Last Year’s Five Sleeper Teams (Washington, Georgia, Wisconsin, Stanford & Miami) went 55-14 straight up including Georgia who nearly won the National Title at 30/1!
For these sleeper bets, we’ll exclude the top six favorites for this year. I must admit though betting on Nick Saban (Alabama 7/4) or Urban Meyer (Ohio State 8/1) at this point is never a bad investment. The two have combined for 9 titles in the last 15 years and when they don’t win, they’re usually in the hunt.
1. Oklahoma (25/1 at William Hill)
The Sooners have won three straight Big 12 Titles and have made the CFB Playoffs in two of the last three seasons. While Oklahoma has to replace Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield at QB, his replacement Kyler Murray already has starting experience from his days at Texas A&M. The Sooners also return break-out star Rodney Alexander at RB. The schedule could see the Sooners favored in all 12 games this season. Their four toughest games come at Iowa State, vs Texas (in Dallas), at TCU and at West Virginia in the regular season finale. Getting a “blue blood” program that will likely be favored in all 12 games is quite enticing and that’s why I made one of my biggest futures bets on the Sooners at 25/1.
2. Washington (40/1 at CG Technology)
The Huskies are one of the most experienced teams in the country with 17 returning starters and have a great 1-2 combo in QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin who are both 3-year starters already. Washington signed their best recruiting class in the Chris Petersen era and the schedule is manageable as the Huskies are likely to be favored in 11 games this year. The opener vs Auburn (in Atlanta) will see the Huskies as likely FG underdogs and in Pac-12 play, the toughest games will be road trips to Utah, Oregon and a home game vs Stanford. We have an elite coach, a Top 10 team in terms of experience that should be a clear favorite in the Pac-12.
3. Miami, FL (40/1 at West Gate)
Miami started last season 10-0 and were ranked No. 2 in the polls, but would go on to lose their last three games of the season. However, the Hurricanes were playing without three of their top offensive weapons in RB Mark Walton, TE Christopher Herndon and WR Ahmmon Richards down the stretch. This year the Hurricanes welcome back 14 starters and should have one of the best defenses in the country (particularly at LB). The schedule is very manageable as the Canes have two coin flip games, the first in the opener vs LSU (in Arlington, TX) and a road game at Virginia Tech. Otherwise, the Hurricanes will be favored in their other 10 games and likely all by a TD or more.
4. Michigan State (60/1 at West Gate)
Last year the Spartans were coming off a 3-9 season and were one of the least experienced teams in the country. However, head coach Mark Dantonio again worked his magic and Michigan State went 10-3. Now a year later, Michigan State is one of the most experienced teams in the country with 19 returning starters (most of any team with a winning record last season). Michigan State returns their QB Brian Lewerke, RB L.J. Scott and four starting offensive lineman. Michigan State also gets both Ohio State and Michigan at home this year and will be favored in at least 10 games. A year after the Big Ten got shut out of the CFB Playoff, that is unlikely to happen again and the Spartans could be a surprise winner.
5. Wisconsin (30/1 at West Gate)
The Badgers are coming off one of the best seasons in school history and this year the Badgers bring back their starting QB Alex Hornibrook, a Heisman contender at RB in Jonathan Taylor who rushed for an FBS freshman record 1,977 yards and all five starters on the offensive line. The schedule is much more difficult than last year where the Badgers were favored in all 12 regular season games. This year the Badgers will most likely be favored in 10 games with road trips to Michigan (+4) and Penn State (+7) seeing them in the underdog role. Still, the Badgers are the clear-cut favorite in the Big Ten West which likely means they are one win away in the Big Ten Championship game from making the CFB Playoffs.
Florida (100/1 at West Gate)
The Gators made a terrific hire in bringing in former O.C. Dan Mullen who did a great job at Mississippi St and he inherits an experienced team with 19 returning starters. Florida could be favored in at least 8 games this year and should start the season 3-0. They get the other two SEC East dark horses Missouri and South Carolina at home (UF likely favored by a FG in both) which means the Gators are just one upset away over favored Georgia from winning the SEC East for the third time in four seasons.
Arizona (150/1 at William Hill)
The Wildcats are not going to win the National Championship this season. However, the Wildcats are very experienced with 16 returning starters including a Heisman contender at QB in Khalil Tate who averaged 319 total ypg in the final 9 games of the season. I like the Kevin Sumlin hire and remember Sumlin was 11-2 his first season at Texas A&M. Finally, the Pac-12 South is wide open this year and Arizona avoids both Washington and Stanford (two best teams in the Pac-12) while they get to host USC. If they get to the Pac-12 title game, then we can possibly look to hedge this ticket.