College football odds: Florida, Michigan, North Carolina among underrated teams entering 2022 season

College football odds: Florida, Michigan, North Carolina among underrated teams entering 2022 season

Preseason practices are underway across the country, Week 0 of the college football season is just three weeks away, and the optimism among fans is seeping in. While there are some familiar favorites among the betting favorites to win the Power Five conferences, many programs across the country enter the 2022 campaign with realistic visions of hoisting league title trophies in the first week of December.

While the group of true national title contenders can feel like an exclusive party, last season was a great example of how conference championships remain up for grabs even in the best conferences. Baylor came off a 2-7 campaign in 2020 to win the Big 12 last season, Michigan erupted as the surprise Big Ten champion and Pittsburgh went from 6-5 to 11-3 to win the ACC.

A preseason gamble on any of the three would have paid off handsomely, but would have required some foresight and a willingness to play a “value” game. For those rubbing a crystal ball trying to identify the likes of this season’s potential conference champions, here are picks from each league to ponder as the start of the season approaches.

The championship odds below are provided by Caesars Sportsbook.

Odds to win the ACC Championship: +2000

2021 was supposed to be the year for the Tar Heels in coach Mack Brown’s third season, but the Tar Heels faltered with a 6-7 record. Now that everyone is off the scent, it’s time for UNC to strike back. In the ACC Coastal Division, which is notoriously wild, UNC is very capable of coming out of the pile to appear in the league title game in the final season before the ACC eliminated divisions.

Even though quarterback Sam Howell is gone, former 247Sports five-star prospect Drake May should be able to step in as a redshirt freshman and get the offense going. Hiring Gene Chizik as defensive coordinator feels like a roll of the dice considering he’s been out of coaching since 2016. But UNC was No. 105 in the nation in scoring defense last season and should improve under Chizik’s watch . With a big-time prospect at quarterback and three straight recruiting classes ranked in the top 15 nationally by the 247Sports Composite, this team has enough talent to challenge Clemson for the ACC title.

Big Ten: Michigan

Odds to win the Big Ten Championship: +750

Ohio State is such a huge favorite to win the Big Ten that you can be convinced to find “value” in several teams, including defending champion Michigan at +750. Do we really think there is anyone else in the conference who can beat the Buckeyes? Penn State may have an outside chance since the Nittany Lions get Ohio State at home, but the Wolverines are the best alternative to the Buckeyes in this card.

For a team coming off a CFP appearance and an epic win over Ohio State, that’s a solid number. Michigan will likely need to win at Ohio State for the first time since 2000 to accomplish that, but that seems more likely now after the way the Wolverines imposed their will in last year’s game. The defense has a ton to replace, including its coordinator, but if the offense can become a little more explosive, then the Wolverines have a chance to repeat.

Big 12: Baylor

Odds to win the Big 12 Championship: +650

The Bears are the defending Big 12 champions, but are still seeded fourth behind Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State on the Big 12 betting map entering the 2022 season. Are there any questions to answer at the skill positions? Absolutely, but compared to the rest of college football, the Big 12 isn’t the high-scoring, offense-only fireworks of yesteryear.

Trench play matters, and that’s where this Baylor team is built to shine. With a veteran offensive line and defensive front seven ranked No. 4 in the country by CBS Sports, the Bears will be a brutally tough opponent, fully capable of defending their conference title. Given how bold Dave Aranda was in naming Blake Shapen at quarterback over veteran Gary Bohannon, there’s also reason to believe the passing offense will improve even amid the questions at receiver.

Odds to Win Pac-12 Championship: +1600

With a schedule that ranks as one of the easiest in the league and an offensive mind now in charge of the program in Kalen DeBoer, the Huskies should quickly return to relevance after last season’s 4-8 debacle. Simply having a pulse on offense will return this team to respectability, as there remains enough defensive talent for Washington to remain solid on that side of the ball.

With USC and Utah missing from the schedule, road games at UCLA and Oregon are the only significant roadblocks in league play for a program that is still the last from the Pac-12 to reach the College Football Playoff. There isn’t anyone in the Pac-12 that a Washington team with a competent offense can’t beat on any given Saturday in 2022.

Odds to Win the SEC Championship: +5000

Is it likely? Of course not. But that’s a crazy number for a program that struggled back then with No. 1 Alabama down to the wire less than a year ago. The Gators are also just two seasons removed from making the SEC Championship Game, which resulted in another narrow loss to the Crimson Tide. With a potentially elite quarterback in Anthony Richardson and a defense with nowhere to go but under a new staff, the Gators should start the season in the pack of SEC East schools chasing Georgia.

The midseason stretch of games against LSU, Georgia and Texas A&M is tough, but if the Gators can win two of the three — an upset with Georgia being the clincher — then they could sneak into the hunt for SEC East. If nothing else, it would give people who have a +5000 bet in Florida the chance to cash out with a nice payday.

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