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NCAAF · 4 months ago

Buy or Sell: Alabama to win the National Championship

John David Yonke

John David Yonke

Buy or Sell: Alabama to win the National Championship
Nick Saban is in the odd position where his team is not coming off a College Football Playoff appearance. The Alabama Crimson Tide “disappointed” relative to expectations last season, which feels ridiculous but is nonetheless true after the program has been a staple at the greatest heights of the sport. The Tide have reached six National Championship games since 2015 alone, winning three titles in the process.
Will the Tide return to glory in 2023, or was last year the beginning of a decline? Let’s see what BetMGM says about the situation by examining betting insights in the futures market.
BetMGM College Football Insights: National Championship
Highest Ticket%
  • Michigan 14.0%
  • Alabama 11.5%
  • Ohio State 10.1%
Highest Handle%
  • Georgia 16.0%
  • Michigan 15.7%
  • Alabama 12.6%

The Tide are receiving the second-highest percentage of tickets (11.5%) and third-highest percentage of the handle (12.6%) of any team in the country, so there’s evidently some goodwill among both sharp and casual bettors. They are listed at +500 to win the 2023 National Championship, which places them second behind only the Georgia Bulldogs at +225. 

Let’s inspect the coaching staff and roster deeper to see if this love is justified. 

Both sides of the ball are under new leadership. Tommy Rees was brought in from South Bend to coordinate the offense, while Kevin Steele left Miami after just a single season to head Saban’s defense. Neither coordinator will have a ton of experience to work with as the Tide return just nine starters four on offense and five on defense. 

Rees will coordinate an offense that loses a ton from a year ago, and it all starts at the quarterback position. Losing a player of Bryce Young‘s caliber is never easy let’s face it, he won the 2021 Heisman Trophy and was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. That loss becomes especially tough to swallow when there’s no clear backup plan waiting in the wings, as is the case this offseason. 

The Crimson Tide hopes that healthy competition allows for the fittest survivor to be sharpened by iron. Holdovers Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson did not separate from one another in the spring. Then the waters were further muddied when the staff brought in Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner in the latest portal opening. Buchner is a talented dual-threat and familiar with Rees, but until recently, he had as many pick-six passes as touchdowns.

The skill players will need to step up after losing star running back Jahmyr Gibbs to the NFL. The receiving group disappointed a year ago and will need JUCO transfer Malik Benson to emerge if the staff hopes to raise the room’s ceiling. The offensive line also disappointed in 2022 and will need to improve.

Defensively, Steele is working with a retooled unit that should be good up front, led by Dallas Turner. There were concerns about the secondary, and the staff attempted to address that by signing two impact transfers by the spring deadline. After finishing ninth in EPA in 2022, this should be a good, if not elite, unit. 

The schedule could be worse, as tough games like Texas, LSU, and Tennessee all occur at home. The two most challenging road games come against Texas A&M and Auburn — both in which the Tide will almost certainly be the favorite.

In the end, I’m left with questions on both sides of the ball, and while the coordinator hires were alright, it’s hard to qualify them as slam dunks. The schedule sets up for a potential berth in the College Football Playoff, but this team appears to be a step behind Georgia.

Verdict: Sell