Early 2020 National Championship Contenders

Early 2020 National Championship Contenders

I thought that Clemson would win the 2019 national championship, but I have to admit that I did not foresee the beating that the Tigers would inflict on Alabama. The prediction in this column was Clemson 34, Alabama 31, but the Tigers ended up rolling to a 44-16 victory. The domination that Alabama and Clemson showed over the rest of the college football world (as well as the fact that both schools will bring back their elite quarterbacks) explains why they are the top two contenders for the 2020 national championship, at least according to the sports books. There are other contenders, though, and eventually the hammerlock that these two teams have on the College Football Playoff will slip. Let’s take a look at the top contenders for next year’s title as you consider NCAAF betting on 2020 National Championship futures.

Early 2020 National Championship Contenders

  • Clemson Tigers                                                                                            +180
  • Alabama Crimson Tide                                                                                +250
  • Ohio State Buckeyes, Georgia Bulldogs                                                   +1200
  • Michigan Wolverines                                                                                    +1400
  • Oklahoma Sooners                                                                                       +1500
  • Texas Longhorns                                                                                         +2000
  • Nebraska Cornhuskers, Florida Gators, Washington Huskies,
  • Notre Dame Fighting Irish                                                                           +2500
  • Oregon                                                                                                           +3000

Clemson returns Trevor Lawrence and wideout Justyn Ross (the one making all those spectacular catches against Alabama), both true freshmen this year. They will lose much of their elite defensive line, so rebuilding that unit has to be the top priority for Dabo Sweeney’s staff. However, the recruiting pipeline that Swinney has put in place — which color analyst Kirk Herbstreit kept mentioning as part of a unique culture that Swinney has established at Clemson, the combination of winning and fun that many players like — should keep Clemson stocked with blue-chip players.

Alabama will also return a stellar quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, and they will also come back with the hunger that fueled Clemson’s run this year, with the memory of that embarrassment on national television burning brightly. Nick Saban has some questions to answer as far as his staff — and the turnover that he faces every year does bring stability questions as well. But if Tua returns for another season, Alabama’s similarly stout recruiting should have them contending again at the end.

Notre Dame has slid way down the odds chart for a team that made the College Football Playoff as the nation’s third-ranked team. However, the 30-3 beating that Clemson gave them has a lot to do with that. Ian Book, who started nine games for the Irish this season at quarterback, returns for 2019, with blue-chip prospect Phil Jurkovec pushing him on the depth chart.

Who will Notre Dame start?

A lot of that has to do with what happens in the spring. It would be foolish to rule Book out simply because of the national semifinal, because Clemson’s pass rush was brutal and would have made just about any quarterback look ineffective. The transfer of Brandon Wimbush means that the coaching staff will have to choose between these two.

An intriguing team on this list is the Texas Longhorns, who beat Georgia to make a statement in the Sugar Bowl. One could make the argument that Georgia was less than interested in this game after falling to Alabama in the SEC Championship and missing out on the College Football Playoff. However, the Texas defense shut Georgia down to just a touchdown until the Bulldogs got desperate in the fourth quarter, and the Longhorns were able to move the ball easily against a Georgia defense that had been stout all year long. If quarterback Sam Ehlinger returns, coach Tom Herman’s upward trend in Austin should continue. Can the Longhorns win the Big 12? Can they take down the nation’s top teams should they make the CFP? If you’re looking for a dark horse, this is one to consider.