We start today by looking at No. 25 – LSU.
Nuts and bolts
Location: Baton Rouge, La.
Coach: Ed Orgeron (third year, 15-6; 31-33 overall at Ole Miss, USC and LSU)
2017: 9-4, 6-2 in the SEC (lost to Notre Dame 21-17 in the Citrus Bowl)
Last league title: 2011
Three things to know
1. Strong D. LSU is known for its defense and this season is no different with two potential top-10 NFL picks – cornerback Greedy Williams and linebacker Devin White.
Williams and White give defensive coordinator Dave Aranda a solid foundation to build around, and the line features talent at the end spots in Rashard Lawrence and Breiden Fehoko (who sat out last season after transferring from Texas Tech).
If LSU is going to make noise in the SEC this season, it’ll be because of its D that ranked 12th last season.
2. Offensive questions. Let’s start with the good – LSU has a solid offensive line with three returning starters. That might make it easier for a new quarterback – whether it’s Myles Brennan, Joe Burrow, Justin McMillian or Lowell Narcisse – to adjust.
But, along with a quarterback competition, LSU is looking to revive its offense under new coordinator Steve Ensminger. This is a team that ranked 76th in scoring offense a season ago, and desperately needs a boost.
The biggest spark could come from wide receiver Jonathan Giles, a Texas Tech transfer who led the Red Raiders with 69 catches and 1,158 yards in 2016.
3. Hot seat. Orgeron has the dubious distinction of being the betting favorite as the “first SEC coach fired in 2018.”
Orgeron took over early in the 2016 season when LSU fired Les Miles, and has kept the Tigers competitive. They had a bad loss to Troy early last season, but ended up going 9-4 and losing to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl.
But LSU isn’t far removed from being perennial national championship contenders and that’s the expectation in Baton Rouge.
Three games to watch
1. Sept. 2 vs. Miami. LSU and Miami are headliners in one of the biggest non-conference games this season, taking place down the street at AT&T Stadium. Most consider Miami a top-10 team, but LSU has the talent to pull off an upset.
2. Nov. 3 vs. Alabama. This is one of the great rivalries of college football, and LSU fans still haven’t forgiven Nick Saban. There’s no question Death Valley will be rocking when the Tide come to town.
3. Nov. 24 at Texas A&M. Will Orgeron be coaching for his job in the season finale? What’ll be at stake for A&M in Jimbo Fisher’s first season? This game has plenty of intrigue.