The 2021 college football season is less than three weeks away. It won’t be long before bettors can get back to the business of capitalizing on America’s most popular sport. With training camps winding down, here’s a look at where bettors can get in early in the CFB conference futures market.
It’s like déjà vu all over again. Reigning national champion Alabama is the -165 favorite to win the SEC again. There are plenty of other value picks to upset the Crimson Tide. The list begins with Georgia (+190) which will have J.T. Daniels start at quarterback for the season. The Bulldogs will once again have one of the best defenses in the conference. Georgia does not cross over and face Alabama in the regular season either. The Bulldogs crossover games are Vanderbilt and Auburn.
Texas A&M (+1200), which loses QB Kellen Mond, but returns enough talent to make a run at the SEC title. Florida lost QB Kyle Trask and TE Kyle Pitts to the NFL but still have enough talent to fall in at +1400 in the conference race. LSU is still searching for Joe Burrow’s replacement. The Tigers are listed at +1600 in the college football futures market. The most interesting prospect is Ole Miss. Lane Kiffin’s Rebels are listed at +4000 but have an imaginative offense run by veteran QB Matt Corral.
There really isn’t any question as to which team will win the Big Ten in 2021. Ohio State has won the last four straight titles and they are a -210 favorite to do so again this season. That the Buckeyes are such a big favorite is a testament to a program that began to rebuild under former head coach Urban Meyer. Ohio State will replace QB Justin Fields with C.J. Stroud, who looked good in the spring.
If one team could challenge the Buckeyes hold on the Big Ten title, it is Wisconsin. The Badgers are listed at +550 and have the kind of defense that forces offenses to cave. Still, Wisconsin might not have the horses to stay with Ohio State in 2021. Penn State and Michigan are both listed at +700 and will get their chances to beat Ohio State in the regular season. Michigan has lost six straight to the Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions have won once in the last nine meetings with Ohio State.
There has been similar dominance in the Big 12 where Oklahoma has won six straight conference championships. All indications point to a seventh as QB Spencer Rattler is the early Heisman Trophy favorite. After two poor performances early last season, Rattler was magnificent in the Sooners last seven games.
As a result, Oklahoma is a -200 favorite in the futures market to win a seventh consecutive conference title. The biggest challenge will come from Iowa State (+375) which beat the Sooners in the regular season last year. QB Brock Purdy and RB Breece Hall return to lead a powerful Cyclones offense.
Also challenging the Sooners dominance is Texas, which is given +450 odds to win in 2021. The Longhorns will have a new head coach in Steve Sarkisian and will have to find a way to beat rival Oklahoma and Iowa State. Oklahoma State (+1400) seems to always be in the mix, but the surprise team this year is probably TCU.
The Horned Frogs are given rather long +1600 odds, but QB Max Duggan is back as is 90 percent of TCU’s offense. This season, head coach Gary Patterson shouldn’t be faced with everything from COVID to heart issues…but this is still Oklahoma’s conference to lose.
Like the Big Ten and Big 12, the ACC has been ruled by one team for the past six seasons. Clemson has won six straight ACC championships and despite the loss of No. 1 draft pick Trevor Lawrence, the Tigers are once again favored to win it all in the college football futures market.
D.J. Uiagalelei started two games in place of Lawrence last season and showed why he was the nation’s No. 1 recruit in his class. With Uiagalelei and a defensive line that may be the best in the country, Clemson is a -835 favorite to repeat as ACC champs.
The biggest – and only – competition will come from a revived North Carolina program that may have next year’s No. 1 NFL draft pick – QB Sam Howell. The Tar Heels are listed at +700 and will battle Miami (+1000) for the Coastal Division title and an opportunity to dethrone the Tigers.
Despite losing some offensive firepower from last year’s team, the college football futures market favors Oregon (+225) to win a second straight Pac-12 title. The Ducks backed into the conference title game last year when Washington (+400) was unable to represent the North Division due to a depleted roster.
The Ducks will have graduate transfer Anthony Brown and three freshmen compete for the starting quarterback job. The Ducks will also have a new look on defense as coordinator Andy Avalos left to become the new head coach at Boise State.
Also listed at +400 is the Ducks’ biggest competition for the conference title – USC. The Trojans return QB Kedon Slovis, who should figure into the Heisman Trophy race. Arizona State (+475) is also in the mix with the return of QB Jayden Daniels. Utah (+1800) could be a longshot with a defense that was in the top-15 in the nation last year in Defensive Havoc rating.