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Three College Football Teams That Can Beat Georgia for the National Championship

Written by: Grant Mitchell
Published July 13, 2023
7 min read

The Georgia Bulldogs have been both the unstoppable force and the immovable object in college football during the past two seasons, leading to two national championships and a nearly unblemished record.

UGA is the favorite to win the college football playoff for the third year running at major online sportsbooks, ahead of schools such as Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and others. As the season continues to inch closer, the question remains firm: Can anyone stop Georgia from becoming the first school to win three straight national championships since Minnesota in 1934-36? See our in-depth predictions and odds for this year's national championship.

Here are the three schools that have the best chance to dethrone the Bulldogs in 2023.

NCAAF Teams Beat Georgia National Championship

Alabama

Alabama is a plus-money underdog to even make the college football playoff, which represents some of the greatest value in all college football futures betting markets.

The Crimson Tide are normally a mainstay in the college football playoff but missed out on the opportunity to compete in the four-team field last year. They were passed up in favor of Georgia, Michigan, TCU, and Ohio State, and were handed the fifth seed and a spot in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Kansas State.

Coach Nick Saban, the best coach in the college football landscape, caused a ruckus when it was announced that ‘Bama was not selected for the playoff. Fair or not, in the same way that voter fatigue plays a part in deciding on individual honors, Saban’s antics will keep the Tide at the front of their mind when the playoff field is announced later this season.

As far as on-field play goes, Alabama has a golden opportunity to get back to the national championship. They get to avoid Georgia during the regular season and can afford to lose the SEC Championship to them (if they meet there) and still make the playoff. They also have most of their tough games against Tennessee, LSU, and Texas at home.

‘Bama ranked fourth in points scored and ninth in points allowed in 2022. They lost valuable contributors such as quarterback Bryce Young and edge-rusher Will Anderson Jr. (the first and third picks in the NFL Draft), but as the program is known for, they don’t rebuild, they reload for the next season.

One of Jalen Milroe or Ty Simpson is likely to start the year at QB, although Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner is also vying for the spot. Milroe is the stronger and more senior of the two. He’s a dual-threat quarterback that dominated high school football in Texas (a la Jalen Hurts) and would fit Saban’s traditional ethos of playing hard-nosed, gritty football.

Simpson was the fourth-ranked QB in the class of 2022 and is comfortable running a spread offense from the pocket. Buchner only threw 118 passes in two seasons with the Fighting Irish for six touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Regardless of who starts the season under center, expect Alabama to lean heavily on its deep running back room. The key for this team will be finding chemistry quickly on the defensive side of the football to avoid dropping early-season games. They have enough talent on that side of the football to get to and win the national title, but they also can’t afford more than one regular-season loss.

Michigan

Michigan has often found itself in the shadow of Ohio State in the race for national seeding, Big Ten championships, and general notoriety, but that has changed recently. The Wolverines are 2-0 against the Buckeyes in their last two meetings and have a great chance to improve that to 3-0 this time around. 

Despite the changing tide, OSU is still the favorite to win the conference and is ahead of Michigan in odds to win the national title—but that does not sway us or our positive sentiment for UM. 

For starters, Michigan has more ability at the quarterback position than it has in many of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure in the form of J.J. McCarthy, a sophomore with two years of experience on the field, and that shone in big moments last season. 

McCarthy’s best games of the 2022 season were arguably the two most important games of the year. The first was the regular-season finale against, guess who, Ohio State, where McCarthy threw for 263 yards and racked up four total touchdowns, including passing TDs of 75, 69, and 45 yards.

Then, in the national semifinal against #3 TCU, McCarthy—down his Heisman candidate running back, Blake Corum—went 20-34 and picked up 395 total yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also drove Michigan to 39 second-half points in what became a failed comeback bid in a game that ended 51-45. Those 45 points were the most TCU had given up until that point in the season.

Not only is McCarthy back in 2023, but so too are Corum and fellow running back Donovan Edwards, who together form one of the best one-two punches in the nation. Michigan is also expected to be excellent on the offensive line, whereas arch-rival OSU has questions in that group.

Michigan’s defense also ranked seventh in points allowed at just over 16 per game. That was the beat in the Big Ten and about five points ahead of Ohio State. And while that may seem like a small amount, it is fairly significant for a team that gives up as few points as it does.

Michigan would prefer to turn its big games into defensive battles based on clock control, but it has the offensive potency to shine when needed.

USC

Football is a quarterback’s game, and when a team has the best quarterback in the country—one that has already been compared to Patrick Mahomes—that team will always have a chance to achieve excellence.

Of course, USC is coming off of an improved but still disappointing season. They went 11-3 in 2022 with two losses to Utah, including in the Pac-12 Championship, and then lost a David vs. Goliath showdown against the Tulane Green Wave 46-45 in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. 

With the pain of that loss at the forefront of the Trojans’ minds, they should have their sights set on not only reaching but winning the college football playoff. As alluded to previously, they have reigning Heisman trophy winner Caleb Williams, who will be one of the best QB prospects ever when he becomes draft-eligible next summer. He also gets to work under genius head coach and offensive mind Lincoln Riley, who has manufactured some of the NCAA’s best offenses seemingly every season, including last year’s third-highest-scoring unit.

USC also has tons of playmakers at every position, whether it be a deep running back group, 6-foot-6 five-star tight end Duce Robinson, or Arizona transfer and first-team all-Pac-12 wide receiver Dorian Singer.

The offensive line wasn’t great last year but was rebuffed with the addition of three starters via the transfer portal. 

The Trojans’ defense was a cacophony of a football experience last year. Despite leading the nation in turnover margin, it was awful at getting off the field and gave up far too many scores. That’s why the additions of defensive tackle Bear Alexander (a UGA transfer) and Mason Cobb (an all-Big 12 second-teamer at Oklahoma State in 2022) are crucial. 

Even with the new arrivals, plus the returning talents of All-American safety Calen Bullock and others, the USC defense will need to play above its level of expectation for it to become a legitimate national title contender. But if it can be competitive, Williams and the offense should be able to dismantle anyone in their way. 

Most of USC’s tough regular-season games, including those against Utah, Washington, and UCLA, are at home, which is massively important. They probably can’t afford more than one loss and could basically ensure a spot in the playoff field with an undefeated record.

Riley made the college football playoff in three of five seasons as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners. Can he get USC back to college football’s biggest stage for the first time since the early 2000s? We believe he can. 

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AUTHOR

Grant Mitchell

472 Articles

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.

In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.

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