Even without Tyrann Mathieu, the LSU Tigers are still title favorites with Zach Mettenberger under center.
It's weird. Fans are so confident in Mettenberger that it's borderline obscene. Why? Well, the junior quarterback has yet to face stiff SEC competition and he's already considered to be an upgrade at the quarterback position. But there's a reason for that.
No, not because Jarrett Lee had his struggles with pick six's and Jordan Jefferson's well-documented struggles with holding onto the ball. Rather, it's his God-given talent, and more specifically, his rocket launcher of an arm.
Look, you don't have to be a messiah to lead this LSU offense. There's five veterans on the offensive line and a stable of backs that are more than capable of grounding away opponents. But you do have to take care of the football and pose a threat in the passing game, and that's something that Mettenberger is able to do.
After watching Mettenberger perform in the spring game, watching him in action at the 2012 Manning Passing Academy and watching various clips of him in action at practice, Mettenberger looks to be the real deal.
Out of all the elite quarterbacks that served at the Manning camp, Mettenberger looked to have the strongest arm and his deep passes were deadly accurate. This is the missing link for LSU's offense. Having a quarterback that the coaches can trust to take care of the ball and keep defenders from stacking the box is honestly the only thing holding this team back from trampling every team it faces.
And if his 2,678 yards and 32 touchdowns with Butler Community College prior to LSU is any indication of how well he'll pass in the SEC, look out.
But still people will question him and the wide receivers until they've proven themselves. Even if Odell Beckham proved last year that he's a future star, Jarvis Landry looked good in spring and Russell Shepard attained the leadership role.
Other than that, what holes does LSU possess on offense, defense or special teams? None can be argued even if Mathieu was excused from the team and that's why having a real quarterback like Mettenberger lead this offense is a scary thought for anyone in the SEC.
But of course, the SEC is home to the greatest teams in college football. Even more so, LSU is in the same division as the two teams that won the past three national championships, Auburn and Alabama. The SEC West is also home to a Tyler Wilson-led Arkansas team.
But even though these teams are all capable of winning the SEC and upsetting LSU for that matter, they won't. LSU's defense is too solid, special teams is unmatched, running game is too ferocious, schedule is too favorable and dare I say, poses an actual threat in the passing game.