Favorable situations are rare in the college football futures market. High-vigorish propositions are the norm, making value scarce. Typically the most exploitable offseason offerings are the season win totals props (i.e., Georgia over or under 9.5 wins) widely posted on each team in late summer.
First out of the box, though, are the odds to win next season's BCS title. National championship odds are usually one of the worst futures markets to mine for value, but they do give us some early insight into the oddsmakers' projected 2012 pecking order.
The numbers quoted here are from a top British sports book, and are reflective of the general market. Let's take a look at the kind of value the favorites, contenders and long shots are offering:
LSU Tigers: 4.5 to 1 odds
Alabama Crimson Tide: 5 to 1
USC Trojans: 8 to 1
Oregon Ducks: 10 to 1
Oklahoma Sooners: 12 to 1
Florida State Seminoles: 12 to 1
Georgia Bulldogs: 12 to 1
LSU is the team most likely to disappoint here. The Tigers had a really special mojo last year despite having to overcome quite a bit in the offseason, but that chemistry finally wore out in the title game. At best, it will be very difficult to replicate those elite intangibles next season. At worst, the championship loss is the program's Gettysburg, and in five years LSU fans will look upon the Alabama rematch the way Fresno State fans regard the 2005 USC heartbreaker or Penn State fans think about the 1999 Minnesota debacle.