The first is Ohio State to win the national championship at +1200 via 5Dimes (1 unit). OSU has gone 12-0 the last two regular seasons, and I see no reason the Buckeyes can't do it again. I have them favored in every game this year, including the roadies at Penn State and Michigan State (revenge game), taking a 12-0 record into the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin or possibly Nebraska. They have a legit Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Braxton Miller (+800 at 5Dimes) under center, one of the best top-to-bottom rosters in football, and head coach Urban Meyer. My only concern is the lack of experience on the offensive line, but it isn't enough to keep me from backing the best team in the Big Ten, and one of the top coaches in the game.
My second pick is Georgia at +5000 at 5Dimes (1/2 unit). I was shocked by this number when it came out because of how much value it offered. I feel that Georgia is the top team in the SEC East and will likely be favored in every game except South Carolina and maybe Auburn. The injury bug spread like wildfire on this team last year, decimating them on both sides of the ball and yet they still cobbled together an 8-5 season. And 4 of those 5 losses were within a touchdown of a victory. They have a pretty favorable schedule with road games at South Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and the yearly neutral site Florida game. The loss of QB Aaron Murray will hurt, but new starter Hutson Mason performed well after Murray went down near the end of last year. I also love the addition of Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who last year coached defending national champion Florida State's D into one of the best in the country. And that stable of running backs this season rivals Alabama and Arkansas as one of the deepest in football. The Bulldogs are gonna be very physical this year and should flat-out wear teams down with their running game.
Auburn +1200 at 5Dimes. I know, I'm definitely in the minority here. There appear to be too many reasons to put your money on the Tigers. They beat Alabama last year and played for the title. This is the first year that HC Gus Malzahn will get to work with a returning QB in Nick Marshall. Oh, and that offense, that sweet, sweet offense. Those are all logical arguments, but last year was a fluke. They beat Bama after Nick Saban made an uncharacteristic strategic mistake. The week prior, the Tigers beat Georgia because of a lucky tipped ball. Lucky breaks, both times. But the Florida State game for the national title was proof that you need to D up to win it all. They were a Cinderella squad last year, but this team will be wearing a big target and play some tough, tough road games, including Kansas State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia and Bama. And the cross-division foes, Georgia and South Carolina, are the tops in the East. I feel they regress a bit this year and take a 9-3 record into the Capitol One Bowl.
Oklahoma +1400 at 5Dimes. Sure, the Sooners have the deepest, most talented squad in the Big XII. But I can't get past the nagging in my head that keeps telling me they will underperform. Sure, Oklahoma beat Alabama handily in the Sugar Bowl last year, but the Tide quit before that game even started. Yes, the Sooners have a stud dual-threat QB, but nearly the entire backfield is green. And of course they look to have a favorable schedule, but could Baylor or Oklahoma State come into Norman and kill the team's title hopes? Maybe it's just the nickname of Choke-lahoma. While I think the Sooners have a better shot of getting to the new four-team playoff than Auburn, there's no way I see them making it to the title game.