LSU Tigers 2023 College Football Preview
August 3, 2023
Record – 10-4
ATS – 8-6
The Tigers had a fine season in year one of the Brian Kelly experience as they fought hard from start to finish and won the SEC West. They booked ten wins after a really bad stretch (2020, 2021) in which they were below-.500 (11-12). LSU took the upper hand in the division after cobbling together a very impressive four-game winning streak that included triumphs over Florida, Ole Miss, and ROLL TIDE. They were no match for the mighty Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game (L 50-30) but they finished the year in fine form by ripping Purdue to pieces in the Citrus Bowl (W 63-7).
LSU Tigers 2023 Outlook
The offense took a big step forward under the guidance of QB Jayden Daniels as the Tigers averaged 34.5 PPG (#4 SEC) just one year removed from a very disappointing performance (26.5 PPG, #12). Daniels was efficient in the THROW GAME (69%, 17-3 TD to INT) and devastating with his legs (885, 11 TD), and he’s back to lead the offense once again in 2023. There are at least a pair of excellent targets that Daniels can rely upon including emerging star WR Malik Nabers (72-1,017, 3 TD) and TE Mason Taylor (38-414, 3 TD). The Tigers are comically deep at RB and they return their top-four RBs (combined 27 rush TD) and add Notre Dame transfer Logan Diggs to the mix. We expect the offensive line to be much improved as they return four starters and possess over 100 career starts amongst the group. LT Will Campbell is a phenomenal talent and a great piece to build around. This is clearly one of the best offenses in the SEC, but they’ll need to clean up the sacks (45, 38 L2Y) if they wanna get close to “elite” status.
The Tigers had trouble with the better offenses on the schedule LY but still showed improvement and finished the campaign ranked #5 in the conference in scoring defense (22.5 PPG) and #6 in total defense (355 YPG). Seven starters are retained and we expect them to make positive strides once again as they’ve got impact players at every level. DT Mekhi Wingo was a 3rd Team AA LY and he’s just one of several talented specimens in a loaded DL room. LB Harold Perkins is one of the best defensive players in the country (#3 tackler, 7.5 sacks, 13 TFL, 14 QBH LY) and the Tigers added Omar Speights who starred at Oregon St to man the MLB position. LSU will rely heavily on transfers on the back end and they made an excellent pickup in pilfering CB Darian Chestnut from Syracuse. This is obviously one of the most talented stop units in the SEC and we love their potential to create a lot of havoc. <grabs popcorn>
The Tigers were pitiful on special teams LY (#117 per Phil Steele) and we suppose it’s reasonable to expect mild improvement given that there’s a lot of continuity in the group. Punter Jay Bramblett (44.5) was decent LY and PK Damian Ramos was a MILQUETOAST performer (10-14 FG, 55-57). They could definitely use some spice at KR and PR.
Overall – Three of their four non-conference tilts are FREE SQUARES but the opener will be a tough one to navigate as they play the JUGGERNAUT Florida St Seminoles in Orlando **. They’ve gotta go on the road to face ROLL TIDE but they get Auburn, Florida, and Texas A&M in Baton Rouge. Note that their final three contests are at home which is a bonus.
** Not surprisingly, Orlando ranks #2 in the USA in terms of registered sex offenders per capita (1/143 residents). That makes sense when you consider the legion of creeps ogling your kids at Disney World. Wilmington, Delaware ranks #1 and that is also no surprise for obvious reasons.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Missouri (Oct 7)
This will be the Tigers’ 3rd road game in four weeks and they’ve got an important SEC West home game with Auburn on deck. Probably meaningless but potentially important tidbit…….LSU was 0-3 ATS as road chalk LY under Brian Kelly They also failed to cover as a neutral site favorite vs Florida St.
Season Win Total
Market consensus August 3
Over 9.5 -120
Under 9.5 +100
Slight LEANAGE to the ‘over’ as we approach press time but we’ll probably dabble in the futures market (SEC, National Champs) instead. More on that in the coming weeks. They’re one of the most talented teams in the nation but it’s never easy to win 10+ games with an SEC West schedule.
HC Brian Kelly continues to be an underrated “bet-on” head coach as he’s amassed a 128-104-7 overall ATS record (55%) which is excellent over a sample size that yuuuge. Note that Kelly is particularly deadly in the role of home dog (15-5-1, 75%) and road puppy (20-11-1, 65%). Sadly, they obviously won’t be underdogs too often this year.
Everything is in place for a run to the SEC Championship and beyond. The Tigers are loaded on both sides of the football and the only potential weaknesses we notice are on special teams and in the secondary. The schedule is tough but that’s life in the SEC, baby. They’re our PICK TO CLICK in the SEC West and we give them a reasonable shot of making the College Football Playoff. GEAUX TIGERS!