2011 LSU Tigers Football Predictions and SEC Futures Odds
by Darin Zank - 7/25/2011
The LSU Tigers won two BCS National Championships in a five-year span awhile back. However, it has been a tough road back to the top while playing in the best football conference in the country. In fact, since ripping Ohio State on that January night three years ago, LSU is 28-11 – which is great for most teams, but those results have not helped the Tigers get back to the SEC Championship Game, let alone the BCS.
Last year LSU had only 10 starters back, and while playing in the same division as Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas, it looked like they were headed for a middle-of-the-pack finish. But the Tigers
started 7-0, with close wins over, among others, North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida. LSU then lost by a touchdown at eventual National Champion Auburn, although they did get outgained by almost 300 yards. Then they won three more in a row, beating Alabama in the process, to creep back into BCS consideration. But the Tigers ended the regular season with a loss at Arkansas, which put an end to those BCS hopes. LSU then dumped Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl to finish at 11-2.
The Tigers struggled against the spread last season because they were consistently favored by too many points, winning five games outright in which they couldn't cover the spread. And LSU went 5-8 on the ‘over/unders,’ including 1-3 in games where the total was posted in the 50s, as Tigers games averaged 48 total points.
This year LSU has 15 starters back, the most during the Les Miles era, and they should begin the season ranked in most Top 5s. And if they can just get some improved play out of the quarterback position they will be National Championship contenders.
Miles is mentioned as a candidate every offseason for open head coaching jobs around the country, both at the college level and in the pros. He's entering his seventh season at LSU, and combined with his four years at Oklahoma State he's got a 90-38 record, 6-3 in bowls. Recruiting has not been a problem at LSU, although on-field execution at times has been. Also, the Tigers are only 14-10 in SEC play the last three seasons. And bettors should note that LSU is only 31-42 ATS under Miles.
Eight starters return on this side of the ball for the Tigers, including QB Jordan Jefferson, and four along the O-line. LSU ranked seventh overall in league play last year at 364 YPG, third in rushing at 185 YPG. But they also ranked 92nd in the nation in passing efficiency. So while Jefferson, who also ran for 450 yards last year, returns, the Tigers also have a couple of capable backups. This means the starting slot isn't necessarily settled. LSU also lost leading rusher Stevan Ridley and leading receiver Terrance Toliver. New Offensive Coordinator Steve Kragthorpe had a pretty good track record moving the ball as the head coach at Tulsa and Louisville, and it's hard to believe he won't have a positive impact on LSU quarterbacks. As for special teams, though, the Tigers also have to replace both kickers and dangerous KR Patrick Peterson.
This unit returns seven starters after ranking second in league play last year, allowing 325 YPG, but seventh vs. the run, giving up 166 YPG on the ground. The Tigers also came in third in forced turnovers and third in sacks. Four of the front seven are back, as is three-quarters of the secondary. But the loss of Peterson, who went as the first defensive back picked in the draft (No. 5 overall to Arizona), can't help but hurt.
2011 LSU Tigers Football Schedule
LSU opens with an intersectional bout with Oregon at Cowboys Stadium, then begins SEC play with a visit to Mississippi State. The Tigers then step back out of conference play for a visit to West Virginia. They continue SEC action when they get Kentucky and Florida at home, then visit Tennessee. LSU then hosts defending National Champion Auburn, and gets a week off before playing what might be the game of the year in the SEC, their big bout at Alabama. The Tigers then finish with three winnable games vs. Western Kentucky, Ol' Miss and Arkansas. So LSU has at least four tough games away from home.
2011 LSU Tigers SEC Futures Odds
One online sportsbook is listing the Tigers at +250 to win the SEC West this season and at +475 to win the SEC championship. But they'll probably have to beat 'Bama in Tuscaloosa to pull that off. Bodog is offering 14/1 on LSU to win the BCS Championship Game.
2011 LSU Tigers Football Predictions
The Tigers should be Alabama's main competitor for the West Division title, and if they win the West that puts them a conference championship game victory away from a big-time bowl, quite possibly even the BCS title game. But LSU won several close games last year, and those kinds of things tend to even out over the course of two or three seasons. And with a tough road slate, the Tigers could lose as many as four games. We'll call for nine regular-season wins for LSU this season.
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