LSU Football: Early Game-by-Game Prediction for the 2014 Season
LSU fans are always buzzing about the Tigers. Except, at the moment, it's not about the football team.
LSU Baseball just earned a coveted national seed for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. But, as head coach Paul Mainieri gets his team prepared for another run to Omaha, it is never too early to look ahead to the upcoming football season.
One of Les Miles' many challenges heading into the season is the arduous schedule. The Tigers have a vicious eight-game SEC slate and a non-conference opponent that has been to three Rose Bowls in the past four seasons.
Here are some far too early previews and predictions for next season.
Wisconsin (Neutral), Aug 30th
LSU's faceoff against Wisconsin will be one of the most heavily anticipated season openers in college football. The Tigers and Badgers will play old-school, smashmouth tackle football at Reliant Stadium in Houston for the 2014 Advocare Texas Kickoff.
Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will have made a decision as to who will start at quarterback between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris. Fans will also finally get to see the heavily anticipated 2014 recruiting class in action.
Yet the biggest challenge for the Tigers will be stopping running back Melvin Gordon, who has Heisman potential. LSU will be breaking in two new starting defensive tackles and outside linebackers.
Expect the game to be close, but the Tigers will edge out the Badgers late in the fourth quarter.
Score: LSU 21 - Wisconsin 14
Sam Houston St., Sept. 6th
Sam Houston State is a formidable foe against Southern Conference opponents, but not against a top-level team from the SEC. LSU should roll through the Bearkats much like what Texas A&M did to them last year.
Mike the Tiger will be dancing plenty after the game too.
Score: LSU 49 - Sam Houston St. 17
UL-Monroe, Sept. 13th
LSU's only game against a school from Louisiana will be against UL-Monroe. The Warhawks were a disappointing 6-6 in the Sun Belt Conference last year.
UL-Monroe should have another tough year in 2014. Quarterback Kolton Browning, the Warhawks' best offensive weapon, is now gone.
Simply put, the Tigers would dismantle the Warhawks even if they had Browning.
Score: LSU 45 - UL-Monroe 17
Mississippi State, Sept. 20th
Les Miles should be ecstatic his first conference game of this season is at home against Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs have been above average under head coach Dan Mullen, considering the difficulty of the SEC West. Mullen returns quarterback Dak Prescott, who dazzled at times as a runner and a passer last season. Mississippi State will be one of the more experienced teams overall next season in the SEC.
The Tigers won big in last year's tilt, largely in part to amazing efforts from quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Jeremy Hill and receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. But the talented offensive quartet is now gone.
LSU will be tested in this game, but expect Miles to pull a tight one out in the second half.
Score: LSU 27 - Mississippi State 21
New Mexico State, Sept. 27th
New Mexico State will be the easiest game on LSU's schedule. The Aggies only won two games last year in the Western Athletic Conference.
New Mexico State is the last non-conference and cupcake game on the schedule. Expect Miles and the rest of the coaching staff to get all of their young players more experience in this game, most notably Leonard Fournette.
Score: LSU 51 - New Mexico St. 7
Auburn (Away), Oct. 4th
Auburn had some good fortune last season to get to the national championship game, but they were still a great team. Next season, they could be even better.
Offensive genius Gus Malzahn returns dynamic quarterback Nick Marshall, big-play receiver Sammie Coates and some talented young defensive players. Yet Malzahn did lose Hesiman-finalist Tre Mason and pass-rushing specialist Dee Ford to the NFL.
Auburn's only loss in SEC play last season came against LSU in Death Valley. This season, the Tigers from the Plains will host Miles' Bayou Bengals.
For LSU to win, the offensive line must be on top of their game. The experienced group was below average on the road in the SEC last season. The defense must also be able to keep up with the pace of Malzahn's offense.
Auburn, behind a raucous home crowd, wins by the slightest of margins.
Score: Auburn 21 - LSU 20
Florida (Away), Oct. 11th
Playing Florida in The Swamp is never an easy task. Doing so after playing the first road game of the season the week before against Auburn makes it even harder for Les Miles.
The Gators can only go up after a horrendous meltdown in 2013. Head coach Will Muschamp's seat has formed into lava, as fans in Gainesville want to see better results.
Muschamp probably needs a bowl berth and a signature win at the minimum to keep his job. Though he has beaten LSU in The Swamp already, a win against the Tigers will go a long way with the fans.
LSU wore down the Gators last year in the trenches with an exceptional performance from the offensive line. The Tigers should be able to do the same again this season on both sides of the ball.
Score: LSU 24 - Florida 17
Kentucky, Oct. 18th
Kentucky was manhandled 35-7 in its last visit to Death Valley in 2011. The Tigers emphatically clawed the Wildcats through the air, holding them to 7-of-25 passing for 66 yards.
LSU's secondary should be the best they have been since that year, led by sophomore cornerback Tre'Davious White. The Wildcats have yet to name a starting quarterback, but Bleacher Report's SEC Lead Writer Barrett Sallee believes it should be freshman Drew Barker.
No matter who starts, quarterbacks with average supporting casts are doomed in Tiger Stadium. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops has yet to develop the weapons needed to win a game of this magnitude.
Score: LSU 31 - Kentucky 13
Ole Miss, Oct. 25th
LSU has not played its best football against Ole Miss with Hugh Freeze as the head coach.
Last season, the Tigers were thoroughly outcoached and outplayed in an ugly 27-24 road loss to the Rebels. In 2012, LSU needed a dazzling punt return touchdown in Death Valley from Odell Beckham Jr. to narrowly escape Ole Miss.
Bo Wallace performed admirably at quarterback for the Rebels in both games, throwing for a combined 656 yards. Wallace returns for his senior season with sophomore receiver Laquon Treadwell by his side.
The game will be close, but expect LSU to find a way to establish the run late and win in a classic.
Score: LSU 28 - Ole Miss 24
Alabama, Nov. 8th
Les Miles and Nick Saban are smart men. Both not only know how to win the SEC, but the importance of a bye week before playing each other.
LSU and Alabama will both be coming off a bye before squaring off for the fifth straight year. The matchup is annually one of the most talent-filled games on the college football schedule.
The Crimson Tide will be breaking in a new starting quarterback. AJ McCarron eviscerated the LSU defense in the the past three games he played against them, which will allow defensive coordinator John Chavis to sleep better the night of Nov. 7th.
The key to defeating the Tide is being balanced on offense and not allowing the big play on defense. The Tigers failed to do both of those last year in Tuscaloosa and lost the game 38-17.
LSU and Alabama both have major holes on both sides of the ball that need to be filled. As of right now, the Crimson Tide have slightly better players to fill them.
Score: Alabama 23 - LSU 21
Arkansas (Away), Nov. 15th
The annual tradition of LSU and Arkansas playing instant classics over Thanksgiving weekend is now over, which is a shame. Eight of the last nine games between the two schools have been decided by one possession or less.
But that doesn't mean the close games will not continue.
Arkansas can only go up after not winning a single game in the SEC last season. Head coach Bret Bielema has a nice stable of running backs, but will need quarterback Brandon Allen to play better.
Simply put, LSU has more talent on both sides of the ball. There should be no reason the Tigers should not win emphatically. But then again, the Tigers were three possession favorites last season yet scratched by late.
Score: LSU 31 - Arkansas 17
Texas A&M (Away), Nov. 27th
LSU's new opponent to close out the regular season is Texas A&M. The Aggies, under head coach Kevin Sumlin, have been nothing short of spectacular on offense...except against the Tigers.
Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel had two of his worst games of his career against the Tigers. Now, Sumlin must find a way to move the ball with a new quarterback against a blazing fast defense.
Yet the biggest question mark for the Aggies will be on the other side of the ball. Texas A&M was last in scoring defense in the SEC and have holes to fill this year. The Tigers should be able to run the football with effectiveness in victory.
Score: LSU 31 - Texas A&M 24
Final Regular Season Record: 10-2
*Agree? Disagree? Let Carter Bryant know in the comment section or on Twitter @CarterthePower.