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Alabama's statistics are a little bit better, but given that the LSU Tigers faced Oregon and West Virginia in addition to their SEC West schedule and still allowed under four yards per play, I'll give the Tigers the edge as the best defense in the nation. Unfortunately, for the rest of college football, most of that defense will be back in 2012.
Morris Claiborne is probably headed to the NFL, but Tyrann Mathieu is back, along with seven of the top eight players on an ocean-deep defensive line that finished 2011 third in the nation against the run and 13th in the country in sacks.
Les Miles' recruiting class hasn't quite come together yet, but as always, he'll end up with a solid group by the time national signing day rolls around.
LSU has been hamstrung by a weak offense in recent years, and while the offense still won't be the strength of the team, it will be improved. Whether it's transfer Zach Mettenberger or true freshman Gunner Kiel that ends up stepping in at quarterback, he'll have plenty of experienced weapons around him.
Top receivers Russell Shepard and Reuben Randle will both be back, but the running game will be the strength on offense. Four LSU running backs received more than 50 carries in 2011—all of them were freshmen or sophomores.
The schedule is tough, as it always is in the SEC, but unlike this season, LSU has no significant challenges outside of conference play.