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August 21, 2010

LSU: A team on a Mission in 2010

The preseason polls have LSU ranked from the 16th to the 21st best team in the nation.  LSU will play no less than 6 teams ranked in the top 25 this season.  The only question left by the polls is whether LSU will play two teams or four teams ranked above them.  

The disagreement between polls begins with LSU's first opponent.  While North Carolina is ranked 18 in both the USA Today and AP polls, this places them two spots below LSU, #16 in the USA Today poll, but three spots above #21 ranked LSU in the AP poll.

Whether the Bayou Bengals are ranked 16 or 21, whether they are two spots above or three spots below the Tarheels will make absolutely no difference in determining which team will win the season opener or where LSU will finish this season.  While LSU could have a miserable 5-7 season, they are much more likely to have a magical 13-0 year.

Alabama, ranked #1, and Florida, ranked #3 and #4, are overrated. By the same token, LSU has been badly underestimated by those voting in the preseason polls.  I may be biased beyond reason but, I think that LSU will win at minimum 10 games this season and with the right amount of luck could very well go undefeated. 

All six of LSU's ranked opponents have a good chance of beating LSU and most, if not all, of those opponents will fall short.  North Carolina should be favored in the season opener but under Les Miles, LSU has never lost a season opener and LSU has also made a habit of beating strong ACC teams.  This game is not going to start a new trend.

Vanderbilt plays tough early in the season, particularly at home, and Mississippi State should be an improved team in Dan Mullen's second year as head coach.  LSU has not lost to either of these two teams during Les Miles time as head coach and they will not lose to these teams this year.  Neither team has the players that LSU has and Vanderbilt's head coach lacks SEC game experience as a head coach.

Tennessee usually plays LSU very strong but, Lane Kiffin has left a mess for Derek Dooley to straighten out and he is not likely to straighten out that mess in Death Valley.  

It will take luck to beat Florida and Alabama but considering  the number of players that both teams lost last year to the NFL , LSU probably has a better than lucky shot at these two heavy weights.  Florida lost most of their defense from last year.  Alabama retained most of the key components of their offense, except All-American guard Mike Jones.  But, Alabama will miss field generals Rolando McClain and Javier Arenas and their outstanding kicker, Leigh Tiffin, will not be saving the Tide this year either.  Add to the mix the fact that LSU played both Alabama and Florida close last year and one of these two teams is likely to be a "W" for LSU.

Auburn, Ole Miss and Arkansas are all expected to be tough contenders this year.  LSU has a game against McNeese State just before the Auburn game and ULM just prior to the Ole Miss game which should mean that LSU will be fairly well rested and healed by the time they meet Auburn and Ole Miss.  Both of these games will be tough particularly with the addition of troubled but talented quarterback transfers at both opponent's schools but I think LSU has a good chance in both games.     

That leaves Arkansas to finish the season.  During the Les Miles Era, Arkansas has always gotten excited about playing LSU and has beaten LSU in some very close games.  LSU has let a few of these "Battle for the Boot" games get away from them but, if LSU manages to come into this game with one loss or less, the Tigers will be excited to cap off this regular season with a win proving the preseason poll people wrong.  I hope the Hogs do not catch the Tigers looking ahead to the SEC championship game.

Here is a good link to the New York Times "The Quad Blog" article that lists the five best and worst things about the LSU football team this year.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Florida's my guess to be the more likely of the two (bama or UF). The notion of Bama's two running backs and LSU's smallish front 4 and untested linebackers, plus just the fact Saban's on defense.. Not a good karma. But UF? They lost Tebow,
Brantley is the standard drop back passer, and LSU is as good as anyone personnel-wise when it comes to stopping passing. Add to that, Meyer is a lot more smoke than fire and if Jefferson doesnt melt in the heat of the swamp, just sayin if we were doin odd-evens, I'd be bettin on us takin out UF, Bama, maybe not.

As for Auburn at Auburn? You gotta beat the refs too, its Alabama, cant forget. But its just hard to see how Auburn all of a sudden got so much better. Arkansas? Its their strength against ours. Passing against pass defense. But in 07 we were a one loss team, had the national championship on the line and still lost. So history with Miles and Ark?

When it comes down to it, this is all speculation, we just dont know. It is fun, but at the end of the season where you finish has a lot to do with where you're rated to begin. JMO, but its really stupid to have rankings until after about four weeks of the season. Who knows if Bama or Boise St. are really all they were last year. Or is UF really top 5? How do you know? You dont.

But the way the rankings are set up, you dont advance past the top five unless one of them loses. Had LSU lost to UF back in 03 the week before USC lost rather than the week after, why there'd never been any controversial 'sharing of the MNC'. We'd have been ranked higher at the end of the season than them and it'd been all settled.

That system is stupid, and so is ranking teams before they've played a game.

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