Well, it’s finally summer time. The SEC summer meetings are underway. The school grind has come to an end for a few months and it’s now time to hang around the pool, watch a little baseball, play some golf, sip on a few cold adult beverages with your buddies, and start looking ahead to what is truly important: college football season.
The last memories fans have of college football season are typically used as the center of numerous jokes due to the absolutely embarrassing performance the LSU Tigers put on display during the National Championship game. Only fans of “the school that shall not be named” have memories of that last game that provide pleasurable enjoyment. (I’ll give you a hint. The school starts with A and ends with AMA and is located in the town that starts with T and ends with OOSA).
Les Miles’ Tigers look to put that early January debacle in the rearview mirror and continue with the success the team achieved throughout the 2011 season despite losing 5 key players to the NFL Draft, as well as others who signed contracts with NFL organizations as undrafted free agents. Luckily for the Bayou Bengals, stellar recruiting, an incredibly deep depth chart with players with SEC experience, a traditional quarterback, and a favorable schedule should be just enough to help them pick up where they left off before January 9, 2012.
September 1, 8, 15: North Texas, Washington, Idaho
There really is no point in discussing each of these games individually because all three are games the Tigers should win and should win very easily.
Just take a look at the statistics.
LSU football has the highest winning percentage versus non-conference opponents in the nation since the 2000-2001 season. The Tigers have won 42 of their last 44 regular season games against teams outside of the Southeastern Conference with the last loss being in 2002 at hostile Virginia Tech. Keep in mind as well that all three of these games are home games. The last time the home team in Death Valley lost a non-conference matchup was in 2000 to UAB.
Look for the Tigers to get off to a quick 3-0 start with Washington possibly giving the most trouble.
September 22: At Auburn
This will be the first road test as well as the first SEC matchup of the season for the LSU Tigers.
Last year’s contest was anything but close as LSU put on a 45-10 rout of the other set of Tigers, even while multiple playmakers for LSU were serving a team-imposed one game suspension.
The LSU defensive unit put on a spectacular show despite the absence of Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu, allowing only 248 total yards -161 passing and a minuscule 87 rushing-while also forcing two turnovers, one of which resulted in a score. The emergence of fourth string freshman RB Kenny Hilliard helped carry the offense with 65 yards on 10 carries and 2 scores. The unit as a whole accumulated 393 yards of total offense-219 through air and 174 on the ground.
The departures of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and starting RB Michael Dyer to Arkansas State, as well as unproven quarterback play, leave the Auburn football team in a world of uncertainty. While no road game in the SEC is easy, LSU should not have much of a problem handling the Gene Chizik led Tigers. LSU fans should expect a result similar to that of last season.
And let’s face it, Cam Newton will not be walking through the locker room doors anytime soon.
September 29: Towson
Seriously? Refer to nonconference statistics mentioned earlier.
October 6: At Florida
This week the Tigers head down to The Swamp to take on their SEC Eastern Division rival Florida. Last year’s contest was simply another walk in the park as LSU dominated the Gators 41-11 behind Spencer Ware’s 109 yards rushing and 2 TDs, and Rueben Randle’s 127 receiving yards and 1 TD.
This will be the second straight SEC matchup in which the Tigers will face a team with concerns on offense. Who will end up playing quarterback for the Gators? Will it be Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel? How will the offense respond to a new system with the departure of “offensive genius” Charlie Weiss to Kansas? Last year’s squad ranked 89th in passing yards per game, 73rd in rushing, and 71st in points per game. There should be some improvement, but unless something miraculous happens don’t expect too much.
As all college football fans know, playing in Gainesville is never an easy task. While the Gator offense may have struggled last year and could potentially struggle yet again this year, the defense ranked in the top 20 in various statistical categories and should continue to improve this year during defensive minded head coach Will Muschamp’s second season with the program. However, the Tigers should be too experienced and too deep for the Gators to handle. Fans should expect another “W” for the purple and gold.
This brings us to the halfway point of the season. Feel free to express your opinions on the 2012 football season in the comments section below or on Twitter @GeauxBlakeGandy.
The second half of the season preview is soon to come.
Get Primed for the 2012 CFB Season >> 2012 Pre-Season College Football Rankings – Top 25 from a Fan’s Perspective