Across the South: Is the Hype on LSU Real?

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 04: LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) scrambles out of the pocket and runs the ball as Florida State linebacker Kalen DeLoach (4) tries to stop him, during the Allstate Louisiana Kickoff game between the Florida State Seminoles and the LSU Tigers on September 04, 2022, at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire)

Every Wednesday right here you can read Across the South, where we will get into a different topic on the SEC, break down the biggest matchups of the previous week, preview the coming week’s slate, talk about where things stand in the best conference in the land, and much more! In this week’s edition, we’ll talk about the flavor of the month in the SEC West, the LSU Tigers, and whether or not the hype is real:

No matter how you feel about LSU’s prospects this season, an undeniable fact is that Brian Kelly overachieved tremendously in year one on the Bayou. The Tigers were able to win the SEC West and defeat Alabama at home for the first time since 2010. While we knew Kelly was a good football coach, nobody expected it to happen this quickly for him in the South.

But success can be a blessing and a curse. It comes with expectations. LSU now is expected to take the next step as a program this season and not only just compete in the SEC West, but compete to win a national championship. Jayden Daniels is arguably the best quarterback in the entire conference, and Harold Perkins very well may be the best defensive player in college football. LSU also brings back the electrifying Malik Nabers at wide receiver.

The Tigers lost their opening game last season to Florida State, who they face again this season in a rematch. While the game did not change the SEC standings, it did add a loss to an LSU team that was trying to make a playoff push late in the year. LSU was still alive when their playoff hopes came crumbling down with an embarrassing late season loss at Texas A&M before they were dominated in the SEC Championship against Georgia.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call LSU the favorites in the SEC West, but they are certainly the strongest contender to Alabama once again. Ultimately, the division will likely be decided by the matchup in Bryant-Denny Stadium, where before last season, LSU had fared better than they had at home against the Tide.

Another huge addition for LSU this year will be defensive lineman Maason Smith, who they lost for the season during the first game against Florida State. The only real question mark about the Tigers is the secondary, which will be heavily reliant on the transfer portal for production.

The stars are aligning for the Tigers to compete for a national championship in 2o23. Brian Kelly now has the weight of expectations upon him, and we will soon find out what he does with them.