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College Football 2013 Top 25 Preview: No. 12 LSU Tigers

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2012 Recap: How did LSU do? It depends how you interpret it. The Tigers beat Texas A&M and South Carolina. They led in the fourth quarter against Alabama. On the other hand, they could not pull away against decrepit Arkansas and Auburn teams. 10-3 in the SEC West is not terrible, but, given the talent available, one could have expected more.

Offense: LSU has the components for a productive offense. The problem, as always, is assembling them. Mettenberger has a big arm. He can make all the throws. He also ranked outside the Top 60 in passer rating last year and threw just five touchdowns in SEC play. They have an effective receiver tandem with Beckham and Landry. They are stocked at running back, since the team voted Jeremy Hill back. They lose veteran offensive linemen but, at least on paper, return size, depth and talent.

Defense: The defense lost a lot of NFL-caliber talent, because Chavis and Co. have a track record of finding and cultivating NFL-caliber talent. The line, anchored by probable first round defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, should be among the SEC’s best. The Tigers are also well provisioned at linebacker and in the secondary. The worry with them is any level of regression. For a team that has a tendency to scrape together one-score wins, even a decline from Top 10 to Top 15 or 20 nationally could be impactful.

USATSI_6813934_153192880_lowresAussie Rules Punting: LSU lost mercurial punting talent Brad Wing, but have a virtual clone in his countryman Jamie Keehn.

Summer of Les: Les Miles rappelled down a building, explained social media, did the Harlem Shake and interacted with children. Not unrelatedly, he skated by on that whole Jeremy Hill thing.

Schedule: This is not a slate for the fearful. Playing in the SEC West is always tough. LSU plays Florida for their cross-division rivalry. The other cross-division game is at Georgia. Throw in a neutral site opener with TCU for good measure.

Ceiling: 12-0. Les Miles’ insane stew ends up tasting delicious. The defense and offense hit their potential. The TIgers are too big of brutes for their brutal schedule, gut out some close wins to finish the regular season undefeated.

Floor: 6-6. LSU does not get things together on either side of the ball. They have some poor fortune. A moderate fall, with their rough schedule, turns into a dramatic one.

Prediction: 9-3. LSU is a very good team. Even if they split Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M. There are multiple pitfalls to avoid away from home.

25. USC 24. Miami 23. Northwestern 22. Oregon State 21. Nebraska 20. Texas 19. Louisville 18. Baylor 17. Michigan 16. TCU 15. Oklahoma 14. Clemson 13. Florida State

 

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