The college football season is still a month away, but it’s fun to predict which teams will end up in the next College Football Playoff. While the usual suspects are being trotted out as likely qualifiers – Ohio State, USC, Alabama and so on – but what if someone else could actually qualify for the four-team tournament? Let’s look at some of the dark horse candidates to crash the college football betting party.
Let’s Take an Insiders Look at the Top NCAA Football Playoff Odds Dark Horses
This team is the darkest of the dark horses, hailing from the MAC. The schedule is just about the only thing favoring Western Michigan in its quest for glory. Head coach P.J. Fleck has the team on the rise, and they are definite favorites to win the conference if they play up to their ceiling. But how could a MAC schedule qualify Western Michigan for the College Football Playoff ahead of Power 5 conference teams?
Their non conference schedule features Ohio State and Michigan State – and they play the Buckeyes on the road. If Western Michigan runs the table and wins at Ohio State and beats Michigan State at home, and finishes with a 12-0 record that includes victories over two B1G teams, it’s going to be hard to deny them a shot. That would be an impressive resume – and it could theoretically occur.
Memphis and Cincinnati are two tough teams in the American, but if Central Florida can get by them (and Houston) to win the conference, its schedule could also propel the team into the playoffs. The Knights did finish 12-1 in 2013, so an undefeated record is not out of the question. To do this, they would have to beat South Carolina and Stanford on the road. With three tough opponents in the conference slate (Cincinnati Houston and East Carolina) and a potential matchup with Memphis in the title game, if they can emerge unbeaten, they would have a strong case as well.
Over the past three years, the Aggies are 30-11, and they are in the Mountain West, which has a little more credibility than some of the other non-Power 5 conferences. They sent TCU into the Big 12, and they still have Boise State. This means that the Mountain West gets some national notice. If Utah State can run the table and finish 12-0, they will have beaten Utah, BYU and Washington – as well as Boise State.
Brigham Young already has one national championship on its resume, although they were not an independent team then. Power Five conference teams generally view the Cougars as a Power Five non conference foe, so the team would have credibility in front of the playoff committee. Because the Cougars do not have to play a conference slate, they can put together an impressive schedule. In 2015, the Cougars take on Utah State, Missouri, Cincinnati, UCLA, Boise State, Michigan and Nebraska. A 12-0 record would include seven quality wins from those teams. If you compare those with the seven best wins of some of the Power Five conference champs, BYU will have a more impressive resume. BYU has its games on a national broadcast thanks to ESPN, and the road games (Michigan, UCLA, Nebraska, Utah State and San Jose State) should be widely available on television as well. This will give the Cougars national visibility – always a bonus with the committee.