NCAAF Championship Odds For 2021: Can LSU Do It Again?
By: Travis Pulver
College basketball is not crowning a true champion this year thanks to the Corona Virus. But there is no reason to think (or fear) that a similar fate is going to hit college football. Spring games have been canceled, so we may not know who the stars of tomorrow are going to be.
But we do know a few things.
We know who has key veteran talent coming back and who doesn’t. We know who has recruited well and has promising talent ready to step up. Based on those two things alone, we can come up with some plausible championship scenarios.
Factor in a few coaching changes (and in some cases, the current coach) and roster additions via the transfer portal—and a championship picture materializes.
So, who is going to be at the forefront leading the charge?
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NCAAF Championship Odds: Familiar Faces in Familiar Places
In year’s past, it has often been customary to name the defending champion the team to beat until someone did just that. It hasn’t always worked out that way because the defending champion may lose too many key players to be placed on that pedestal—which seems to be the case with oddsmakers this year.
Looking ahead to 2020, the teams expected to be in the mix to win the national championship should come as no surprise to anyone. According to the odds at DraftKings, it is a tight race at the very top of the list. But the odds waste no time getting much, much longer.
The top four are Clemson (+250), Ohio State (+300), Alabama (+400), and LSU (+700).
Chances are good that Clemson and Ohio State will remain at the top of the list for the foreseeable future. Both have Heisman Trophy candidates coming back at quarterback, great head coaches, and highly ranked recruiting classes to help fill any voids.
Lawrence is getting his running back, Travis Etienne, back but will need his offensive line to be rebuilt (one returning starter). However, if recent history is any indication, Clemson has bounced back very well the following season after disappointing finishes.
The embarrassing loss at the hands of LSU certainly qualifies as a disappointing finish.
At Ohio State, Justin Fields will keep the offense moving despite losing some skill position guys from last year’s squad. There are a number of promising talents expected to step in like Master Teague and Chris Olave.
The offensive line will need a couple of new starters, and the defense lost quite a few guys. But Ohio State has recruited well in recent years.
As for Alabama and LSU, both could slip—but they might not. Can Mac Jones carry the offense, or will Nick Saban turn to his five-star recruit, Bryce Young? What about the holes on offense and defense? The day Nick Saban doesn’t have guys ready to step into starting roles will be the day he retires.
LSU lost a lot. Not only is Joe Burrow gone, but so is the passing game coordinator that helped make him. Ed Orgeron is going to have quite a few key positions looking for someone new to step up (including his defensive coordinator).
NCAAF Championship Odds: Outside the Big Four
Outside of those four, the odds go up rather quickly: Georgia (+1200), Florida (+1600), Notre Dame (+2000), Oklahoma (+2500), Oregon (+4000), Texas A&M (+4000), Texas (+4000), and USC (+4000).
Georgia is expected to be one of the best teams in the SEC again. But that is not because they have so much great talent coming back. No, it is more because of their coaching staff’s reputation and the perception people have of their recent recruits.
However, Florida could easily become the team to beat in the SEC East if Kyle Trask can continue to develop, and the offense can reload. The defense will need a few guys to step up as well. Many experts are high on Notre Dame. It looks like we may finally find out just how good a head coach Lincoln Riley is since he doesn’t have a superstar quarterback this season.
Oregon, Texas A&M, Texas, and USC all have potential and should be good teams. But each will need a few talented players to emerge we haven’t heard of yet to have a shot at the national title.
Longshots can’t be overlooked, though. LSU’s preseason odds were just +2500. Ohio State’s were only +4000 in 2014. When Auburn won in 2010, their preseason odds were +5000.
Penn State (+5000) showed a lot of promise last season and will see a lot of talent coming back. Auburn (+5000) looked impressive at times and could make a run if the right guys develop. If you are looking for a long shot, consider Oklahoma State (+10000) or maybe Miami (+15000).
But what makes college football great is that someone always emerges. Will that team be a title contender? Maybe. Maybe not. But they might disrupt someone else’s title run—and ruin your day.