Since the College Football Playoff (CFP) was introduced to replace the previous Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 2014, only four colleges have managed to get their hands on the undisputed overall title. Ohio State Buckeyes were the inaugural winners in 2014, Alabama Crimson Tide in 2015 and 2017, Clemson Tigers in 2016 and 2018, then the LSU Tigers in 2019 as the most recently crowned champions.

Looking ahead to the 2020-2021 NCAAF season, it’s hardly surprising to find that when it comes to American football odds in the college futures markets, those four teams are once again the usual suspects expected to challenge for the championship.

Clemson are +225 favorites and closely followed by Ohio State at +300 in the betting stakes, while Alabama are at +450 and despite being the reigning champions, LSU are at +650 to repeat that feat.

That LSU aren’t considered the favorites next season is perhaps a surprise for some, especially given how powerful the Tigers were throughout their 2019-20 campaign, achieving a spectacular 8-0 SEC record and 15-0 overall, and tearing apart the other Tigers from Clemson in the CFP National Championship Game. That game finished 42-25 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, as LSU made the most of the vocal support in their home state.

That said, LSU was actually ranked sixth in the 2019 NCAA preseason AP Poll and predicted to finish behind Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC West. However, they upset all the odds and defeated all the other top-ten-ranked teams, as everything worked like clockwork for head coach Ed Orgeron.

LSU will need to overcome notable losses

Nevertheless, that team from last year will need to overcome some notable losses to their roster in 2020. Arguably the biggest of all will be 2019 Heisman Trophy and Manning Award winner Joe Burrow, with the 23-year-old now considered to be the top quarterback prospect in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. He seems destined to be the first overall pick for the Cincinnati Bengals, if the majority of mock draft predictions prove accurate.

Burrow is amongst some nine veteran starters that LSU will be losing from their 2019 Championship roster, after declaring for the NFL Draft. These include Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who many observers at the SI.com LSUCountry blog praised as the beating “heart” of the Tigers offense last season, along with two-time All-American safety Grant Delpit.

Outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson, tight end Thaddeus Moss, center Lloyd Cushenberry, offensive tackle Saahdiq Charles, plus indomitable inside linebackers Patrick Queen and Jacob Philips are the others departing for careers in the NFL.

All huge gaps to fill, although there are several key players from last season returning, along with plenty of exciting freshman options joining the roster.

Recruitment at LSU remains consistent and packed with talented players joining their program. There’s no doubt that Ed Orgeron will face a challenging year molding them into genuine contenders, though it’s a task he’s already familiar with. Despite the departures and doubts about their credentials, even as the reigning champions heading into next season, the Tigers can never be underestimated in the NCAAF arena.