Assessing Top Contenders for the 2018 College Football Season

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ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Jerry Jeudy #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide is unable to make a fingertip catch against the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Assessing Top Contenders for the 2018 College Football Season

The 2018 College Football season looms. Most of us know who sits in the AP Top 10, but let’s dig a little further and see who some of the top contenders really are.

Who’s Favored to Win Their Conference?

When we check the best online sports books, like BetOnline and Bookmaker, we can see what the oddsmakers in Las Vegas and at online shops think about each team in the Power Five. Vegas always has a great bead on sports outcomes, so it would be silly not to see what they think.

  • ACC- Clemson -200
  • Big 10 – Ohio State +150
  • Big 12 – Oklahoma +140
  • Pac 12 – Washington +125
  • SEC – Alabama -125

Clemson is the heavy favorite to win the ACC in 2018 with Miami fairly far off in the second position at 5-and-a-half to one or +550. Ohio State leads the way in the Big 10, but Wisconsin is actually favored over the Buckeyes by a couple of shops and can be found at less than three to one at a few more.

The Sooners are expected to win the Big 12, but Texas is lurking on the odds boards at three to one. The Huskies top the boards in the Pac 12, but it looks like Vegas thinks that USC could sneak in there and make a run for the conference as there can be found at just +140 at a couple of books. And of course, Alabama once again starts the season at the top of the SEC, but we can’t rule out Georgia entirely.

The Defensive Line

Top-tier defenses win championships. Dominating in the trenches is where it all starts. When we break down the best defensive lines in College Football, three of the highly-ranked teams from above standout.

  1. Clemson Tigers #1
  2. Ohio State Buckeyes #2
  3. Alabama Crimson Tide #4

Alabama loves running the 3-4 and will utilize their athletic edge-rushers to harry opposing quarterbacks and running backs in the backfield. The Tide have Raekwon Davis, Isaiah Buggs, Quinnen Williams, and LaBrayan Ray. There are 139 tackles between the first third names on that list.

Ohio State has Nick Bosa returning, and he could very well end up the best defensive player in the 2018 season. He’ll have Chase Young starting opposite, who was imposing during his appearances last season. The Buckeyes also have fantastic depth. With Dre’Mont Jones, Jashon Cornell, Jonathon Cooper, as well as Robert Landers, Haskell Garrett, and Antwuan Jackson, there isn’t much of a weak spot when someone needs to rest.

Clemson has the most complete defensive front as we go into 2018. There is a good chance that four of these guys could go in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. In addition to the tour de force shown by the starters returning from last season, the Tigers have K.J. Henry and Xavier Thomas as fresh meat to the grinder. The weak-side and strong-side defensive ends are both 5-star recruits.

Top Offenses

Of course, the defense can’t do everything. In this day and age of high-octane offenses, you still have to move the ball.

  • Georgia #2
  • Oklahoma #3
  • Ohio State #4
  • Alabama #10

Some of the best offenses on paper belong to schools that will not have a chance at making the CFP. But Alabama is ranked by many as the No. 10 offense in the college football… then it gets even more competitive from there. Georgia was rated #2, but I believe that was when many thought that Nick Chubb would return. Regardless, they are a going to be a force to be reckoned and should still be a top-five offense no matter how you slice it. The Sooners and Ohio State are also expected to thrive again this season.

All in all, though I am not a Buckeyes fan, I think things might be lining up for Urban Meyer to get another National Title. They have the 4th best offense, 2nd best defensive line, and 5th best defense overall. But then again, Clemson more than likely has the best defense overall in the country, so they will be waiting to spoil everyone’s day.

 

Main Photo Credit:

ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 08: Jerry Jeudy #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide is unable to make a fingertip catch against the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

 

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