Way Too Early Picks to Reach the College Football Playoff

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TreVeyon Henderson #32 of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

College football is undergoing a massive shift. NIL deals are impacting recruiting. The Transfer Portal is making it easier for teams to turn programs around. The stakes are higher, and teams are looking to rise up the ranks.  

Will that change the landscape of the College Football Playoff? We’ve seen teams surprise us once or twice, but the same competitors usually stay in the mix. Alabama has made every College Football Playoff except for one. At least one team from the Big Ten should be in the mix. Oklahoma is usually in the hunt along with Clemson and Georgia.  

Will the exodus of assistants hurt the Clemson Tigers? Can Georgia make it back to the CFP without their star defense? Can Oklahoma find success without Lincoln Riley?  Who will make the 2023 CFP? 

Here are four college football picks that have a solid shot of making the College Football Playoff with early odds for winning it all.

Alabama Crimson Tide (+200 to Win Title) 

This is a tired pick, but it has to be made. Any prediction that doesn’t include Alabama in the College Football Playoff is just trying to be different for the sake of arguing. The Tide have been the top seed in the past two seasons, and they return a Heisman quarterback.  

In fact, the Tide return the two best players from last year’s team. Bryce Young will be under center and Will Anderson will be looking to set records as an edge rusher. They also retain key players on defense, including Henry To’o To’o and Jordan Battle.  

Alabama has won the Transfer Portal with three key additions. They have depth at receiver, and the schedule is nowhere near as hard as it could be. They’ll host Texas A&M and Auburn, so they mostly have to worry about traveling to play LSU, Texas, Tennessee, and Ole Miss.  

Alabama knows how to rebound after a disappointing loss, and they’ll be motivated to win another title in 2022. They deserve to have the best NCAAF odds to do just that.  

Ohio State Buckeyes (+550 to Win Title) 

If you’re looking for more value, a bet on the Buckeyes to win it all makes sense. They bring back another elite quarterback, and they have one of the best receivers in the game. Despite losing Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, they retain Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the leader in receptions and yards.  

TreVeyon Henderson is a great back, and you can always count on the Buckeyes to have talent on the defensive side. If C.J. Stroud makes the necessary progress, this offense should be one of the best in the country. We’ll see how they look in the spring without two elite receivers, but they should be near the top of the rankings. With a winnable schedule, the Buckeyes should have their eyes set on more than making it to the CFP. 

Clemson Tigers (+1000 to Win Title) 

After how they looked last year, seeing Clemson near the top of the rankings might surprise you. The value isn’t great, but the Tigers have more than most teams do. For starters, they took strides at the end of last season. They also bring back a solid quarterback. D.J. Uiagalelei wasn’t perfect, but he still has the talent necessary to win the ACC.  

Clemson recruits well, and they’ll have talent on defense. The loss of coordinators is concerning, but the Tigers should still be a solid team.  

Also, Clemson’s schedule is laughably bad. They play Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish won’t be a top team in 2022. Outside of that, Clemson will either avoid or host the best teams in the ACC. They’ll also host South Carolina, so the toughest games will be played at home. At this point, any loss would be an upset for this team. 

USC Trojans (+5000 to Win Title) 

The Trojans are one of the few teams with a terrible 2021 to have a shot in 2022. This comes down to a few key forces. It helps that they have Lincoln Riley, one of the best offensive minds in college football. Also, they’ve dominated the Transfer Portal. That will help with the turnaround needed to bring USC back to relevance.  

If the Trojans can land Caleb Williams as a transfer quarterback, the value of this bet will skyrocket. The team is a quarterback away from looking really dangerous, and the Pac-12 is begging for a team to dominate. That could easily be the Trojans, and that would carry them to the College Football Playoff for the first time.