LSU climbs to No. 2, but oddsmakers see difficult path to College Football Playoff

LSU may have jumped to No. 2 in the AP poll, but futures markets still have the Tigers trailing other superpowers when ranking the most likely college football national champions.

You probably watched LSU (-14) beat Florida 42-28 last week, where the Tigers won total yardage 511-457 on a stunning 10.6 to 5.4 yards-per-play. That launched LSU past No. 3 Georgia…who was shocked by South Carolina 20-17 in overtime as 20-point favorites (winning yardage 468-297 but losing the turnover category 4-0); and past idle Ohio State and previous No. 2 Clemson.

Pollsters decided that beating Florida by 14…on the heels of beating Texas by 7 in Austin…deserved special credit given Clemson’s near-loss to North Carolina a few weeks ago.

Futures bettors? They still know that it could be tough for both #1 Alabama and LSU to reach the playoff from a competitive SEC West division. Here are this week’s national championship odds from the Westgate in Las Vegas…

Alabama 2/1, Clemson 3/1, Ohio State 9/2, Oklahoma 5/1, LSU 7/1, Wisconsin 12/1, Georgia 16/1. (If you’re new to sports betting, a $100 wager on Alabama would earn a profit of $200 if it wins the national championship, a $100 bet on LSU would earn a profit of $700.)

Nobody else is currently better than 50/1 at the Westgate. So, right now, the championship chase is perceived to be an eight-team race where head-to-head losses are disqualifiers. Important to note…

Clemson and Oklahoma won’t play anyone else on that list until a projected playoff. They have the inside track for reaching the Final Four as prohibitive favorites in their remaining games.

Ohio State and Wisconsin play each other October 26 in Columbus, then possibly again in the Big 10 championship game. It would be tough to deny an undefeated survivor a playoff bid. The explosive Buckeyes will be a clear betting favorite a week from Saturday, and very likely neutral-field favorites in a rematch as well.

Alabama and LSU play each other Nov. 9 in Tuscaloosa. Both also have dangerous Auburn left. The Crimson Tide will be favored to top the Tigers…though sharps will be looking to leap on newly multi-faceted LSU at the right price.

If one-loss Georgia wins the SEC East, it would like face the Alabama-LSU survivor in the conference title tilt. The Bulldogs have the toughest challenge of the top eight because of their loss. True odds are likely much longer than 16/1. (If you’re a Georgia fan…just wait to see if they reach the SEC Championship game with one loss, then bet them on the money line the rest of the way for a better-than-16/1 return).

VSiN will update futures markets for you down the stretch.

Other Notes

LSU will be in Starkville Saturday to visit Mississippi State (CBS, 2:30 p.m.). The Bulldogs disappointed again last week, losing 20-10 at Tennessee as 5-point favorites. State was outgained 357-267 on 6.2 to 4.6 yards-per-play. How will the home dog keep up with LSU off an awful passing line of 11-21-3-146 in Knoxville?

LSU could close as high as a 20-point or 21-point favorite Saturday, much higher than anyone had dreamed back during the summer. Mississippi State enters the week 3-3 straight up, 2-4 against the spread.

Ole Miss is at least coming off a pointspread cover as they prepare to host Texas A&M Saturday night (SEC Network, 6:30 p.m.). The Rebels stayed within +12.5 in a 38-27 loss at Missouri last week. A soft Mississippi defense allowed 562 total yards on 7.2 yards-per-play, and 60% on third down conversions.

The Aggies opened as 6-point favorites. Sharps would consider the home dog if +7 comes into play after public betting. Ole Miss is currently 3-4 straight up, but a money-winning 4-3 ATS after last week’s cover.

Southern Miss (-3) looked great last week at home against North Texas. The Golden Eagles won total yardage 563-378 on 7.7 to 6.0 yards-per-play without committing a single turnover. And, how about that 29-36-0-421 passing line from quarterback Jack Abraham!?

This Saturday, Southern Miss has a huge C-USA West game at Louisiana Tech, which will be televised nationally by the NFL Network at 2:30 p.m. Early betting had the line around Tech by -1.5 or -2. That’s less than the standard value of home field advantage, which means markets respect the visitor.

VSiN returns Saturday to preview the much anticipated matchup between the red hot New Orleans Saints and the bye-rested Chicago Bears (Sunday, FOX, 3:25 p.m.)

In the meantime, Thursday night’s NFL attraction got a lot more interesting after last week’s results. Slumping Kansas City is visiting resurgent Denver (FOX/NFL Network, 7:20 p.m.). The Broncos could pull within one game of first place in the AFC West with an upset.

Last Sunday, Kansas City (-3.5) lost its second straight game as a home favorite, falling to Houston 31-24 on a massive yardage loss of 472-309. Denver (-1) humbled Tennessee 16-0, winning total yardage 270-204.

Early betting for Thursday’s game suggested that Kansas City attracted money at -3, but sharp dog lovers were backing the Broncos at +3.5.

Jeff Fogle writes the daily VSiN newsletter. Sign up at