Will anyone slow down Alabama’s reign at the top? Can Florida shake off preseason disrespect to challenge for the East? So begins @MrPalmettoSDS’s two-week, daily series with a look into the crystal ball on how each of the Southeastern Conference’s 14 programs will finish this season.
AT A GLANCE
Aug. 2: Kentucky
Aug. 3: Auburn
Aug. 4: Tennessee
Aug. 5: Mississippi State
Aug. 6: Mizzou
Aug. 7: Ole Miss
Aug. 8: Vandy
Aug. 9: Arkansas
Aug. 10: Florida
Aug. 11: LSU
Aug. 12: South Carolina
Aug. 13: Texas A&M
Aug. 14: Georgia
Aug. 15: Alabama
LSU TIGERS (10-3, 6-2 in 2012)
Related: Why LSU is must-watch in 2013
THE 2013 BATTLEFIELD
Aug. 31 vs. TCU *Arlington (W) = The Tigers seem to perform well in national spotlight games against out-of-conference competition. Expect no less when they pounce on the Horned Frogs.
Sept. 7 vs. UAB (W) = Jeremy Hill or not in Week 2, LSU could still manage a 300-yard rushing total against the Blazers without its best ball-carrier.
Sept. 14 vs. Kent St. (W) = Zach Mettenberger continues his stretch without a pick to start the season and LSU’s wideouts make a number of exciting plays matched up with a weak Kent St. secondary.
Sept. 21 vs. Auburn (W) = We’ve already mentioned that Auburn will be much-improved under Gus Malzahn, but not deep enough to challenge LSU — at least not this season.
Sept. 28 at Georgia (L) = This is Georgia’s toughest game of the year and one the Bulldogs would have to lose for South Carolina to have a shot in the East. LSU becomes a Gamecock fan’s “other” favorite team this weekend.
Oct. 5 at Miss. St. (W) = Danger zone. The Tigers find a way to ruin the perfect grounds for an upset in Starkville. Patience continues to wear thin for Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs’ ineptitude against ranked teams.
Oct. 12 vs. Florida (W) = LSU’s defense will be pinning its ears back against a one-dimensional offense. The first one to 14 points win this game.
Oct. 19 at Ole Miss (W) = The second of consecutive dangerous games, the Tigers need not take Robert Nkemdiche and the Rebels lightly, especially in front of what will be a raucous crowd in Oxford.
Oct. 26 vs. Furman (W) = Poor Paladins.
Nov. 9 at Alabama (L) = Pregame speech from Les Miles: “We control our own destiny to the Georgia Dome and beyond. Win these next two games and the sky’s the limit for us.” It’ll take more than that, Mad Hatter.
Nov. 23 vs. Texas A&M (W) = Johnny Manziel or not, LSU’s attacking defense puts the clamps on A&M in a likely night game at Tiger Stadium. A loss here for the Aggies takes them out of BCS title contention and clinches Alabama’s spot in Atlanta.
Nov. 29 vs. Arkansas (W) = The post-Turkey Day lull usually makes this game closer than it should be. LSU shouldn’t have any problems putting away the Razorbacks early this fall, however.
PROJECTED FINISH: 10-2, 6-2 (2nd in the West)
Related: LSU is underrated this year
THE SKINNY: Miles never gets enough credit. LSU is in the BCS conversation every season, yet it’s relatively quiet nationally during the preseason with West power Alabama dominating the college football landscape. You know what you’re getting when the Tigers play on Saturday — a physically-dominant team that makes enough plays to keep you honest in the passing game and pounds the opposition in the trenches. Ho-hum, LSU wins 10 games in the regular season again this fall and has to fight the “do we want to be here” battle as it did last year against Clemson in a non-BCS bowl game.
Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports