Perennial Power Alabama a Prohibitive Favorite to Win National Championship
Alabama is the talk of college football...again. The Crimson Tide are a prohibitive favorite to reach the College Football Playoff and win another national championship. Wagering on the biggest favorites to win a championship prior to the season offers no value. The risk of key injuries or an unexpected defeat can prove costly, especially in college football when 2 losses eliminates you from the playoff picture, which remains at just four teams that can qualify to win a national championship.
But over the past decade, Alabama's dominance has been daunting. This year, the Crimson Tide are the 3-1 favorite to win another National Championship at leading offshore sports books, and even less in Las Vegas (+250). So does Alabama really have the best shot to win it all?
Alabama Crimson Tide – (+300) NCAA Championship
Alabama had to reload again last season, yet the 'Tide were tough again in Tuscaloosa while winning another SEC West title and SEC championship. But a thrilling national title game saw Clemson take down the 'Tide on a last second TD to win 35-31. Now Alabama opens the 2017-18 season as the favorite to win the National Championship again, despite losing 10 players in the NFL Draft, including four in the first round. Alabama is the overwhelming favorite at +300 at BookMaker, and even +250 at other sports books.
A decade of dominance has seen the Crimson Tide win 11 games or more in all but one season. Since 2008, Alabama is 100-8 in the regular season, and they have won 4 national championships under coach Nick Saban during that time, while reaching the title game five times, including each of the last three years during new newly formed college football playoff system. Alabama has reached the SEC championship game six times since 2008, winning the SEC title five times, including each of the last three years by at least two touchdowns.
Alabama's season win total has been posted at 11 (-118 at BookMaker) this season, so another exceptional season is expected for the Crimson Tide. While the season win number is very high again, note that Alabama will likely be favored by a TD or more in all 12 games this season, with their season opener vs. Florida State on a neutral field at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Alabama is a 7-point favorite vs. Florida State, and the Crimson Tide open the season ranked No. 1 in the country, while Florida State is ranked top-4. The Seminoles odds are 9-1 at the future books to win the national championship, and FSU is also one of the best teams in the country to start the season. Alabama plays 7 home games, 4 road games and the neutral field contest vs. non-conference foe Florida State. Since 2008, Alabama has not lost a non-conference game, and only 5 teams have beaten the Crimson Tide.
A remarkable decade of dominance by the 'Tide, and another college football playoff appearance is expected by Alabama. However, I would never recommend betting on Alabama to win the National Championship this season, and prefer finding a prop playing against them or vs. a number of other contenders. The 'Tides final game at Auburn will be a stern test, and if they struggle more than anticipated, which I expect during the season, then their road favorite role will diminish when the 'Tide tackles the Tigers Nov. 25.
Another factor that is not being given enough credence in my opinion is the new offensive coordinator and offensive system being implemented this season at Alabama. Ironically in our comparison of perennial powers, Alabama hired former New England Patriots TE coach Brian Daboll as its new offensive coordinator. Since his arrival in the spring, Alabama has been in the process of fusing elements of the offense that existed before his arrival with the concepts New England employs. The Patriots run a multi-faceted system. But the pro players in that system have become familiar with the adjustments and personnel packages. Daboll is employing this system to many 18-20 year olds, and it's all new to them. In addition, while Alabama's offensive line is expected to be strong again, they do have to replace an All-American left tackle, plus a right guard, and a highly-touted freshman could start at right tackle. Quarterback Jalen Hurts gets much praise for his play as a true freshman last season, but he's far from a polished passer and the spotlight is brighter than ever this season. Sure the 'Bama defense may dominate again, and all the 'experts' say Alabama is so strong across nearly every position category except special teams. I'm not as convinced, and it's just not going to come as easy as so many expect, and that includes reaching the CFB playoffs and national title game.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay