Yesterday, January 16, was the deadline for underclassmen to enter the 2023 NFL Draft. While the second signing day is upcoming on February 1, and there will be more movement via the transfer portal, the deadline is a good inflection point to check in on the top contenders for next season.
FBS Championship Odds @ FanDuel:
(1) Georgia Bulldogs (+250): The Dawgs have won two straight titles, and Kirby Smart is recruiting at the highest level. No reason to expect them to slow down anytime soon. As David Pollack said with a certain SEC West coaching sitting by his side, “They’ve taken hold of college football.”
(2) Alabama Crimson Tide (+450): Don’t think Nick Saban isn’t motivated by Georgia’s two-year run, and they’ve compiled as much talent as any program in the country over the past three to four cycles. The key to returning to the CFP will be replacing 2021 Heisman winner Bryce Young.
Key Players Lost: QB Bryce Young, RB Jahmyr Gibbs, EDGE Will Anderson Jr., CB Brian Branch, S Jodan Battle
(3) Ohio State Buckeyes (+700): Their odds were +500 before C.J. Stroud’s last-minute announcement to declare. OSU goes into the offseason with questions about their defense, but let’s not forget they were likely a field goal away from winning a national title. The talent rivals UGA and ‘Bama.
Key Players Lost: QB C.J. Stroud, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, OT Dawand Jones, OT Paris Johnson Jr., EDGE Zach Harrison
(4) Michigan Wolverines (+1200): Unlike the top three teams, Michigan returns their quarterback J.J. McCarthy, along with two star-running backs. Yesterday’s deadline applied to players, but the Wolverines got great news on Monday when Jim Harbaugh announced he would not be going pro.
Key Players Lost: WR Ronnie Bell, C Olusegun Oluwatimi, EDGE Mike Morris, NT Mazi Smith, CB D.J. Turner
(5) USC Trojans (+1600): Another year in Lincoln Riley’s system led by the best player in college football, Heisman Winner Caleb Williams, makes the Trojans a very dangerous team in 2023. Now, can they find enough defense to emerge as legitimate challengers to the teams at the top?
Key Players Lost: RB Travis Dye, WR Jordan Addison, OG Andrew Vorhees, DT Tuli Tuipulotu, CB Mekhi Blackmon
(5) Clemson Tigers (+1600): It’s a big year for Dabo Swinney and company, as the Tigers have experienced slippage since challenging Alabama as college football’s top program. Is it all D.J. Uiagalelei’s fault? Certainly not, but Clemson has recruited well enough to find their way back to the CFP.
Key Players Lost: TE David Allen, EDGE K.J. Henry, EDGE Myles Murphy, DT Bryan Bresee, LB Trenton Simpson
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