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2014 College Football Predictions and Free Picks: Early Vegas National Title Sleepers

2014-NCAA-College-Football-Picks-Odds-Free-Picks-and-Predictions2014 College Football Predictions and Free Picks: Early Vegas National Title Sleepers: After deciding college football’s national champions since 1999, the BCS system that has drawn its share of criticism and created its share of controversy is no more. For the first time in history, the college football national championship will be determined by a four-team playoff in 2014-15. By expanding the field, one loss is no longer a death sentence for a team hoping to compete for a championship, and considering a two loss team managed to play for the national title under the BCS system, a two loss team could certainly reach the playoffs. The chances of a surprise team competing for the national title are as good as they have ever been, and with that in mind, here is a closer look at some sleeper teams that could sneak up and win the 2014-15 college football national championship.

The Michigan State Spartans made the leap to the next level last year, winning the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl. The next step is competing for a national title, and although the Spartans lost multiple starters on the offensive line and several playmakers from their elite defense, they still have plenty of talent coming back. In fact, Michigan State’s secondary should be one of the best in the country, and defensive end Shilique Calhoun will head a potent group of pass-rushers. On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Connor Cook will be the X-factor, but with a year of experience under his belt, he could help the Spartans provide enough support for their championship-caliber defense to make a run at a title.

Once quarterback Brett Hundley decided to return to school, the UCLA Bruins became a potentially dangerous team. Hundley is a potential Heisman candidate, and his combination of size and speed makes him one of top dual-threat QBs in the country. He will head an experienced, talented offensive unit. Granted, the defense lost some key contributors, including pass-rusher Anthony Barr, but Hundley and the offense will be doing most of the heavy lifting anyway. The schedule also works out well for the Bruins as they will host Oregon and Stanford after losing to both teams on the road last year.

One bad game against Oklahoma State cost the Baylor Bears a spot in the BCS title game last year, but with quarterback Bryce Petty back to run one of the most potent offenses in the country, the Bears could be right back in the mix for a championship in 2014-15. Petty will welcome back two of his top-four receiving targets, and the backfield is loaded even with the loss of Lache Seastrunk. The defense does lose several starters, but the Bears don’t win games with their defense anyway. With Petty running Art Briles’ high-powered offense, the Bears will a chance to make some noise.

A rash of injuries ruined what was supposed to be a special season for the Georgia Bulldogs a year ago, but even though quarterback Aaron Murray is gone, this team shouldn’t be counted out. For one, the Bulldogs have the best running back in the country in Todd Gurley to head their offense. They also have 10 returning starters on the defensive side of the ball. Perhaps most importantly, Georgia will have a healthy receiving corps for the first time in a year. If the Bulldogs can get serviceable play under center, all the other pieces are in place.

Although the South Carolina Gamecocks lost Jadeveon Clowney and some other excellent defensive players to the NFL, Steve Spurrier has brought in enough recruits to keep the unit stout. Meanwhile, the offense should be more reliable in 2014-15. Mike Davis might be the best running back in the SEC, and South Carolina’s offensive line will be as good as it has been in recent memory. Quarterback Dylan Thompson is a bit of a wild card, but he has looked good in spurts and is blessed with plenty of explosiveness. South Carolina is also fortunate enough to dodge Alabama and LSU during the regular season. With Davis leading the power running attack and another solid defensive unit, the Gamecocks will have a chance to make a run.

Visit BettingOnlineUSA daily for updated 2014-2015 college football betting lines on our NCAA football odds page for all the spreads and totals weekly plus 2014 National Championship futures.

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