LSU was considered one of the favorites to win the national title last season, but the Tigers came up just short, finishing 10-3 overall with two losses in SEC play by eight points or less.
Even though LSU didn’t win the SEC West or play for the national championship, 2012 marked the third consecutive season the Tigers have won at least 10 or more games.
And even with a handful of players departing from last year’s team, the cupboard is far from bare in Baton Rouge. The Tigers have recruited among the best in the nation, so talent won’t be an issue in 2013. However, coach Les Miles and his staff will have to quickly blend some new faces into the lineup, especially with the season opener against TCU and a key conference game on Sept. 28 at Georgia.
What will LSU's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
LSU's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
8/31 TCU (Arlington)
9/14 Kent State
9/28 at Georgia
10/5 at Miss. State
10/19 at Ole Miss
11/9 at Alabama
11/23 Texas A&M
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
The off week situation makes me want to pick LSU to upset Alabama on the road or Texas A&M at home. LSU gets a bye before Alabama, then a bye after the Tide into the game against the Aggies. I picked against LSU in both, but I’d likely change my tune if we see the same old dominant defense and a more consistent Zach Mettenberger in the first two months of the season. But before LSU gets big eyes to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa again, they need to see how the Tigers fare against Florida and Ole Miss. The game between LSU and Florida may end up being the obligatory SEC game with a 7-3 final. Ole Miss has a ton of momentum, but are the Rebels the kind of team that’s going to beat LSU? I don’t know yet.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even with all of the new faces stepping into the lineup, LSU is still a threat to contend for 10 wins and a BCS bowl. The Tigers have one of the toughest crossover schedules in the SEC, as they play at Georgia on Sept. 28 and host Florida on Oct. 12. The Bulldogs and Gators could both be preseason top-10 teams when they play LSU. A key swing game to watch will be the Oct. 19 matchup against Ole Miss, which comes one week after a home date against Florida.
Much of LSU’s season will hinge on the hire of Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator and quarterback Zach Mettenberger. With a solid offensive line and stable of running backs, it’s up to Mettenberger to take the offense to the next level. And while the defense is breaking in eight new starters, there’s very little reason to expect a drop off with John Chavis calling the plays.
If the transition goes as planned, 10 wins isn’t out of the question for Miles’ team. But much of LSU’s 2013 SEC West title hopes will rest on the right arm of Mettenberger and how the Tigers navigate a difficult crossover schedule.
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
LSU has turned into an underrated team in the SEC thanks to the attention surrounding rivals Alabama and Texas A&M. LSU has to replace several key players from last year’s defense, but the Tigers have plenty of talent remaining for defensive coordinator John Chavis. Still, I predict a 9-3 record for LSU. Back-to-back games against Alabama and Texas A&M (with a bye week in between) will be key. LSU will likely find itself in the SEC championship game if it manages to win both of those games.
LSU lost a lot of talent on defense and has plenty of questions on offense, starting with its quarterback, but some way, some how, Les Miles usually finds a way to get nine or more wins. I think this year's Tigers will match that benchmark, thanks to a couple of scheduling breaks, if you will. The season opener against TCU won't be a cakewalk, but LSU won't have to worry about stopping the Horned Frogs' best defender, Devonte Fields, as he will miss this game due to suspension. The road games at Georgia and Alabama will be extremely tough, but Florida and Texas A&M both have to come to Death Valley, and you have to figure at least one, if not both of these, will be at night. As long as LSU doesn't slip up against Mississippi State on the road, this team should have a shot at 10 wins in the regular season. Unfortunately, that probably won't be enough to wind up in Atlanta for the SEC title game, but it could keep Miles' squad in the BCS conversation.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Youth and inexperience in the front seven, mediocre quarterback play and the toughest schedule in the league means that LSU won't be competing for an SEC title this year. In fact, it will have to win key swing games with Florida, TCU and Mississippi State to get to eight wins. Road trips to Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss and a home game with Texas A&M give the Bayou Bengals arguably the toughest schedule in the league this fall. And with a head coach who has a track record of making in-game mistakes and tinkering with his offense, that doesn't bode well. This defense is talented but will be much better in 2014.
SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo)
LSU has arguably the hardest schedule in the entire nation. The question, which Zach Mettenberger will answer the call? Is it the one who threw 0 TD, 0 INT and 169 passing yards versus Auburn, or the one who threw 1 TD, 0 INT and 298 passing yards versus Alabama? Two different games and two completely different QB’s. But hey, it doesn't hurt to have a bye week before Texas A&M and Alabama. (Raise your hand if you are still freaked out seeing 2 bye weeks on an SEC schedule) Fact: Les Miles has never lost more than 5 games in his 12 years as a head coach. Name to remember: Odell Beckham
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