With confetti still raining down on the field at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., following Clemson’s 44-16 demolition of Alabama in the College Football Playoff title game, I asked Tigers wide receiver Justyn Ross about Clemson’s chances to repeat.
“Until someone beats us,” Ross said. “We’re the team to beat.”
Ross is right. Clemson is the favorite to win the 2019 national title, according to the Westgate Superbook.
Hours before kickoff against Clemson, Alabama actually was listed in the opening odds as the favorite for next year’s title. But after Clemson’s dominating win, the Tigers – and not Alabama – had become the odds-on favorites to win the 2019 title.
Clemson is currently a 9-to-5 favorite to win the 2019 national title, slightly ahead of Alabama at 5-to-2.
Clemson is not only the favorite to repeat as national champions, but also a prohibitive favorite to win a fifth consecutive ACC title.
All week, we will feature the national title odds for each of the Power 5 conferences and the top non-Power 5 teams along with the 2019 power ratings from Collin Wilson of the Action Network.
Coming Tuesday: the SEC.
Odds to win 2019 national title via Westgate Superbook @LVSuperbook for each ACC school (including Notre Dame):
Virginia Tech 100/1
Florida State 100/1
NC State 500/1
Boston College 500/1
Georgia Tech 1,000/1
Wake Forest 2,000/1
North Carolina 2,000/1
Notre Dame 30/1
Power ratings entering 2019 for each ACC school (including Notre Dame) via Collin Wilson, the Action Network @_Collin1:
23. Florida State
43. Virginia Tech
52. North Carolina
54. NC State
58. Boston College
62. Wake Forest
64. Georgia Tech
9. Notre Dame
The Favorite: Clemson
No surprise here. The Tigers have a stranglehold on the ACC – four ACC titles and counting – and don’t show any signs of letting up. Clemson must replace its entire defensive line, but Coach Dabo Swinney doesn’t expect a drop-off.
“I think we have a lot of guys that y’all don’t have no idea who they are right now,” Swinney said the morning after beating Alabama in the 2018 title game. “But this time next year everybody is going to know who they are.”
But there are two Tigers everyone knows: quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne. As a freshman, Lawrence guided Clemson to college football’s first 15-0 record in modern history and Etienne had 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Dark Horse: Syracuse
The Orange are listed as only the fifth-best national title choice from the ACC at 200-to-1, but Syracuse – unlike the rest of the ACC – has shown it can compete with Clemson. Last year, Syracuse nearly won at Clemson and in 2017, stunned Clemson in the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse should breeze through its non-conference slate with games at Liberty and Maryland and home vs. Western Michigan and Holy Cross.
The Orange must replace quarterback Eric Dungey, with Tommy DeVito expected to get the nod. Because of Syracuse’s emphasis on its rushing game, that might not be a tough transition. In Dino Babers’ first year with Syracuse in 2016, the Orange averaged only 119 yards per game on the ground. Last year, the Orange averaged more than 200 yards rushing per game.
With Babers, the Orange are definitely trending in the right direction. After only eight victories the first two years, Syracuse won 10 games last season for the first time since 2001, capped with a 34-18 win against West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl.
We’ll know early if Syracuse is a legit contender when defending national champion Clemson visits on Sept. 24. It will be Clemson’s first trip back to the Dome since the Orange stunned Clemson 27-24 in 2017.
Best Value: Clemson
Based on Collin Wilson’s power ratings, Florida State would offer the best value at 100-to-1. Wilson has the Seminoles as the nation’s 23rd-best team, but that was before the dismissal of starting quarterback Deondre Francois.
Even if Francois was still at FSU, I would have gone with Clemson as the best value. True, there’s not much value in a team that’s the overall favorite and is listed as less than a 2-to-1 favorite. But that’s a combination of how dominant Clemson has been and how much of a drop-off there is between Clemson and the ACC’s next best team, whomever that ends up being.
In the past four years, Clemson is 32-2 in ACC regular season games with four straight ACC titles, so it’s basically a given that the Tigers will make their fifth consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff. It’s never easy to repeat, but I really like Clemson’s chances with the offensive talents of Lawrence, Etienne and Ross and the defensive depth Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables has established.