For most schools, making the four-team College Football Playoff field is an accomplishment. For example, the Washington Huskies were more than happy to be part of the national semifinals for the first time ever last year.
However, for the Alabama Crimson Tide, beating the Huskies and simply playing in the CFP National Championship Game for the third year in a row was not good enough. This season, Alabama will look to rebound and win its second national title in three years as the +275 betting favorite (wager $100 to win $275) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Led by sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts, the Crimson Tide will be more experienced offensively, something that played a key role in them winning the 2015 national title. The Clemson Tigers had the more seasoned signal-caller in Deshaun Watson last year, and he took advantage of the opportunity to upset Alabama in a rematch for the championship.
Without Watson under center this season, the defending national champions have slipped a bit and are listed as +2800 long shots to repeat.
Winning a conference title is important obviously, but not essential. Ask the Ohio State Buckeyes about that after they failed to reach the Big Ten Championship Game a year ago but still squeaked into the CFP semifinals as the No. 3 seed.
The Buckeyes are at +600 to win the national title—and set at -120 to win the Big Ten championship—and have made the CFP in two of the first three seasons of its existence, winning the national title in 2014 as the No. 4 seed behind running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Cardale Jones. Only the Tide have been better, making it all three years.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett is back for Ohio State and hopes to win his first NCAA championship as a starter after giving way to Jones when he was injured.
Other top contenders to win the CFP National Championship Game this season include the USC Trojans (+700), Florida State Seminoles (+700), Oklahoma Sooners (+1400), Penn State Nittany Lions (+1400) and Michigan Wolverines (+1600).
Of that group, only the Seminoles (2013) have won the NCAA title within the past 13 years. It is also worth noting that the Nittany Lions are the defending Big Ten champions and return starting quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley.