Alabama favored in 2022 CFP National Championship opening odds
Coming off an undefeated season, capped by a national championship, the Alabama Crimson Tide is again favored to hoist the College Football Playoff trophy for the fourth time.
Nick Saban’s squad pushed past the uncertainty and challenging circumstances of a season upended by a global pandemic. Facing an all-SEC regular-season schedule, the Crimson Tide went 10-0, defeated then-No. 7 Florida in the SEC Championship Game, and blew past No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 3 Ohio State in the CFP.
NCAAF Championship 2021/2022
Mon, January 10 2022, 3:00 AM
Alabama Crimson Tide
Ohio State Buckeyes
Iowa State Cyclones
Texas A&M Aggies
If Alabama could do all that without a normal offseason to prepare, imagine what the Tide will accomplish in the 2021 season.
New batch of Tide players primed for success
Starting quarterback and Heisman finalist Mac Jones is expected to jump to the NFL, along with wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, while running back Najee Harris and Heisman winner Devonta Smith improved their already-promising draft stock with standout performances in the national title game.
Despite the losses, including offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, Alabama will welcome the No. 1 recruiting class in 2021 and is expected to replace Sarkisian with former Houston Texans and Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien.
Dual-threat quarterback Bryce Young, the No. 2 recruit of the 2020 signing class, will step in for Jones at quarterback and have receiver John Metchie III (916 yards, six touchdowns), five-star wideout Jacorey Brooks, and returning running backs Jase McClellan and Trey Sanders at his disposal.
The Crimson Tide has already shown it can contend for a national championship year in and year out, no matter who rotates through the lineup. The +300 choice to win the 2021 title has reached the CFP every season but one (2019) since its inception in 2014.
The Tide is 8-3 in the CFP and has won the championship three times, more than any other school.
Clemson still a top contender after Lawrence departure
The program with the next-best odds to claim the national title is, unsurprisingly, Clemson (+350).
With two CFP trophies, the Tigers’ history in the playoff is almost as dominant as the Crimson Tide’s. The ACC power missed the first CFP, which Ohio State won, but has competed in the series every season since.
To earn a seventh-straight berth, Clemson will need to adapt to life after Trevor Lawrence, the projected first-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Since 2002, only four ACC QBs (min. 100 attempts) have had a higher passer rating than D.J. Uiagalelei's 146.4 in their freshman years:— Ross Taylor (@ClemsonFBRoss) January 15, 2021
- Deshaun Watson (188.6 in 2014)
- Jameis Winston (184.8 in 2013)
- Sam Howell (160.2 in 2019)
- Trevor Lawrence (157.6 in 2018)
During Clemson’s 10-2 season, Lawrence missed one game, because of COVID-19, which forced D.J. Uiagalelei to step up in a midseason matchup with Notre Dame. The freshman turned in a solid performance, with 439 passing yards and three total touchdowns, in a 47-40 overtime loss.
The ACC’s all-time leading rusher, Travis Etienne, is also off to the NFL, which will likely make Lyn-J Dixon the new lead back.
Clemson will also usher in the No. 4 recruiting class.
Oklahoma may be best positioned for title run
The Ohio State Buckeyes possess the third-best odds to win the CFP title (+400), but their offense could take a hit without quarterback Justin Fields.
One frequent CFP participant who will enjoy some stability at quarterback is Oklahoma (+800), which narrowly missed a fourth-straight playoff berth in 2020.
Redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler will return to the Sooners with a full season as a starter under his belt. During OU's 9-2 campaign, the former five-star recruit completed 67.5% of his passes for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns, with just seven interceptions.
Early in the season, Oklahoma suffered two close losses, to Kansas State and Iowa State, but Rattler helped propel the Sooners to an eight-win streak, including victories in the Big 12 Championship Game and the Cotton Bowl against Florida.
Even if head coach Lincoln Riley makes the leap to the NFL, this team has the weapons, and displayed enough improvement on defense, to finally get its first win in the College Football Playoff.
Other 2021 CFP hopefuls
Another team to keep an eye on is perennial defensive force Georgia (+1000). After the Bulldogs offense sputtered behind quarterback Stetson Bennett, USC transfer JT Daniels ascended as the starter and guided Georgia to four straight victories.
Next season, Daniels (1,231 yards, 10 touchdowns passing) will likely head the offense, which will get star running back Zamir White (779 yards, 11 touchdowns rushing) for another year.
As for a longer shot, Iowa State (+3300) could again contend for the Big 12 title.
With quarterback Brock Purdy, the nation's top rusher Breece Hall (1,572 yards), All-American tight end Charlie Kolar, and leading receiver Xavier Hutchinson returning, last year's top 10 squad shouldn't skip a beat.
The team ranked third in the Big 12 in scoring offense (32.9 points per game) and second in scoring defense (21.8 points allowed). With much of its core group intact for another season, we may just witness the best year in Iowa State history.