College football national title chase: The favorites, the darkhorses, the prediction



15-0, 8-0 SEC

The buzz: The Bulldogs hope to become the first team to win three consecutive national titles since Minnesota (1934-36). They feature a stacked roster with 13 returning starters buoyed by another elite recruiting class and a manageable schedule. Much of the team’s success will be judged on how smooth a transition it is at quarterback from Stetson Bennett IV to Carson Beck. The defense should once again be one of the best in the country.

They said it: “Coming off two national championships, we are trying to stay hungry and be the best we can be every single day. We’ve been doing a pretty good job of that and we just have to keep it going throughout fall camp and the end of the season.” — Georgia tight end Brock Bowers.


13-1, 9-0 Big Ten

The buzz: Jim Harbaugh has turned things around in Ann Arbor, with the Wolverines winning 25 games, including back-to-back Big Ten titles for the first time since 2003-04 and consecutive appearances in the College Football Playoff. The return of QB J.J. McCarthy and RB Blake Corum gives the offense plenty to build on. The defense should be one of the most physical units in the conference, with linebackers Junior Colson and Michael Barrett.

They said it: “We have a team that is very special right now with a lot of guys coming back. J.J. has another year under his belt. Up front, we’re great. Teamwise, we’re great and we’ve been working our butts off this summer.” — Corum.


11-2, 6-2 SEC

The buzz: Some believe the Crimson Tide have lost a step, especially coming off a season in which they missed the Playoff semis for the second time in the past four seasons. Turnover on the roster and coaching staff may have finally caught up with Nick Saban, who had to replace both coordinators and his starting quarterback. Whoever replaces Bryce Young will have a massive shadow to come out of with a young roster.

They said it: “I’m always looking for a better way, and always looking at what can we do to be better and that’s what we continue to try to focus on in the future and that’s a challenge that we have with every team and this team will be no different.” — Saban.

Ohio State

11-2, 8-1 Big Ten

The buzz: Only Alabama (62), Georgia (60) and Clemson (60) have won more games than the Buckeyes (55) during the past five seasons. Still, losses to Michigan in back-to-back seasons have dampened their recent outlook. The offense returns playmakers Marvin Harrison Jr. and TreVeyon Henderson, but replacing quarterback C.J. Stroud will be OSU’s most significant offseason move. The defense needs to continue to show the improvement it exhibited from 2021-22 if Ohio State hopes to upend rival Michigan in the conference.

They said it: “We’ve been working hard this offseason to make sure that doesn’t happen again [losses to Michigan, Georgia], that in every game, no matter who we’re playing, we understand that it can come down to a couple plays.” — Ohio State coach Ryan Day.



10-4, 6-2 SEC

The buzz: Brian Kelly’s first season in Baton Rouge was a boon, with the Tigers capturing their first division crown since 2019. With a roster buoyed by the transfer portal, LSU anaged to upset Alabama and claim a spot in the SEC Championship. An experienced offense is led by quarterback Jayden Daniels and playmakers Malik Nabers and Kyren Lacy. The defense benefits from the emergence of All-American linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. and a front line that’s fast and physical.

They said it: “It’s just been fun seeing Coach Kelly enjoy his time at LSU because if your head coach is not enjoying it, then the players are going to look at it and not enjoy it also. So he is enjoying his time here. He is enjoying coaching us, and we enjoy being around him.” — Daniels.


11-3, 8-1 Pac-12

The buzz: The Trojans return one of the most talented offenses in the nation, led by Heisman Trophy quarterback Caleb Williams. Coach Lincoln Riley has surrounded Williams with talented playmakers in receiver Dorian Singer and running back MarShawn Lloyd. The defense has been Riley’s Achilles’ heel since his time at Oklahoma. That was no different last season when USC allowed nearly 30 points per game. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch preaches takeaways, which will be crucial in the back end of a schedule that features Notre Dame (Oct. 14), Utah (Oct. 21), Washington (Nov. 4), Oregon (Nov. 11) and UCLA (Nov. 18).

They said it: “We’ve taken steps to be great at the end of the season. The thing we’ve said within our walls, the day the Pac-12 championship game ended through now, it’s not about the end for us. The longer it goes, the better we get.” — Riley.

Florida State

10-3, 5-3 ACC

The buzz: After several seasons of mediocrity, the Seminoles put together a breakthrough season, winning 10 games for the first time since 2016. They’re back for more, returning 16 starters led by quarterback Jordan Travis (3,214 passing yards, 24 TDs), running back Trey Benson (990 yards) and defensive end Jared Verse (9 sacks). Mike Norvell and his coaching staff added complimentary pieces to the roster via transfers, giving FSU the depth needed to make a serious run at an ACC Championship and a possible spot in the College Football Playoff.

They said it: “Every time I run out in Doak Campbell Stadium, that is a dream come true. I’m so blessed.” — Travis.


A third straight national championship isn’t out of the question for Georgia, which has enough talent and depth in place to make another run at a title. The Bulldogs’ schedule makes for an easy path to the SEC Championship and a shot at history.

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