In this article we explain why the LSU Tigers and the Houston Cougars, two longshots to win the 2016-17 National Championship, should be considered when we place our college football picks.
Bovada recently released their college football odds to win the 2016-17 National Championship, with the Ohio State Buckeyes as favorites at +700 along with the Alabama Crimson Tide, the reigning champions. The Clemson Tigers, the runner-ups last season, have the second-best odds at +750 along with the Michigan Wolverines. However, bettors can find solid value for their college football picks with two teams that can surprise next season, the LSU Tigers and the Houston Cougars.
LSU Tigers (+1400)
LSU didn't enjoy watching their SEC rival Alabama win another national title, that much is certain. Les Miles will return as coach and the Tigers have the top recruiting class in the nation, which could inject life into the team's offense. The Tigers might have holes to fill but this team enters the season loaded with returning starters and star players and they're projected by many to start the year in the top five in the nation. LSU lost left tackle Jerald Hawkins to the NFL draft and they'll miss only three other starters from last season's 9-3 team. The Tigers have key pieces like running back Leonard Fournette, who is among the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy, Kendell Beckwith, a middle linebacker that can be a first-round pick one day and several highly touted defensive backs and wide receivers. Under new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, formerly with Wisconsin, LSU will dominate on the defensive side of the ball and be a dangerous team.
Houston Cougars (+5000)
The Houston Cougars look forward to an opportunity to prove that AAC teams can also compete with any power conference team and win a national championship. Houston recently signed the nation's 30th-ranked recruiting class, which is remarkable because it is the highest finish ever for a school outside of a power conference (the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference (B1G), Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) ). The Cougars also became the first non-power conference program to sign a five-star recruit since 2006, when ESPN began ranking recruits.
With dual-threat quarterback Greg Ward Jr. under center, leading a high-powered offense that averaged 40.6 points per game last season, Houston looks to build on the success of a 13-1 season that included an AAC championship, a 38-24 win over Florida State in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl and a top-10 finish in the polls.
The biggest issue that experts have with Houston is that they play in a weak conference, but if they can go undefeated no one can deny them a spot in the College Football Playoff, and at +5000 odds, it's worth taking a shot with this team.