Find line reports, best bets, and subscribe to push notifications in the Betting News section.
How ironic is it that last year, in a season where it was supposed to be Alabama, Clemson, and everybody else, that a dark horse like LSU came swooping in to win the national title? I can guarantee you as I list my five long shots to win next season's championship, there's a 100% chance the chalk wins out. It's inevitable.
Here are sneaky title contenders with odds too good to pass up.
I think it's funny how a team like Florida is going off at 12-1, yet the Gators would be considered a dark horse if they won. If Oklahoma - which is 20-1 - doesn't make the four-team playoff, it'll likely be seen as a colossal failure for the program. It just doesn't make a lot of sense.
I love Florida more than the next bettor - Kyle Trask for Heisman, yes - but let's play a little game. Would you rather take 12-1 on a team that might be the fourth-best in its conference, or 20-1 on a team that will likely come out of the Big 12, has similar returning production, and has recruited better over the last three years? Tagging Oklahoma as a long shot seems like a stretch, but this price is out of control. Take the bargain.
Texas A&M has become a poster child for mediocrity, winning between seven and nine games in each of the last seven seasons. However, this could be the year head coach Jimbo Fisher sees it all come together.
For starters, the Aggies' returning production is pretty nasty. That familiarity should see A&M improve significantly on the nation's 41st-ranked scoring defense and No. 70 scoring offense.
Secondly, A&M's been relentless on the recruiting trail, finishing No. 4, 13, and 17 in the country in each of the last three years. It also doesn't hurt to be spearheaded by a veteran quarterback in Kellen Mond.
Finally, Texas A&M has the second-easiest schedule in the SEC. The Aggies will have road games against Auburn and Alabama, and another home tilt against LSU, but have a cake walk outside of that.
Texas is cut from a similar cloth as Texas A&M, at least when you look at what the program has to offer. Returning production was always going to be on the upswing after starting so many underclassmen in 2019. The offense is right around the middle of the pack, but only 10 other teams return more talent on defense.
Offensively, Texas is probably fine despite the lack of returning production. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger has two-plus years of experience as a starter and Mike Yurcich taking over as offensive coordinator was one of the splashiest assistant hires of the offseason.
Recruiting-wise, Texas is starting to get its footing back. After securing the No. 7 class in the country in 2016, the Longhorns saw an unconventional drop to No. 25 in 2017. However, they've pulled in back-to-back No. 3 classes nationally, meaning the talent on the field in 2020 should look a lot better.
The Longhorns face the 10th-toughest schedule, though, including road games at LSU, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.
Still, I think Texas is close to being back.
The PAC-12 is pretty wide-open, so let's get weird.
Under head coach Herm Edwards, Arizona State's improved on the recruiting trail. Barring disaster, the Sun Devils will round up a top-25 2020 class, their second straight year in the top 30 nationally. In terms of returning production, Arizona State loses a chunk of the offense, but brings back more than half of a defense that finished No. 39 in points allowed per game last season.
Led by a dual-threat gem under center and a coach who has found a formula to win games at the collegiate level, ASU at 100-1 is an absurd price.
North Carolina's done a decent job recruiting. The school was No. 29 nationally in 2016, No. 20 in 2017, and No. 30 in 2018. It's probably not enough to mold a title contender, but the Tar Heels have some talent to work with. They bring back Heisman contender Sam Howell (+2800) and an offense that collectively returns the fifth-most production in the country from last year.
The schedule is pretty rough. Road games at Auburn, Central Florida, Virginia, Clemson, and Miami don't seem very pleasant. But when you're breaking down the price and the talent on the field, I find it hard for a team of this caliber to be had at 200-1. It's tough not to take this price after seeing it 80-1 and 90-1 in other places.
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.