College football season is a wrap. Even the hangover from a thrilling BCS Championship Game on Monday night should be gone by now. But it’s never too early to get a jump on next season’s odds to win the Football Bowl Series championship – the first under the four-team playoff format.
Not surprisingly, new national champ Florida State – which brings back star QB Jameis Winston – had the shortest odds at 5/2, followed by Oregon and Alabama at 5/1.
However, if you’re looking for a better return on investment, try your luck with these four live long shots.
Auburn Tigers (20/1 to win National Championship)
No, the Tigers aren’t going to be listed at 500/1, as they were on last year’s futures line, but looking at what Auburn brings back and the stunning run it made last season, 20/1 isn’t a bad number.
Given a second year under Gus Malzahn’s system, along with the possible return of stud running back Tre Mason, four of five starters back on the offensive line (maybe all five), and QB Nick Marshall and a good receiving corps returning, Auburn could very well find itself playing big games next January.
Auburn will also no longer have to contend against QBs A.J. McCarron (Alabama), Aaron Murray (Georgia), Zach Mettenberger (LSU), Connor Shaw (South Carolina) or Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M).
UCLA Bruins (20/1)
The Bruins might be under the radar of many fans, but insiders and bettors certainly know better. UCLA finished 10-3 and fell just short of a third straight berth in the Pac-12 title game.
Star quarterback Brett Hundley opted against entering the NFL Draft and will return as a redshirt junior, after a year in which he threw for 3,071 yards and 24 TDs (9 INTs) and led the team in rushing with 748 yards (4.7 ypc) and 11 scores. The Bruins will have almost their entire offense back (junior All-American guard Xavier Su'a-Filo will head to the NFL), and they’ll have several players back on defense.
USC Trojans (50/1)
The Trojans have a boatload of talent returning on both sides of the ball and Steve Sarkisian back on their sideline. Sarkisian, who bolted the Washington head coaching post to take over at Southern Cal, was instrumental to USC’s success during his two stints as an assistant to Pete Carroll.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (60/1)
It might seem laughable, but nobody expected the Fighting Irish in the national title game after the 2012 season, either. That team was led by QB Everett Golson and he’ll be back for the 2014 season, returning from a one-year suspension for academic issues.
The Irish could have seven more players back on offense for a team that won nine games in 2013, including putting the only blemish on Michigan State’s record.
Odds courtesy of LVH Superbook in Las Vegas.