Defending Champion LSU Opens at +200 to Reach 2021 College Football Playoff; Oklahoma & Georgia Also Available at Plus-Odds

Ed Orgeron
Ed Orgeron's LSU Tigers are +200 to return to the CFP and defend their title. Photo by Tammy Anthony Baker (Wiki Commons)
  • Oklahoma, Georgia & LSU are the top contenders at plus-odds to make the 2021 CFP
  • In six years, only three schools have reached the four-team playoff without winning their conference
  • See the odds for top contenders to win the National Championship in college football this season below

The College Football Playoff has largely been a creature of habit in its six-year history. It appears to be reserved only for Power Five programs (or at least that has been the case so far), with a handful of schools accounting for nearly all the spots.

Of 24 playoff spots in the six seasons, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma have accounted for 17 of them. It should be no surprise, then, that those four schools have the best odds to return again, based on the current 2021 College Football Playoff odds.

Odds to Make 2021 College Football Playoff

Team Odds at BetOnline
Clemson -200
Ohio State -150
Alabama -125
Oklahoma +125
Georgia +150
LSU +200
Notre Dame +275
Florida +350
Texas +400
Texas A&M +400

Odds taken March 25

In this article, we’ll focus on the top contenders receiving “plus” odds (i.e. Oklahoma, Georgia and LSU), to review who might be the best bet to make the College Football Playoff in the coming season.

Prior Experience

As previously stated, Oklahoma has tons of prior playoff experience. The Sooners have utterly dominated the Big 12, winning the past five conference titles — and as a result, they’ve reached the playoff four times.

Georgia’s playoff experience is limited to the 2017-18 season, when the Bulldogs knocked off Baker Mayfield’s Sooners in the semifinal before dropping an overtime thriller to Alabama in the title game.

LSU has also only reached the playoff once, finally ousting Alabama this past season from its SEC title throne. Of course, the Tigers went on to win the championship over Clemson in rather dominant fashion.

Key Returnees

It will be difficult for the Sooners to replace a receiver like CeeDee Lamb, but Jadon Haselwood is going to try. Haselwood, the No. 1 wide receiver recruit in 2019, enters his sophomore season with a chance to step in and take over the spotlight.

Georgia has 10 returning players, eight of which are on the defensive side of the ball. That’s nice, given that the Bulldogs were third in the nation in total defense (275.7 yards allowed/game). But it also means the offense will essentially be brand new.

As for LSU, defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. returns after an incredible six interceptions during his freshman season. On the offensive side of the ball, Ja’Marr Chase (84 catches, 1,780 yards, 20 touchdowns) has a chance to win the Biletnikoff Award in back-to-back seasons and boost his already dazzling draft stock in his junior year.

All three teams have to replace their quarterback position though, which brings its own assortment of uncertainties — especially entering a season that is already behind schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calendar Dates Worth Circling

The Sooners have dominated the Big 12, but their notable opponent is always conference rival Texas (scheduled for Oct. 10). The Longhorns figure to have a strong team this season, as is evident from their playoff odds (+400), and they knocked off the Sooners two years ago.

Georgia has an early-season road matchup with Alabama (Sept. 19), which is certainly their most concerning matchup. But they get Auburn at home (Oct. 10) and have favorable non-conference foes (Virginia, East Tenn. State, UL-Monroe), which is a plus.

LSU also gets to host Alabama (Nov. 7), which is significant in what figures to be one of the most anticipated games on the regular season calendar. The Tigers do close the season with two road games though, against Auburn and Texas A&M, which might be difficult to navigate.

It’s worth noting that the Tigers also have the least desirable non-conference game. They host Texas on Sept. 12, a rematch of last year’s early-season thriller.

Who Is the Best Bet of the Bunch?

Oklahoma has the shortest odds of this group for a reason. With less mines to dodge in conference play, the Sooners are a strong bet to win the Big 12 again and pave their own path to the playoff.

With that being said, LSU presents interesting value to potentially overthrow Alabama in the SEC once more. The Tigers’ prospective quarterback, Myles Brennan, may not be Joe Burrow incarnate — but he has been in the LSU system for three years and should be well prepared to take the reigns (especially with weapons like Chase, Terrace Marshall & top recruit Arik Gilbert at his disposal).

Georgia’s question marks on offense are too much of a concern, but there’s no reason they can’t win their division and face Alabama/LSU in the SEC title game — a game that would certainly have major playoff implications.

Pick: Oklahoma (+125)

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