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college football

Can A Dark Horse Win 2023 College Football National Championship?

  • Justin Melo
  • July 7, 2022
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With the college football season fast approaching (we can’t wait), it’s worth taking a look at an interesting set of odds for the 2023 National Championship winner provided by BetOnline. The trio of Alabama, Ohio State, and Georgia currently possess -350 odds of one of them winning the title, while the remaining “field” is available at +225.

Siding with the “field” often represents the wise decision from a numbers perspective, but in this specific scenario, a dark horse squad is incredibly unlikely to win the National Championship.

Minimizing the scenario to the four-team playoff, there’s an excellent chance Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State will represent three of the four teams in the playoff, barring an unexpected outcome. It makes siding with “the field” an even less desirable leap of faith. From a talent perspective, Alabama and Ohio State both appear leaps and bounds above the competition, with the defending champion Georgia Bulldogs serving as their most realistic adversary. With all three teams paired together via the odds, siding with them is the easy choice.

Alabama currently rosters three players ranked in TDN’s early top-10 prospect reveal for the 2023 NFL Draft, two of which rank inside our top five. They are EDGE Will Anderson (No. 1), cornerback Eli Ricks (No. 5), and quarterback Bryce Young (No. 10). The 2022 iteration of the Crimson Tide is bursting at the seams with additional first-round talents, but the focus of their national championship efforts will center on this group. Last season’s runners-up, Alabama has captured three national titles since 2015 and is looking to reclaim glory in 2023.

The reigning Heisman winner, Young became the first quarterback in Alabama’s illustrious history to win the most famous individual award in college football last season. Young was outstanding throughout the 2021 campaign, his first as a starter, throwing for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. A similar output will undeniably catapult Alabama into the national title conversation once again.

Ohio State currently possesses two prospects in TDN’s top 10: quarterback C.J. Stroud (No. 2 overall) and left tackle Paris Johnson (No. 9 overall). Stroud is the current favorite to be the first quarterback drafted in 2023, possibly with the No. 1 overall selection depending on whether or not the NFL’s worst team has a franchise quarterback or not. 

Stroud was excellent as a freshman signal-caller throughout last season. Stroud completed 71.9% of his passing attempts en route to totaling 4,435 passing yards, 44 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Ohio State’s roster is loaded with NFL-caliber talent all throughout, but make no mistake, it’s Stroud’s commanding presence that makes the Buckeyes a threat to win their first title since 2014.

As the reigning champions, the Georgia Bulldogs may feel slightly disrespected by the amount of attention Ohio State and Alabama are currently receiving, but it qualifies as understandable. Although Georgia will field an excellent squad, the program is also expected to experience a bit of a transition period. An astounding 15 Bulldogs were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, more than any other program, including No. 1 overall selection Travon Walker. Five Georgia defensive players were taken during the first round, the most from an individual school in draft history. It’s going to take some time for the Bulldogs to refill that cupboard, even though the next generation of talent is painfully obvious (Jalen Carter, folks).

Michigan and Cincinnati were the two surprise programs to qualify for the college football playoff last season, but neither team proved capable of realistically competing alongside heavyweights Georgia and Alabama. Ohio State appears poised to join those two elites in 2022. If Alabama or Ohio State doesn’t capture the upcoming national championship, it will almost certainly be a Georgia repeat. The field, which may include one of Clemson, Notre Dame, or Texas, doesn’t stand much of a chance.

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Justin Melo