With reigning Heisman Trophy-winner and quarterback Jameis Winston under center, the Florida State Seminoles were named the No. 1 team in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll Thursday, and odds makers put them in a dead heat to repeat as national champions with Alabama right beside.
The Seminoles received 56 out of the 62 first place votes, with the Crimson Tide up next at No. 2, Oklahoma at No. 3, Oregon at No. 4 and national championship runner-up Auburn rounding out the top 5. The national title odds shook out the same way.
Based off odds compiled by Bovada.lv, Florida State and Alabama are 11/2 favorites to claim the national title. The Tide had won two straight national championships and were in line to capture a third before losing to Auburn off a miraculous, last-second 109 field-goal return in their final regular season game last year. Still head coach Nick Saban and the Tide re-upped along the recruiting trail, and once again claimed the nation’s top recruiting class, according to Rivals.
The Seminoles are seeking their first run of back-to-back titles in the program’s history, and their success largely depends on whether Winston has matured in the offseason. Over the last two years the 20-year-old dual-sport star has avoided sexual assault charges, was cited for shoplifting crab legs in April and a report surfaced earlier this week that he and a teammate were detained at gunpoint and handcuffed by police for carrying a pellet gun near the FSU campus in 2012, according to USA Today.
Up next are Pac-12 titans Oregon at 7/1 and winners of four of the last five Big 12 title games Oklahoma at 9/1. Like Florida State, the Ducks bring back their top passer Marcus Mariota, who threw for 3,665 yards and 41 touchdowns to four interceptions and rushed for another 715 yards and nine scores a season ago.
The Sooners claimed three first-place votes in the first poll of the college football season, the only team remotely close to Florida State. They ended the 2013-14 season with a 45-31 Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama behind four passing touchdowns from quarterback Trevor Knight. Now a sophomore, Knight is unlikely to surprise any Big 12 defense this upcoming season, but Oklahoma also brings back nine defensive starters who accounted for seven sacks in the Sugar Bowl win, USA Today reports.
Despite losing top running back Tre Mason to the NFL, Auburn enters the season at 10/1 odds. Second-year head coach Guz Malzahn and the Tigers were only 13 seconds away from toppling the Seminoles in last year’s title game, but Malzahn is focused on balancing the offense and solidifying the defense with more depth, according to AL.com.
Odds to win 2014-15 FBS Championship (Full List at Bovada.lv)
Florida State 11/2
Ohio State 12/1
Michigan State 25/1
South Carolina 33/1