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LSU Football: Final Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions

Carter BryantContributor IAugust 17, 2014

LSU Football: Final Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions

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    LSU head coach Les Miles (left) and Alabama head coach Nick Saban (right)
    LSU head coach Les Miles (left) and Alabama head coach Nick Saban (right)USA TODAY Sports

    LSU begins its 10th season under Les Miles in 13 days, yet it seems as if it was just yesterday when he took over the Tigers for the departed Nick Saban.

    Time flies when you're having fun. In the SEC, where football means everything, winning equates to fun.

    In nine years under Miles, the Tigers' 95 wins are eight more than any other SEC program. LSU's nine Top 25 finishes are more than any other SEC program in the same span.

    LSU has accumulated at least 10 wins in each of the past four seasons. However, that streak can easily be snapped as the young Bayou Bengals have a brutal schedule ahead of them.

    The Tigers were ranked No. 13 in the preseason AP poll released Saturday. But rankings can mean little. If LSU can avoid losing two games this season, it will be in the mix for one of the four playoff spots.

    Here is a preview of how the Tigers will fare in the 2014.

Wisconsin (Neutral), Aug. 30

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    LSU does not mind taking chances in season openers.

    The Tigers will face Wisconsin in Houston for 2014 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff. It will be the third time in four years that LSU has played in a neutral-field opener in Texas against a team from a power conference.

    Wisconsin will be led by Heisman hopeful running back Melvin Gordon and a beefy offensive line. On defense, the Badgers' secondary can be stingy. The experienced group's best player is cornerback Sojourn Shelton.

    LSU faced TCU's talented secondary in last year's season opener. The Horned Frogs covered Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry admirably, but Zach Mettenberger's precision passing was the difference in a 37-27 Tigers victory.

    LSU will likely not get the same from the quarterback position from either Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris. But expect the Tigers to run the ball successfully against a Wisconsin defense that lost leading tackler Chris Borland.

    The Tigers' offensive line will take over in the fourth quarter, giving LSU the edge in this tough opener. 

    Score: LSU 24, Wisconsin 14

Sam Houston State, Sept. 6

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    LSU running backs Leonard Fournette (left) and Terrence Magee (right)
    LSU running backs Leonard Fournette (left) and Terrence Magee (right)Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Sam Houston State will serve as the first of three cupcake home games for LSU in September.

    The Bearkats recently named redshirt sophomore Jared Johnson the starter, per GoBearkats.com. Johnson played limited snaps last season as a backup.

    Inexperienced quarterbacks from Football Championship Subdivision schools rarely survive Death Valley. Expect defensive coordinator John Chavis to have a field day against Johnson and the Bearkats offense.

    Score: LSU 42, Sam Houston State 17

UL-Monroe, Sept. 13

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    LSU receiver John Diarse is a Monroe native.
    LSU receiver John Diarse is a Monroe native.Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    LSU's lone Louisiana opponent will be UL-Monroe. The Tigers will not take it easy on the Warhawks just because they share the same state lines.

    The Bayou Bengals have outscored their third opponent on the schedule 108-27 over the past two seasons. Expect the Warhawks, without departed dual-threat quarterback Kolton Browning, to suffer a similar fate this year.

    Score: LSU 45, UL-Monore 10

Mississippi State, Sept. 20

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    Dak Prescott could be the toughest quarterback LSU faces this season.

    Prescott is a watered-down Cam Newton, which means he can beat defenses on the ground and through the air. His 6'2'', 235-pound frame makes him tough to bring down in the open field. He also has an experienced receiving corps led by senior Jameon Lewis.

    LSU struggled against Prescott in the first half of last year's tilt, but the Tigers defense eventually settled down thanks largely in part to a cushion created by Zach Mettenberger and the offense.

    LSU will have some difficulties defending Prescott again, which means the offense must move the ball effectively. The key will be blocking Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones. The Bulldogs finished an impressive fourth in the SEC in rushing defense last season.

    If LSU's offensive line can move Jones and a talented Bulldogs defensive line off the ball, the Tigers should win this game.

    Score: LSU 28, Mississippi State 24

New Mexico State, Sept. 27

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    New Mexico State is not a good football team. The Aggies only won two games last year in the Western Athletic Conference.

    LSU should have a 21-point lead at minimum by halftime. Expect Les Miles to shuffle things up throughout the game. Miles will want to test which lineups work best before the Tigers hit a brutal stretch of SEC contests.

    Score: LSU 51, Next Mexico St. 13

Auburn (Away), Oct. 4

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    Les Miles could not have asked for a tougher SEC road opener than Auburn.

    The narrative of Auburn getting lucky against Georgia and Alabama last season has gotten old. The Tigers were a talented football football team that earned its right to play in the BCS National Championship Game.

    But in 2014, Auburn might not need ridiculously good fortune to reach the inaugural College Football Playoff.

    Auburn head coach and offensive mastermind Gus Malzahn has a talented group of weapons at his disposal. Quarterback Nick Marshall, receiver Sammie Coates and a stable of talented running backs will be tough to stop.

    The LSU defense will likely be gashed in Jordan-Hare Stadium, which is expected. This means the offense must be ready keep pace.

    Led by talented safety Jermaine Whitehead, Auburn's defense will be better in the secondary than it was last season.

    The front seven took a hit in the offseason when defensive end Carl Lawson was likely ruled out for the year, but defensive tackles Gabe Wright and Montravius Adams are more than capable of replacing that production.

    LSU running back Jeremy Hill's Herculean first-half performance against Auburn last season was the main reason the Bayou Bengals were triumphant. Malzahn's Tigers will not start that slow and make that many mistakes this time around.

    The game will be close, but expect Auburn edge it out at home.

    Score: Auburn 27, LSU 21

Florida (Away), Oct. 11

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    Florida's defense will be dominant, which is expected. Defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III are arguably the best players at their respective positions in the conference.

    However, the offense is a different story.

    The Gators were putrid at moving the football last season. New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper is expected to flip the script with basically the same cast of characters.

    Traveling to The Swamp after playing in Auburn the week before will not be easy for LSU. Les Miles has only been triumphant once in Gainesville, and it took a fortuitous bounce for the Tigers to win.

    This game is perfect for those who love smashmouth football. Miles should feel somewhat comfortable with the way his offensive line pummeled the Gators last season. The biggest issue will be communication. LSU's offensive line was not as good on the road as it was at home.

    If center Elliott Porter can make the right calls, the Tigers will find a way to win the game.

    Score: LSU 20, Florida 17

Kentucky, Oct. 18

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    Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops will have an improved team after a rough two-win campaign in 2013. Stoops has made strides on the recruiting trail for the Wildcats, but the team still has a few years to go before challenging the giants of the SEC.

    LSU will face Kentucky after back-to-back road games against Auburn and Florida. Though the Tigers will have tired legs, their talent should be enough to carry them to a comfortable win at home.

    Score: LSU 31, Kentucky 14

Ole Miss, Oct. 25

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    Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has his most talented team in three years in Oxford, Mississippi. Receiver Laquon Treadwell, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, safety Cody Prewitt and defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche will all eventually be early-round NFL draft picks.

    Freeze has given Les Miles trouble in their only two meetings. Expect him to do the same this year.

    LSU struggled to develop rhythm offensively against Ole Miss last season. Defensively, the Tigers could not stop quarterback Bo Wallace through the air.

    Ole Miss will be the last of nine straight games for LSU before it gets a bye week. If the Tigers avoid injuries to key players, they should be able to take care of business at home.

    Score: LSU 28, Ole Miss 24

Alabama, Nov. 8

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    Alabama is the preseason No. 2 for a reason.

    The Crimson Tide boast the deepest roster in the SEC. Head coach Nick Saban is a legend on the recruiting trail, which is the main reason why Alabama has been college football's premier program over the past five years.

    The Crimson Tide rolled through the Tigers last season 38-17. However, LSU will not be blown out again by Alabama.

    The three previous regular-season matchups were decided by four or fewer points. Expect this game to come down to the wire.

    The key for LSU is in the trenches. Last season, the Tigers were worn down up front on both sides of the ball. Les Miles knows this cannot happen again if he wants to avoid a fourth consecutive loss to Saban.

    The lines for both teams will cancel each other out, but Alabama's advantage at receiver, running back and tight end will ultimately be the difference. Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White, O.J. Howard, T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry are all a part of Alabama's loaded arsenal of weapons.

    Score: Alabama 31, LSU 25

Arkansas (Away), Nov. 15

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    Arkansas was close to pulling off the most shocking upset in the SEC last season against LSU.

    LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings saved the Tigers with a 99-yard game-winning touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. But for the majority of the game, the Razorbacks dominated despite being a three-possession underdog.

    The Tigers will be in for a tough one again this season, this time on the hills of Fayetteville. Arkansas' running back trio of Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams and Korliss Marshall will be tough to stop. Defensively, the Razorbacks have a talented group up front ed by defensive end Trey Flowers.

    Beating an experienced SEC team in its house is never an easy task. LSU's biggest advantage will be through the air. Arkansas does not have the playmakers on the outside to make plays against a gifted Tigers secondary.

    Score: LSU 24, Arkansas 20

Texas A&M (Away), Nov. 27

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    LSU will play Texas A&M on Thanksgiving this season, which will be a first for Les Miles' Tigers.

    Playing on Thursday should not be a concern for LSU fans. The Tigers will have their second bye the week before playing the Aggies.

    Texas A&M named Kenny Hill the starting quarterback on Saturday. Hill has talented, yet unproven, playmakers Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones that he must get the ball to effectively. Head coach Kevin Sumlin should have no problem putting up points.

    Defense is a different story for the Aggies. They were last in SEC in total defense by a wide margin last season. They could be worse in 2014 after the dismissals of sophomore starters Darian Claiborne and Isaiah Golden.

    LSU will give up some points but should be able to move the football effectively against Texas A&M. Expect the Tigers to be triumphant in hostile College Station, Texas.

    Score: LSU 34, Texas A&M 27

Final Analysis

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    A 10-2 record for LSU would be nothing to frown about.

    The Tigers will have a first-year starter at quarterback and will be replacing a majority of their offensive production. Defensively, the experienced unit should be improved after an inconsistent 2013.

    Unfortunately for the Tigers, two losses would more than likely mean they will not reach the SEC Championship Game or the College Football Playoff. Nevertheless, fans at most college programs would rave at the idea of five straight seasons with at least 10 wins.

    LSU could easily drop an extra game or two it shouldn't. The team is young and Les Miles can be prone to a sluggish performances against inferior competition.

    A return to the Outback Bowl, Cotton Bowl Classic or Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl should be considered a successful season. However, some fans have grown impatient, as the Tigers have not won a national championship since 2007.

    Nevertheless, expect another entertaining and successful season under Miles.

     

    Stats and additional information provided by cfbstats.comLSU Sports Information and 247Sports. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.

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