Let's just get this out of the way right now: Alabama is the best bet to win the national championship and will remain so until further notice. While other programs spend their seasons trying to prove themselves as the best team in college football, Alabama has to be proven as not the best team in the land.
As such, Alabama has installed the Tide as the favorite to win college football's 2018 national championship, at 7-to-4 odds. The sports book likes Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State to round out the top four.
If we've established that Alabama is the best bet, who offers the best value?
Wisconsin at 30-to-1 and Stanford and Notre Dame at 50-to-1 offer intriguing value and all are extremely good bets to win at least nine games, but all have proven to beat at good-not-great levels during their peak years. The same goes for Michigan State at 60-to-1.
Michigan is intriguing at 12-to-1 if Shea Patterson receives NCAA approval to play this fall, but that's still an unknown at this point. I don't expect a total drop off from Penn State, but it's an Everest-sized order to go from 11-2 to 14-1 or 15-0 while losing Joe Moorhead, Josh Gattis, Saquon Barkley and Mike Geisicki.
Florida State (25-to-1) and Texas (30-to-1) are intriguing in the Hey, they've got all that talent and maybe they can put it together? standpoint, but the last team to go from seven wins to national champions was Ohio State in 2002.
This leads one to zero in on Washington (20-to-1) and Auburn (25-to-1)... who happen to play each other in the opener in Atlanta. Chris Petersen with a senior quarterback? Sign me up. Gus Malzahn with a second year to work with Jarrett Stidham? Sign me up as well.
And yet one will put the other between a rock and a hard place on by midnight on Sept. 1. Given that the Playoff committee has established that 1-loss teams are preferred over their 2-loss counterparts, the loser the Auburn-Washington opener more than likely has to go undefeated through eight SEC games plus likely a rematch with Georgia in the SEC title game (and, by the way, Auburn visits Georgia and Alabama this fall) or go unbeaten through 10 Pac-12 games -- which has never happened since the Pac-12 split into divisions in 2011.
So the question boils down to who wins that opener between the Tigers and Dawgs. Which makes picking long shots such a tough job, and makes college football such a fun sport.
I'll go with Washington.