An early look at the college football national champion contenders

What school could come out on top of the FBS this coming January?

The College Football Playoff National Championship trophy.
The quest to hoist the top prize in college football has begun again
(Image credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Fall is nearly here, ushering in the return of a uniquely American tradition: college football. Week 1 of the NCAA Division I football season has just passed. There are still many months and hundreds of games to go until the College Football Playoff National Championship this coming January — in addition to continued controversies over conference realignments. Despite it all, though, many sportswriters have still tried to predict how things will turn out. Here are a few teams that experts have picked to win the national championship in 2024:

Georgia Bulldogs

Entering the season No. 1 on the AP Top 25 poll, the University of Georgia is coming off back-to-back national championships, and will look to earn a three-peat. While southern schools have always been dominant in college football, this would cement Georgia as one of the truly elite dynasties of the modern era.

They easily dismantled the University of Tennessee-Martin 48-7 during their first game of the season. Just days after they won their last championship this past January, J. Brady McCullough of the Los Angeles Times declared that the Bulldogs "are not going anywhere." Even winning back-to-back championships "is nearly impossible with a roster full of 18- to 22-year-olds," McCullough opined, yet Georgia managed to pull off the unthinkable. With some of the country's best recruiting and a culture of dominance, Georgia "is poised to be a powerhouse once again," Max Molski wrote for NBC Sports.

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Ohio State Buckeyes

A team that is perpetually at the top of the football world, Ohio State entered the season No. 3 on the AP poll. They dispatched Indiana University 23-3 during their first matchup of the year, and will look to strong-arm themselves into a championship in 2024.

The Buckeyes won the first-ever playoff-style national championship in 2014, but lost to Alabama in 2020. They will look to change their luck this year with a charged-up look. Ohio State "boasts the best receiver room in the country, ensuring the offense remains potent," Shane Jackson opined for SportsBook Review. In addition to their powerhouse offense, the Buckeyes "have made significant improvements on the defensive front, making them a formidable force and serious contenders for the championship," Jackson added, giving OSU a good chance to go far this year.

Alabama Crimson Tide

When the aforementioned southern powerhouse schools are considered, the first one that probably comes to mind is the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide entered the season No. 4 on the AP poll, and this was followed by a dominant 56-7 win over Middle Tennessee in their first game.

Alabama has won three national championships since 2014, and the long-mighty Crimson Tide "just may overpower the college football world in 2023," Steve Silverman wrote for ClutchPoints. Their head coach, Nick Saban, "is going to have [the] pedal pressed all the way down to the floor in an effort to silence all the doubters as well as the 'new' kings of college football," Silverman added, referring to Georgia. However, not everyone feels as confident. Alabama "is replacing two of the first three players selected in the 2023 NFL Draft," David Cobb noted for CBS Sports, and their depth chart "is full of uncertainty and far from a lock" to even make the playoffs, he opined.

USC Trojans

The University of Southern California has turned things around in recent years after a period of stagnation. The Trojans entered the season No. 6 on the AP poll, and made themselves seen with a 66-14 rout of Nevada in their first game of the year.

Led by head coach Lincoln Riley and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams, this team may be "primed to bring the USC football program its first national championship in 19 years," Anthony Riccobono wrote for ClutchPoints. While there's no question that USC has a ways to go to compete with the longstanding FBS powerhouses, the club has actually "received more bets than any other team to win the 2023-2024 national championship at SuperBook," Riccobonno said, citing an ESPN report. Heading into the beginning of the year, "only Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan have better national championship odds at the sportsbook," he added.

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Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.