CBS Sports named the College Football Playoff dark horse contenders from each conference, plus some longshots, for the 2023 season.
Utilizing odds from Caesars Sportsbook, each team has big odds to do this well but never say never. All of these teams definitely have some potential, but it’s up to the product on the field.
Let’s break down CBS Sports’ dark horse College Football Playoff picks for the coming season.
College Football Playoff dark horse contenders
ACC: NC State
Out goes Devin Leary to Kentucky and in comes Brennan Armstrong from Virginia. The good news with the quarterback change is that Armstrong reunites with Robert Anae, his former offensive coordinator at Virginia. You can chalk this one up to an open ACC, but Clemson and North Carolina might have something to say about that.
Big Ten: Wisconsin
Luke Fickell, enough said. The new head coach of the Badgers might inject enough life back into Wisconsin, the Big Ten West will have to go through Madison again. It’s just a matter of beating Ohio State or Michigan, or even Penn State, from the East. If Wisconsin goes 12-1 let’s say, and wins the Big Ten, there’s probably playoffs in the near future.
Big 12: Texas Tech
Joey McGuire made a big impact on the Red Raiders last season. Everyone wants to pick Texas or Oklahoma bouncing back to win the Big 12. After TCU’s run in 2022, why not Texas Tech? With solid additions in the transfer portal and an excellent recruiting class for the program now, Texas Tech might not be a bad dark horse for the College Football Playoff.
Pac-12: Oregon State
D.J. Uiagalelei transferred out west to resurrect what was once heralded as a potentially great college career. Jonathan Smith pushed all the right buttons so far and this one could get the Beavers over the top. The team won 10 games last year for the first time since 2006. Why not take the extra step?
This is certainly the big-named school that pops out on the dark horse list. Auburn hired Hugh Freeze to turn things around fast. Whether Robby Ashford or Payton Thorne is under center this year, the Tigers might have the right quarterback, but can they become excellent in a hurry? It’ll be tough considering the SEC West is arguably the toughest division in the sport.
Colorado you say? Well Deion Sanders already remade the entire program and roster compared to last season, so why not?
Iowa State and Matt Campbell seemingly are always right there before a breakout. Then it never comes. But Hunter Dekkers is back at quarterback and the offensive line is pretty darn good.
Maybe buy in on some Cyclones stock.
UTSA is the Group of Five team that can make the most noise. The team is arguably the best one remaining after other AAC schools joined the Big 12. A 24-5 record over the last two years is pretty darn good for Jeff Traylor.
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