Summer is here, and that means football season is upon us. A summer tradition unlike any other — grinding out research for football futures. I’ll have a series of my favorite NCAA Football futures releasing all the way up until the start of the season in late August and early September.
The last two years have been a pretty extreme rollercoaster ride for the Tigers. The 2019 team, led by Joe Burrow and a record 14 NFL Draft picks, went 15-0 and is arguably the greatest college football team of all-time. That team was loaded, and returned just two starters in 2020! We should’ve known more regression was on the way with a roster turnover like that, and LSU finished the year at just 5-5 — but showed some late promise with a massive upset victory at Florida and a win over Mississippi.
I think those two wins to end the season give the 2021 Tigers some real momentum, especially for a roster returning an insane 18 starters — very balanced with nine on each side of the ball. There are two veteran QB options, both of which this team should be able to win with, and just as importantly, that means this team could survive an injury at the most crucial position on the field and potentially survive.
The SEC West is a gauntlet, but the talent on this team should be enough to get to at least 9-3. Having to go 7-5 to actually lose this bet seems like a pretty unlikely outcome. LSU will obviously be a dog on the road to Alabama, but it’s not crazy to think it’ll be favored in the other 11 games. At worst, a solid favorite in nine of the games, with pick’em type scenarios against teams like Florida and Texas A&M, both of which are home games.
The Tigers have a real chance to start the season on a five or six-game winning streak, which would really put us in a great spot for this total. While UCLA will get a (tough) warmup game against Hawaii in Week 0, I still think LSU -4 is a good play on the road in Week 1 to begin the year against the Bruins.
Phil Steele spoke extremely highly of the Tigers when he joined me on the Unreasonable Odds podcast (which you can find at the top of this article), and he backed the talk up in his magazine. Steele has LSU ranked as his No. 6 surprise team in 2021, meaning a team not ranked in the top-10 that could land in the College Football Playoff.
While voters don’t have the Tigers in the top-10, Steele views things differently. In his “power poll” strictly ranking teams by talent, LSU ranks No. 9 overall. And most impressively, due to those 18 returning starters and depth at the QB position, Steele has LSU ranked as his No. 2 most improved team in all of college football. Look for a massive resurgence from the Tigers, who should have a shot at double-digit wins.
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