look as well.

But if you polled 100 folks at the moment, about 90-95 percent would likely tell you they’d go with one of the big two to make it five in a row. And it would be hard to argue with them. But what’s the thrill with sticking with the chalk? Unless of course the chalk cashes, which is the whole point.

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