SDS Roundtable: LSU's over/under is 9.5 wins. How many games will the Tigers win in 2020?
Each SDS roundtable discussion involves the SDS staff providing individual answers and comments to questions covering a wide range of sports and non-sports topics. In this discussion, we ask the question: How many games will defending champion LSU win in 2020?
A bit of background …
Nobody has repeated as national champion since Alabama in 2011-12. Since then, Alabama and Clemson both made it back to the championship game to defend their title, but lost.
LSU will be the next to try.
Our friends at BetOnline.ag set the Tigers’ over/under win projection at 9.5. Is that too high? Too low? Our staff weighs in with how many regular-season games LSU will win in 2020.
Connor O’Gara, Senior national columnist
Over. I think LSU’s floor is higher than people realize. There seems to be a belief that the Tigers are destined to revert back to a 9-3 season with all of that turnover. I get that. But I also think they have one of the best defensive lines in America, and in an era when passing is king, they have the top pass-catcher and the top cover-man in the country. I’ll take my chances on LSU splitting those 4 SEC games vs. Alabama, at Florida, at Auburn and at Texas A&M. A 10-2 season would confirm my belief that the Tigers are yearly Playoff contenders from now on.
Michael Bratton, News editor
This is a stay-away for me. Many are predicting LSU to slide back to the pack, but I’m not convinced it happens. There’s still plenty of talent on that roster and Ed Orgeron has elevated himself into the conversation as the SEC’s best coach (keep in mind I’m talking about in 2020).
If I had to pick one side, though, I would take the under.
I’ve got LSU right at that 9.5 number as well, but when you consider the staff turnover after losing Joe Brady, switching not only from Dave Aranda to Bo Pelini but from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3 and LSU featuring a new starting quarterback next fall, losing spring football could affect the Tigers more than some others.
I’ve got LSU winning 9-10 games next season, but given the loss of spring, I’ll lean the under here.
Chris Marler, The SDS Podcast co-host
LSU, and specifically the LSU QB and LSU offense, were almost a running joke of underachievement for about a decade before last year. They return the 3rd fewest amount of production in the entire country, lost 14 players to the NFL Draft, and basically 1.5 coordinators with Dave Aranda and Joe Brady leaving.
I’m having a hard time believing that with the Tigers are getting to double-digit wins with all of that and the loss of a Heisman trophy winner with Bama, Texas and Florida on the schedule.
Chris Wright, Executive editor
How often has a defending champion failed to reach 10 regular-season wins in the following season?
I’m glad you asked.
Not often is the general answer.
In the BCS/Playoff era (1998-), only 7 national champions failed to win 10 regular-season games the following season. The most recent was Auburn, which went 7-5 in 2011 after winning it all in 2010. That matched 2008 LSU for the fewest regular-season wins following a natty. Five other teams won 9 regular-season games in the year after.
In other words, nobody falls off the mountaintop.
Not everybody had LSU’s obstacles, however.
LSU just lost an SEC-record 14 players to the NFL Draft. Its new starting QB, Myles Brennan, has thrown all of 70 career passes. His second career start will come against nationally-ranked Texas. His first road start will be at Florida. Both opponents have Playoff aspirations and LSU didn’t exactly dominate either last year. LSU could have 2 losses before the SEC West gauntlet begins.
The over/under win projection is 9.5. I can’t see the Tigers winning 10 regular-season games, but they’re not going to fall far, either. I think 9-3 or even 8-4 is much more realistic.