College Football Week 1 Sleeper Picks

Top Betting Sleepers for the 2016-17 College Football Championship

Written by on May 17, 2016

In this early look at the 2016-17 College Football Championship odds, we will be focusing on a highlight of the top sleeper NCAA Football betting picks to consider in the race for the coveted CFP National Championship crown. I mean, if English Premier League’s Leicester City was able to win the EPL title despite having 5000-1 odds, the teams listed below should be more than capable of pulling the same feat, right?

Top Betting Sleepers for the 2016-17 College Football Championship


In his first year at his Alma Mater, Jim Harbaugh exceeded expectations in a big way, and there’s little reason to think that he won’t be able to take the Wolverines an elite level in his second year. For starters, the Harbaugh-coached teams—Stanford, 49ers and Michigan—have all gone OVER their regular-season win totals in all but one (his last with the Niners), with constant improvement being a common theme for these teams. Then, as per his venerated reputation, Harbaugh not only knows how to coach, but he is very good at recruiting solid players just in the same way he often excels at turning ashy teams into gold. And after we saw what he did at Ann Arbor with very little talent, you can imagine what he will do after his solid media-frenzied recruitment in the offseason. The starting QB position is still up in the air, so it’s hard to have a ceiling so high for this team just yet, but don’t be shocked if the Wolverines take another huge step forward in 2016. This should be especially encouraged by the fact that Michigan State is likely to take a step back in the absence of QB Connor Cook, which opens a huge door for a hostile takeover in the Big Ten—and no team is better-fitting for such than the surging Harbaugh-led Michigan.


The Vols have had the look of a top sleeper in the SEC over the past three-or-so years, and the upcoming season looks no different—with good reasons. Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones went 5-7 in his first year at Knoxville in 2013, but his rebuilding project saw him increase that total to 7 wins in 2014, and then 9 wins in 2015. If this trend of constant improvement (by two wins each year) stays true, then the Vols could be a real title-contender in the 2016-17 season. This should be particularly possible, owing to the fact that Tennessee brings back a very talented and experienced squad, led by dual-threat QB Joshua Dobbs and stud running back Jalen Hurd on offense, who will be part of 18 starters returning from last year (9 in the offense, 9 in the defense). Add that to the defensive improvements expected in the team after the Vols brought in new coordinator Bob Shoop to shore up the defense, along with the fact that the SEC has been playing arguably the best football in the nation (as was evidenced by Alabama’s title-winning feat last year); you’d be hard-done to find a better SEC sleeper than Tennessee to make a run for the national title.


Okay, maybe the Noles aren’t what we’d typically call a sleeper. This is a team that went undefeated in the ACC in two straight years (2013 and 2014) and won the National title in the 2013-14 season, followed by an audacious appearance in the new college football playoff system that was introduced in the 2014-15 season. And even when the Seminoles were expected to have a major regression in their rebuilding 2015-16 season, they won a sterling 10 games. The problem, however, is that last year’s National Championship Game finalists, the Clemson Tigers, are now considered as the class of the conference, meaning everyone else is simply a ‘longshot’ in the NCAA Football odds to win the 2016-17 ACC title. Betting-wise, that isn’t a bad thing, it simply means other good teams get better odds, and that’s where the Noles and their solid price come in as our sleeper. Besides establishing themselves as a perennial football powerhouse over the last couple of years, the Seminoles bring back a solid offense that is led by Heisman Trophy hotshot Dalvin Cook, a running back that proved more than capable of carrying the team on his back. Then, of course, we have the likes of standout left tackle Roderick Johnson to help in the O-line and an intact defense that ranked among the best in the ACC last years. These solid pieces will almost-definitely make work easier for whoever wins the QB job in FSU. Combine that with the friendly schedule for FSU in the upcoming season, including playing Clemson in Florida, the Noles could easily be among the teams with a flawless record heading into the 2016-17 bowl games, hence giving them a solid chance to compete for the College Football Championship.


The Pac-12 Conference has been silently challenging for nation’s top honors as the best conference, and looking at its performance last season, you can’t help but feel that this conference isn’t that far off the top. Oregon and California ruled the conversations for the most part, but the Huskies were the team that impressed me most. Since former Boise State Coach Chris Peterson took over as the head coach in Washington two years ago, the Huskies have been on constant ascendancy. Improving to seven wins last year may not look like much, but this is a team that was in shambles in the years before that. Not to forget, the Huskies had four losses of less than 10 points last year, including narrow losses to usual powerhouses like Boise State, Oregon and California. If this Washington can build on the motivation of last season’s positives, the team will be due for a big season. The potential of the lethal backfield tandem in quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin is unquestionable, while Washington’s defense returns eight key starters from last year, giving Peterson a big head-start in what could turn out to be a really big year for this full-of-potential Washington team.


The Cardinals have the look of staying solid above most teams in the ACC, as they will be returning with pretty much every key member from last year’s already-good squad. This will, of course, be led by arguably the best linebacker duo in the ACC in Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey, and the dynamic Lamar Jackson at QB, who led the Cards to 6 wins in their last 7 games after settling on the main role as the team’s undisputed signal-caller. And to further bolster the squad, the U of L added a number of high-potential players in the offseason, which guarantees more depth, especially in the defense that lost three starters. With these talented players, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Louisville came rose to the top of the ACC that looks to be on the verge of a major shake-up in the upcoming season.
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