We reviewed five preseason magazines — Athlon, ESPN, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and The Sporting News — and broke down their team-by-team predictions.
Friday, we examine LSU. Here is what’s being said about the Tigers:
Phil Steele (1st in SEC West [tied] — No. 4, College Football Playoff): “They will battle Alabama for the title of nation’s top defense. The only question is at QB. None of their five away games are against a team in my Top 15, plus they get ‘Bama and Ole Miss at home.”
ESPN (1st in SEC West — No. 6, 10.5 projected wins, College Football Playoff*): “They might be talented enough to unseat Alabama in the rugged SEC West. But without a better passing game, LSU will be a long shot to roll the toughest schedule in the nation.”
*ESPN’s Top 25 rankings are based on analyst Mark Schlabach’s picks, while the bowl projections are based on analyst Brad Edwards’ picks and the division races are based on the Football Power Index; hence the discrepancies.
Athlon (2nd in SEC West — No. 9, 10-2, Cotton Bowl): “The question marks haven’t changed. The Tigers have one of the nation’s most talented rosters, but are only 9-7 in SEC play over the last two seasons.”
Lindy’s (2nd in SEC West — No. 9, Orange Bowl): “The fan base is anticipating nothing short of contention for SEC and national titles. LSU has the experience and ability to do it, but it won’t come easy against a challenging schedule.”
Sporting News (3rd in SEC West — No. 12, Outback Bowl): “If LSU can temper the predictability of what will always be a run-oriented offense, and (new defensive coordinator Dave) Aranda’s defense comes close to his level of success at Wisconsin, the Tigers will be a bona fide championship contender.”
Leonard Fournette’s Heisman standing: No. 2 (Athlon — “One of the most physically impressive running backs of the past decade…”), No. 3 (Phil Steele — “LSU is a national title contender mainly because of him … the offensive line is better this year”), No. 3 (Sporting News), No. 3 (Lindy’s — “We’ve gone 16 consecutive seasons without a non-Alabama running back winning”), No. 4 (ESPN — “The Tigers will have to throw the ball more effectively”)
Preseason All-American selections: Leonard Fournette (1st, unanimous), Jamal Adams (1st, unanimous), Malachi Dupre (2nd x1), Kendell Beckwith (2nd x2), Tre’Davious White (2nd x2, 3rd x1), Arden Key (2nd x1), Travin Dural (3rd x1), Ethan Pocic (1st x1, 2nd x1, 3rd x1), Davon Godchaux (3rd x1)
Preseason All-SEC selections: Leonard Fournette (1st, unanimous), Ethan Pocic (1st, unanimous), Jamal Adams (1st x4), Davon Godchaux (1st x1, 2nd x1, 3rd x1), Kendell Beckwith (1st x2, 2nd x2), Tre’Davious White (1st x3, 2nd x1), Arden Key (1st x1, 2nd x1), Malachi Dupre (2nd x2), William Clapp (2nd x2), Maea Teuhema (2nd x1, 3rd x1), Travin Dural (3rd x1), Blake Ferguson (3rd x1), Brandon Harris (3rd x2), Lewis Neal (3rd x1, 4th x1), Derrius Guice (4th x1)
- ESPN spoke with an anonymous coach who chastised the Tigers’ passing game: “Truth be told, if (Harris) could complete a pass consistently, they’d kill everybody, because receivers are running wide open on every play-action fake.”
- ESPN’s Football Power Index indicated LSU will be favored in every game this season, with the toughest matchup coming against Alabama (still a 69 percent chance of victory).
- Sporting News named LSU the SEC’s most “underrated” team, saying, “Much depends on Brandon Harris’ ability to throw the ball on critical downs, but if he can, Leonard Fournette’s Tigers have all the ingredients for a championship run.”
- Athlon spoke with an anonymous coach who said LSU’s issues run deeper than the quarterback position: “Don’t get me wrong, that’s been an issue, but I look at their defensive line, too. You look at them the last few years and then you look at Alabama, and it’s like, ‘Wow, they don’t even compare anymore.’”
- Lindy’s named defensive coordinator Dave Aranda the No. 3 hottest assistant in the country: “The next big thing at LSU after the loss of John Chavis and Kevin Steele in consecutive years. Go back and look at the numbers of his Wisconsin defenses.”
- Athlon ranked Aranda No. 3 in its “Coaches on the Rise” feature, with only Houston coach Tom Herman and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley ahead of him.
- Lindy’s named Les Miles as its No. 3 hot-seat coach: “It wouldn’t shock us if he won the 2016 national title and was the 2017 Mardi Gras king. And we wouldn’t be blown over if he won, say, just eight games and all of Louisiana chipped in to buy itself a big helping of Jimbo Fisher.”
- Athlon named defensive end Arden Key one of its 15 “Breakout Players” across the country.
- Phil Steele named LSU’s running backs and defensive backs the best in the country, saying Tre’Davious White and Jamal Adams could follow in Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne’s steps as Jim Thorpe Award winners.
- Lindy’s called the opener vs. Wisconsin the nation’s No. 5 non-conference game this season.
- Phil Steele ranks teams using nine different power polls, and said LSU went unbeaten in five of them.