By Dan Kilbridge | | 5 mins
2023 CFP Title Best Bet: Why Ohio State Is Worth A Futures Wager
The gridiron wagering action doesn’t stop after the National Championship. The college football betting process is a year-round activity as we track the transfer portal, recruiting classes, coaching attrition and, of course, college football futures odds for the upcoming season.
The 2023 National Championship futures odds went up on betting apps as soon as the Alabama-Georgia title game ended, with the Tide and Bulldogs in the top spots again entering next season.
Finding value in futures betting is tricky. In some spots, you’re looking for the out-of-nowhere pick. That’s the case with Heisman Trophy odds. Recent winners like DeVonta Smith, Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray were completely off the radar from a betting perspective entering the season and cashed big tickets.
National Championship betting is different. The chalk tends to hit with College Football Playoff odds. Over the past seven seasons, LSU is the only team to win the title with odds longer than +700. Those Bayou Bengals were ninth on the board with +3330 college football odds and stunned the betting world by going 15-0 en route to the 2019 title.
It’s smart to size up the entire Heisman board and take a few flyers. But it’s better to stay focused on the top of the board when assessing the National Championship futures market entering the 2023 season.
2023 National Championship Pick
Odds: +800 at FanDuel
The Sportsbooks and betting sites currently have the title picture as a top-heavy race, with Georgia (+200), Alabama (+200), Ohio State (+800) and Clemson (+1000) the only teams carrying odds shorter than +4000. The past decade suggests that one of those four is the correct play, and we’ve got our eye on a Buckeyes team that narrowly missed out on the College Football Playoff and should be even better in 2022.
It starts with quarterback C.J. Stroud, who returns for his sophomore season after finishing fourth in Heisman voting with 4,435 passing yards and 44 touchdowns. We saw Stroud make big strides throughout the season, particularly with his accuracy. He was a little shaky to start but ended up with some stellar performances, none better than the Rose Bowl.
Stroud completed 80.4% of his passes for 573 yards and six touchdowns during the win over Utah in Pasadena. He did it without top targets Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, who opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft, and showed just how dangerous this offense could be again next season.
Wilson and Olave are significant losses, but junior-to-be Jaxon Smith-Njigba made one hell of a statement with a record-setting 15 catches for 347 yards and three touchdowns in the Rose Bowl. Running back TreVeyon Henderson also returns after a stellar freshman season in which he rushed for 1,248 yards and 15 scores.
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Overall, the Buckeyes are expected to return six starters from an offense that finished first in the nation with 561.5 yards per game. We’re very confident Ohio State will field another elite group on that side of the ball, perhaps with some help from a 2022 recruiting class that ranks fourth nationally.
Defense was the concern for Ohio State in big games this year. They weren’t good enough in losses to Oregon and Michigan, and the Buckeyes still surrendered 45 points in the Rose Bowl win. That could change in 2022 with Ryan Day bringing on former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.
Knowles will reportedly earn $1.9 million a year with the Buckeyes after turning the Cowboys into one of the best defensive teams in the nation in recent years, including a 2021 team that finished fifth in total defense and gave up an average of just 297.9 yards per game. Ohio State also brings back roughly seven defensive starters and could get immediate help from true freshman CJ Hicks, the No. 1-ranked linebacker recruit in the country.
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If Knowles fields a defense that looks anything like some of his Cowboys squads, the Buckeyes could definitely be the best team in the country next year even with a schedule that’s not as favorable as the 2021 slate.
The Buckeyes open against Notre Dame and have tough cross-divisional games against Iowa and Wisconsin, but they get all three of those teams for true home games in Columbus. Notable road trips include Michigan State and Penn State, with Ohio State getting Michigan at home this year after losing to the Wolverines for the first time since 2011.
Day and the Buckeyes aren’t exactly new at this, and we project Ohio State to finish the regular season 11-1 on the way to yet another Big Ten title and CFP appearance. With an improved defense, they won’t be overmatched by any of the three teams they could see in the playoffs. We like the futures odds on Ohio State to win the National Championship at +800 at FanDuel.