LSU Championship Odds: Making the Case For Brian Kelly’s Tigers

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LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) and Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner (15) in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. LSU won 32-31 in overtime.
(AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jun 23, 2023, 2:03 PM

I spend practically every day in the summer pouring through various tabs of returning production and college football odds

I try to translate as much as possible into actionable betting thoughts for blog readers. And while I focus more on win totals and less drastic futures, I do occasionally consider College Football Playoff futures and national championship odds.

LSU Football: Making the Case For the Tigers in 2023

That leads me to LSU, which is sixth in the table, but third among SEC teams. Georgia (+210) and Alabama (+600) are both expected to remain at the absolute heart of the championship race.

At face value, that’s a fine assumption to make. But at 14-to-1, even after some initial line movement, LSU feels inherently undervalued in this market.

To win a national championship in 2023, teams need to check three or four key boxes. Very few teams can; LSU does. Let’s do a quick walkthrough:

An Elite Head Coach: Brian Kelly

Some college football fans bag on Brian Kelly after a string of blowout postseason losses. I do not.

What you have to understand about Kelly is that he spent most of his career coaching at inherently flawed programs. He first made a national name for himself at Cincinnati, which at the time was a Big East add-on with very little national clout. The Bearcats were known as more of a basketball program with minimal high-level football accomplishment. 

Kelly worked them into the top 10 before jumping to Notre Dame prior to the 2010 season. The Irish hadn’t played in too many meaningful games in the previous 20 years; Kelly had them playing for a national championship by Year 3. 

But Notre Dame is an elite academic institution, which can put a ceiling on a team’s achievement potential. In playing postseason games against SEC rosters, Kelly routinely hit his head on that ceiling.

That explains his jump to LSU, which has a tradition of excellent recruiting and no such limitations. 

Kelly immediately showed how much better a coach he is than his predecessor – despite most national pundits (including myself) declaring that LSU wouldn’t be competitive until 2023 or later, LSU toppled Alabama in Year 1 and punched its ticket to a more-competitive-than-we-remember SEC championship game against Georgia. 

There are only a handful of national championship-caliber coaches. LSU unequivocally has one.

A Better-Than-Average Quarterback: Jayden Daniels

There are teams that win national championships because they have absolutely elite college quarterbacks. That includes 2019 LSU, when Joe Burrow and the Tigers’ offense went thermonuclear on just about everyone, game after game. 

But you don’t need an awesome quarterback. They can’t suck, but they don’t have to be the second coming of Joey B, either.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels is… good. He’s not a first-round draft pick, but he’s not a Missouri Valley quarterback, either. His total QBR ranked 18th nationally last year, between KJ Jefferson and Sam Hartman.

Even if Daniels shows zero offseason improvement, he’s still a good, top-20 kind of starter. He also happens to be one of only two SEC quarterbacks returning to play for the same offensive coordinator that he had last season.

If LSU has some championship pieces around him, that certainly could be good enough to win the SEC. It won the SEC West last year, and its defense was barely top 50 on an EPA/play basis!

A Path To the College Football Playoff

This is probably the disqualifying factor for a majority of teams. Anyone can hit on an up-and-coming coach or develop a great college quarterback. But if everything goes right, how close are you to a College Football Playoff berth?

We know this answer for basically every SEC team. Last season, LSU was a presumed playoff team if they beat Georgia for the SEC championship, even with two losses. 

As we nearly saw last year, LSU doesn’t just have a path – it has substantial room for error, too.

LSU Football Futures: Tigers Are Deeply Undervalued

One of the basic rules of futures prices is that the obvious targets have to be priced at the top of the market, lest online sportsbooks (like BetMGM) get swamped with a ton of public action.

So I understand why two-time reigning champion Georgia has to be priced at +210. I understand why Nick Saban’s dynastic Alabama team has to be second in the table.

Still, the talent drain at Georgia and Alabama over the last two years opens up a real window for a team like LSU in the SEC this year. And unlike LSU, neither of those schools has any real experience at the quarterback position.

At +1400, the Tigers are arguably the most compelling championship bet on the board right now. They’re the reigning champion of the SEC West, with primary rivals in both divisions in need of a reload at the most important position in the sport. 

A bet on LSU to win the SEC (+500) or make the CFP is a bit more conservative. But for now, I’m buying up all the LSU positions I can to set up potential hedge scenarios later.

Once the season starts, and LSU looks like the best team in the SEC, it won’t take long for this number to crash.

How To Bet on College Football Futures

College football betting doesn’t stop when the games end in January. You can bet on futures throughout the offseason!

As teams are holding spring practice, adding players from the transfer portal, and releasing depth charts, you can view updated online sports betting odds for a variety of markets, including national championship odds, win totals, and conference champion odds.

If you don’t have an account, register today with BetMGM’s welcome offer. Once you have an account, check for daily sports betting promos.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.