It’s that time again, folks. We are officially less than 50 days away from kicking off the 2016-2017 college football season. California and Hawaii will get things started from half way across the globe in Sydney, Australia on August 26. The real question that is on everyone’s mind, however, is what team will be left standing at the end of it all. Vegas says  the most likely teams to win the National Championship next season are:

Alabama: 7 to 1

Clemson: 15 to 2

Ohio State: 15 to 2

Michigan: 8 to 1

But you already knew that. The only real surprise on that list is Michigan, entering its second season under notably dubious head coach Jim Harbaugh. Who is REALLY going to hoist that sleek new trophy come January? It’s an SEC West team (shocker), but it’s not who you think.

My Prediction: The LSU Tigers

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Why: Let’s break down the schedule. LSU opens the season at Lambeau Field against the Wisconsin Badgers. Might climate be an issue for the Tigers? Sure. The bigger problem, though, will be one in the Tigers’ favor. Presumed Badgers starting quarterback Bart Houston (Junior, Dublin, CA) only saw game action three times last season. In those three outings, he accounted for 3 touchdowns and threw 2 interceptions. Long story short: the Tigers’ secondary (headed by senior standout Tre White and former 5-star recruit Kevin Toliver) will have no trouble holding the Badger’s limping passing attack at bay.

The next challenge on the schedule for LSU comes much later. They will meet Alabama on November 5th at Tiger Stadium. This may very well be the only potential loss on LSU’s schedule for 2016. However, Alabama is searching for a new starting quarterback to replace Jake Coker and a new running back to make up for the lost production of Heisman winner Derrick Henry. That’s great news for LSU’s veteran defense headed by their deeply talented defensive line, touted as one of the best in the country.

LSU’s defense is the known factor in this equation. The one issue that could lead to their demise is that of the quarterback position. Despite the return of 2015 starter Brandon Harris, questions still surround what might prove to be the team’s achilles heel. In 2015, Harris’ completion percentage was a lousy 53%, and he threw interceptions on the biggest stages (at Alabama, 2 at Ole Miss, vs. Texas A&M). Harris’ athletic ability and usefulness in the read option are his positives, but his downside is that he is inadequate when it comes to throwing the ball, the quarterback’s number one job.

Defense wins championships, so who do you have? The favorites, or the field? My money is on the field as long as that field includes the LSU Tigers.