2024 CFB National Championship Opening Lines and Best Bets
Michigan State - 300-to-1
HC Jonathan Smith arrives with his own set of posh luggage in tantalizing second-year QB Aiden Chiles who has established himself as one of the elite 2026 signal callers. The quickest path to a rebuild is through a transcendent quarterback. A former starting QB at Oregon State, HC Smith has a sterling reputation for his ability to develop three-star recruits into NFL caliber players. At 300-to-1, and in the midst of regime change, the Spartans are my deepest longshot for the 2024 Natty.
I love the value we’re getting on the Big-12 contenders, who get a nice boost from the CFP Playoff expansion. I’m prioritizing programs with established cultures, and KU HC Lance Leipold having the good fortune of a returning QB Jalon Daniels and star RB Devin Neal. With a healthy Daniels, Kansas has an excellent shot at winning their new conference. The same goes for B12 newcomer Arizona, as HC Jedd Fisch has the Servite HS combo of Noah Fifita and WR Tetairoa McMillan who will put major stress on Big 12 secondaries with their prolific passing attack. I love these two longshots and think there’s a strong chance we see one of them in the 12-team playoff, which would present potentially lucrative cash-out opportunities.
Wisconsin - 100-to-1
HC Luke Fickell and the Badgers had some growing pains in Year 1 of the Fickell tenure, allowing Iowa to embarrass themselves in the Big Ten Championship Game for the second time in three years. The hope is OC Phil Longo gets more from big-armed Miami transfer QB Tyler Van Dyke than he received from game-manager Tanner Mordecai. TVD has dealt with some injury issues the last two years, but I still believe that he could raise the level of his play, and those around him, in the right circumstance. At 100-to-1 odds, you’re not going to find a better longshot in terms of roster strength and coaching ability than the Badgers.
Texas A&M - 40-to-1
Former DC and Duke HC Mike Elko returns to mercifully end the Jimbo Fisher catastrophe, and that is excellent news for the Aggies faithful. I think the Elko hiring is a solid, logical big picture hire from a coach who single-handedly resurrected Duke in Year 1 with little transfer help. He has a talented blue-chip QB in Connor Weigman that I think is being slept on after his injury forced well-traveled backup Max Johnson into service and torpedoed any chance of A&M contending in the SEC. With a healthy Weigman and a still talented roster despite the customary portal entries, HC Elko could hit the ground running and be a problem in the juiced up 2024 SEC Conference.
Tennessee - 40-to-1
Now we’re getting good, as HC Josh Heupel had to weather a year with mid-card QB Joe Milton before handing the reins to ultra-toolsy five-star QB Nico Iamaleava. Nico dazzles with his long, athletic 6’6/205 frame that reminds me of a more twitchy Trevor Lawrence in terms of structure. Iamaleava has a long way to go in terms of his comfort throwing to all three levels of the field, but the kid has Lamar Jackson caliber athleticism at the position and is being coached by a well-documented offensive genius in HC Heupel. Tennessee also made strides on the defensive side of the ball, which helps balance out the high-octane offensive UT will be putting on the field in a way that wasn’t possible when QB Hendon Hooker was leading the Vols. You could do a lot worse than taking a speculative 40-to-1 here.
Oklahoma - 35-to-1
In 2022 I attended the Elite 11 Final QB camp in Redondo Beach, CA where I came away convinced that Oklahoma QB Jackson Arnold was the best 2026 QB out of everyone I laid eyes on (No Nico or Arch FWIW). I proceeded to assemble every CFF Dynasty/Keeper share I could get my hands on and will ride into 2024 with Arnold as my QB1 for the next two seasons. While he threw a slew of interceptions in his first career start against Arizona in their Bowl game, His command of the offense and confidence in his ability to put the ball where it needed to be was advanced well beyond his experience. I am a firm believer in Arnold and believe he can thrive even in the hyper-competitive SEC.
Notre Dame - 28-to-1
This is more of a value play, as ND has the most attractive odds of all the Blue-Bloods at 28-to-1. Sure the Sam Hartman experiment didn’t pan out quite how the Irish would have liked, but insert former Duke QB Riley Leonard in the starting role and let’s see what he can do with ND’s young, but promising wide receiver corps. Toss in returning OC Mike Denbrock, who also served under HC’s Tyrone Willingham and Brian Kelly and was the catalyst for LSU’s offensive explosion and QB Jayden Daniels’ ascension. Notre Dame’s D under Marcus Freeman will once again be top-flight, so there’s plenty of reason to believe we see ND in the playoff. Not bad for 28-to-1.
No transfer portal movement once again for HC Dabo and company, but for me it’s all about the maturation of QB Cade Klubnik and whether or not he can cut down on the mistakes he made in crucial situations this year. Too many indecisive decisions and a tendency to miss open receivers under duress has cratered the former No.1 QB recruit from the 2022 class to lose some of the luster he had during his prep days. Beast RB Phil Mafah is a player whom I publicly stated is a better runner than 2024 NFL Draft RB Will Shipley in the preseason, which was a bold take at the time and is now pretty much settled science. The secondary replaces CB1 Nate Wiggins and rising young star CB Toriano Pride, but they’re still in good shape on D. With FSU on the come-down following their incredible undefeated run last year, Clemson has a damned good shot at taking the ACC and earning an automatic Playoff bid. All you need is a ticket to the dance, the rest is out of our control.
Ole Miss - 15-to-1
I am an avowed QB Jaxson Dart fanboy, with the fourth-year QB also having the advantage of returning one of the most underrated WRs in the country in former La Tech transfer Tre Harris. With the expectation that HC Lane Kiffin won’t be taking the Alabama job (fingers crossed), Kiffin has once again obtained a war chest of talent from the portal, specifically focusing on bolstering a porous defensive line by picking up mega-transfer IDL Walter Nolen from A&M. RB Quinshon Judkins leaving doesn’t help of course, but all the rumors emerging about that situation is that QJ was a bad culture fit and it was a mutual parting of ways. If Ole Miss can give Dart, Harris and company the kind of stout SEC caliber defense that it appears to be building…then watch out for the Rebels.