Which team does ESPN think is the best bet to win the national title this year?
According to ESPN’s Seth Walder, who cites the FPI statistic the publication uses to predict college football results, it’s Ohio State – not Alabama – that should be the favorite to win the national title in 2017.
Ohio State is slated as a “field goal” favorite over Alabama on a neutral field, according to ESPN.
Well – two reasons. Here’s more:
First, the Buckeyes are bringing back more starters (15) from last season’s playoff team than Alabama (11), and that’s a significant difference. In fact, though Ohio State finished fourth in FPI last season, the 15 starters returning are more than what any of the three teams that were ahead of the Buckeyes in 2016 bring back.
…the Buckeyes have the 52nd-hardest schedule in the FBS, compared to Alabama’s 11th-toughest slate. That’s no surprise given that Alabama plays in the SEC, which has the highest average team FPI of all conferences, while the Big Ten has the fifth-highest average team FPI.
In short, they bring back more experience and have an easier schedule.
ESPN believes that Ohio State, Alabama, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have the best chances of finishing the regular season undefeated.
College football season starts on August 26.