Jason Radowitz gives his top futures picks for the College Football FBS National Championship.
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It feels like just yesterday when Trevor Lawrence of Clemson out-played Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama to win last year’s FBS National Championship. Trevor Lawrence, a freshman quarterback from Knoxville, Tennessee and the Clemson Tigers defeated Alabama by the score of 44-16. Lawrence threw for 347 yards on just 20 completions, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Tagovailoa debatably had his worst showing of the year, throwing two interceptions and never really able to keep up with the Clemson Tigers offensively. Tagovailoa’s ankle was of question throughout the college football playoffs. He was injured multiple times during the season. Lawrence and Tua are the two top projected Heisman candidates this season. It makes total sense. Once my Heisman predictions are posted in a couple days, we’ll link it here. To be honest, it’s extremely hard to pick against Clemson and Alabama again this year. Clemson and Alabama own the last four championships and the streak doesn’t seem to be stopping this season either. With Lawrence and Tagovailoa returning, it would be hard to pick against Alabama and Clemson this season as well. I know you came here for some interesting selection that nobody else has thought of, but college football has been consistent. Clemson and Alabama. Here’s my breakdown on Clemson and Alabama. At the end of the breakdown, I’ll narrow it down to just one team.
There’s no denying that Clemson is an offensive powerhouse with Trevor Lawrence making his return to quarterback this season. Lawrence has top receivers like Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross. There’s also some hype around the incoming freshmen at wide receiver. Clemson has prided themselves with very good offensive lineman to protect Lawrence in the pocket. There are concerns on the defensive end. The Tigers saw Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell all get selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. I don’t think this is really a problem for Clemson. They’ve shown that they can develop players on the defensive end who are ready to compete. Xavier Thomas and K.J. Henry will return to the defense. The defense might struggle early. However, being in the ACC and not the SEC is a good thing for Clemson. If they’re able to defeat Texas A&M in the second week of the season, Clemson should cruise into the season with nothing but wins and developed talent.
If you haven’t read the recent news, Coach Nick Saban is … not very happy. Wednesday, on the SEC Network with Paul Finebaum, here’s what Saban had to say,
“When the season started, I think we were great. When we won the LSU game, it just seemed like people’s own agendas starting to become more important.”
And when Saban was questioned on what he meant, Saban responded: “Coaching. We had a lot of guys who wanted to be head coaches at different places. It takes a special person to say focused on what they have to do now when they have job somewhere else that’s awaiting them and they have a responsibility on staffs.” Saban’s new staff is completely different than last season. He’s added veteran coaches who aren’t necessarily looking for a head coaching job at this time. He’s added Steve Sarkisian, Sal Sunseri, and Kyle Flood, two of the three have held the title of Head Coach in Division 1 College Football. Alabama, a team that’s been known for their defensive play, struggled in that area last season. However, things changed in Tuscaloosa last season. The offense was historically good and the defense was mediocre. Not Bama-like. Tua Tagovailoa had a Heisman-like year and was likely the favorite to win for most of the season until Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray sneaked in. The offense begins with Tua, who had shown signs of brilliance in his ‘18-’19 sophomore campaign. The offense did lose some key pieces to the NFL, which included two elite running backs in Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris. Offensive Tackle Jonah Williams is also in the NFL, although, it seems likely that he will be missing the entire season with the Bengals due to a left shoulder injury that he needed surgery on.
But like Clemson, Alabama develops talent extremely well. Najee Harris will likely be the star running-back for Alabama this season, followed by Trey Sanders, an incoming 5-star freshman. Jerry Jeudy, who caught 14 touchdowns passes last season will be returning alongside Jaylen Waddle who is expected to see a heavy dosage of passes his way as well. This is all you need to know: Tua has playmakers all around him. He’s going to be fine. Defensively, Alabama will need to improve from a season ago. Former defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi has left for the Browns. Pete Golding has received a promotion to be the new defensive coordinator. Luckily for him, the defense brought in a ton of 5-star defensive talent. The question will be if these freshmen are going to be college-level ready when the time comes. I don’t think Nick Saban settles for anything less than a Championship this season. My FBS National Champion
PICK: Alabama (+275) at William Hill US
Other Long Shots With Value
If I’m going to pick another team to win the FBS Championship other than Clemson or Alabama, I’m looking for a couple things. First, I want to know if this team can win their conference. Unless you’re in the SEC, you basically need to win your conference to have a chance at making it into the four-team playoff.
I really like Michigan this year. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh was 0-4 against Urban Meyer’s Ohio State. Ohio State will be quarterbacking Justin Fields and they’re going to be fine. But the Big Ten just feels more open this year. It feels like a year where Michigan can come out on top. Michigan has moved to a modern system under Josh Gattis. They’re not going to be as conservative this year. With Shea Patterson coming back under center this season, something just feels right with Michigan. They have a chance.
PICK: Michigan +1900 at William Hill US
LSU Quarterback Joe Burrow has become the face of Louisiana. Sorry Drew Brees! Over the final four games of the season, Burrow completed 67 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 173.5. The offense returns most starters and has added more talent to the deep roster. Defensively, LSU has lost Greedy Williams and Devin White but there’s still a load of talent defensively on the roster. They’re DBU for a reason. Here’s the deal though. LSU is a long shot this season because they’ll have to play a tough schedule featuring the Texas Longhorns Week 2, Florida Week 6, and Alabama later in the season. They’ll have to win two out of those three if they want a chance at the National Championship. They were counted out last year. Eyes are zoomed in on them this year.
PICK: LSU +5000 at William Hill US