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It doesn't take long for a college football program to go from hunter to hunted. The LSU Tigers are about to find out.
After years of trying to usurp Alabama in the SEC, the Tigers completed their mission last season. They ran the table en route to a 15-0 record, conference title, and national championship behind a Heisman-winning quarterback and a record-setting offense.
However, the 2020 version of LSU will look a whole lot different. Will the Tigers answer the bell?
Let's dive into their win total for the upcoming season.
LSU was about as dominant as you could ask for last season.
Quarterback Joe Burrow set the FBS single-season record with 60 touchdown passes. The program finished No. 4 in the country in average scoring margin per game (+24.8).
There's usually some luck involved for a team to go 15-0. LSU - which had a second-order win total of 14.2 - was slightly fortunate after going 3-0 in one-score games.
However, all three victories came against top-10 teams at the time. I'd rather applaud the Tigers for coming out on the right side in a couple of coin flips than punish them for close victories.
Programs such as Alabama and Clemson don't have to worry about returning production; they can just recruit and reload on an annual basis. LSU has had some strong cycles under head coach Ed Orgeron, but he doesn't have that type of luxury yet.
That makes me worried about the Tigers, who will be one of the least experienced teams in the country this season. Only three other clubs return fewer starters from 2019 than LSU, which lost 16 players to the draft.
|4||vs. Ole Miss|
|5||vs. Nicholls State|
|8||vs. Mississippi State|
|11||vs. South Carolina|
|13||@ Texas A&M|
If returning production is a problem, the schedule is a boost. LSU plays the SEC's fourth-easiest slate and is No. 46 in strength of schedule, nationally.
LSU should be 4-1 through its first five games, if not undefeated. A trip to the Swamp against Florida in Week 6 will be a test, but the Tigers should be fine the following two weeks against Arkansas and Mississippi State.
I've been tough on LSU in every buy/sell piece or title preview. I have to reiterate: I'm not fading the Tigers just to be contrarian.
I see obvious flaws in an inexperienced team that plays in the toughest conference in football. Almost every single piece of last year's vaunted offense is gone, including Joe Brady - the mastermind behind all of it.
There's going to be infinitely more pressure on the program now that it has a target on its back. The Tigers are not legitimate title contenders in a deep SEC, which will keep them from double-digit wins.
(Odds source: theScore Bet.)
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.