The underdog teams to watch in the next college football season

The underdog teams to watch in the next college football season
College football is always unpredictable, even in normal times. It’s one of the factors that make the season so exciting. Watching new, unranked players showing what they’re made of, and previously so-so teams suddenly clicking and going from strength to strength is a joyous experience. As for the favorites, a single game going in an unexpected direction can jam the wheels of the most confident campaign.
This year, however, the unpredictability is ramped up by the fact that we are living in far from normal times. It’s looking hopeful that the college football season will be able to resume this fall, and games have been scheduled. The coronavirus pandemic means that the usual training season has been completely disrupted. As a result, anyone looking for indications as to which teams and players are shaping up to show winning form is more reliant than ever on guesswork and intuition.
That said, it is still possible to look at the past form of players and teams and to make some sound predictions. The chances of an undervalued team coming seemingly out of nowhere to hit a winning streak are even higher than usual in the 2020-21 season, making this an excellent time to learn how to read college football betting lines so that you can get a wager in early.
Anyone’s game
Clemson Tigers are the favorites this season, given a 36% chance of winning the national championship by ESPN. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a strong defensive line and a relatively easy schedule, mean their chances of getting to the playoffs are 81%. But a 36% chance of winning means that there’s still a 64% chance of another team taking the championship, and that could be one of any number of contenders.
The dark horse
Ohio State is currently the second favorite, while Alabama is in third place according to pre-season rankings. After the top three, punters differ, but a dark horse to watch could be Wisconsin. Though currently ranked at 11, the Badgers have been given a 34% chance of making the playoffs and a 6% chance of winning the championship.
Quarterback Jack Coan is returning, who was placed eighth in the total quarterback rankings last season. Wisconsin has good form in both the offensive and defensive line-ups, and valuable continuity in head coach Paul Chryst. Like the Tigers, the Badgers have a pretty easy ride scheduled, not going up against division leaders Ohio State in the regular season. That gives them the potential to build up enough points early on so that even if they lost against Ohio in a Big Ten Championship game, it wouldn’t necessarily disqualify them from the playoff.
Bulldogs and other underdogs
Top of the list of real underdogs to watch are the Georgia Bulldogs. They’ve been given a 26% chance of getting to the playoff and a 5% chance of winning the national championship for the first time in 40 years. Georgia last won the SEC championship in 2017. Unfortunately, they’ve lost several key players this season, including Andrew Thomas, Isaiah Wilson, and Solomon Kindley, resulting in a severely depleted offensive line.
In their favor, the Bulldogs have real depth in their choice of quarterbacks, with Jamie Newman, D’Wan Mathis, Carson Beck, and Stetson Bennett all available. If JT Daniels is eligible to play, then either he or Newman will be a shoo-in for a starter. Both are excellent players but have very different styles, giving Georgia the luxury of being able to adapt their game to their opponents.
The Bulldogs’ other big plus is star receiver George Pickens, and he looks to be backed by a strong batch of freshman wide receivers coming in. With Trey Hill returning at center, Justin Shaffer and Ben Cleveland in guard and Jamaree Salyer moving to tackle position, Georgia are the underdogs to watch. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken has the experience to turn these elements into a force to be reckoned with.
The other underdog teams to look out for are Penn State, Oregon, Florida, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame. There’s not much to choose between them, and their rankings are very close, but Georgia remains the pick of the bunch.
The outside chance
Finally, if you want to put money on a real outside chance, then there’s an admittedly slim possibility that this could be Texas’s year. ESPN gives them a 10% chance of making the playoff and a 1% chance of winning the national. But their odds of winning the Big 12 are 39%, just behind favorites Oklahoma (41%). The fact that last year their playoff chances were only 0.5% shows how much the Longhorns have improved.
In an uncertain season, there’s still everything to play for. Outside of the big three, Wisconsin and Georgia are definitely the ones to watch, but other contenders could quickly emerge once we’re in play. It looks like it’s going to be an exciting fall.