College Football National Championship odds: Deion Sanders, Colorado

College football season is still nearly six months away, but we’ve already seen a handful of teams draw significant interest in the national championship market. By now, you know the names well: LSU (14/1), Georgia (+280), and Alabama (+500) lead the way in bet count at Caesars as of last week, with Michigan (12/1) and Ohio State (+650) rounding out the top five.

Checking in with the sixth-most bets? Colorado, which lost more games last season (11) than those other five teams combined (9) and has won just one national title in its 121-year history. Fittingly, that’s how many games this team won last season, too.

Call it the “Primetime Effect,” but bettors are backing the Buffs in a big way at their preseason price of 200/1 to win the College Football Playoff — which, spoiler alert, simply isn’t going to happen.

Since 2001, the biggest long shot to win it all is 2010 Auburn (50/1), and you’d be hard-pressed to find a 200/1 title winner across the history of North American professional sports.

Alas, bettors have boarded the hype train in Boulder in droves. And they’re likely headed for an early derailment.

It’s hard to overstate just how bad Colorado was last season. Of the team’s 11 losses, 10 of them came by at least 23 points, and its one win came in overtime against lowly California (4-8). The Buffaloes ranked 125th out of 131 teams in scoring offense (15.4 ppg) and dead last in scoring defense (44.5), and their average scoring margin (-29.1) was a full touchdown worse than any other team in the country.

It’s no exaggeration to say this was the absolute worst team in college football just one year ago. So why are bettors expecting a national title run in 2023?

Two words: Coach Prime.

Deion Sanders has earned a reputation as a miracle worker after his three-year stint at FCS Jackson State, where he dazzled as a recruiter — highlighted by the commitment of Travis Hunter, the No. 1 overall prospect in 2022 — and boasted a 27-6 record with the school’s first-ever undefeated regular season last year. All of that made him a particularly compelling candidate for Colorado, which committed nearly $30 million to lure Sanders into his first FBS coaching stint.

Coach Deion Sanders talks with Travis Hunter
Jackson State University via Get

Hunter followed Sanders out west, as did standout quarterback (and coach’s son) Shedeur Sanders — who, unsurprisingly, is already drawing Heisman Trophy hype from the same folks who believe the Buffaloes are title contenders. Both bets are plainly misguided at this stage, given that Colorado has finished with a winning record just one across its last 16 full seasons.

To be fair, we’ve seen massive long shots make some noise in recent years. Look no further than last season, when Tennessee and TCU were both dealing as high as 200/1 before the season ahead of legitimate runs at the national title. Yet those two won a combined 12 games in 2021 — more than Colorado has won in the last three seasons combined — and, crucially, neither team actually finished the job amid the dominance of two-time champion Georgia.

Betting on College Football?

Head coach Deion Sanders speaks with members of the press
Head coach Deion Sanders speaks with members of the press
Getty Images

Do we really think the Buffaloes are ready to compete with the big boys? With over 25 transfers and more than a dozen incoming recruits, Colorado will be turning over nearly half its roster — a good sign for improvement but a tough break for title aspirations in a sport where continuity is king. The Buffs have just five returning starters on defense, and their offensive line still isn’t ready to compete with the top programs in the Pac-12, let alone the entire country.

Make no mistake: the future is bright in Boulder, especially after scoring one of the best recruiting classes in school history. Just don’t expect it to net a national title in Year 1, and don’t waste your money chasing one.