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LSU Football: Why the Tigers Were Ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Poll

Ian BergCorrespondent IJune 24, 2016

LSU Football: Why the Tigers Were Ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Poll

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    LSU will start the season as the No. 3 ranked team in the country according to the AP poll released today. The Tigers are full of talent and should have an upgrade at quarterback this fall which is a big part of the reasoning behind the Tigers preseason ranking. 

    The Tigers have a very favorable schedule with only four away games spread evenly throughout the season. LSU will also play host to rival Alabama this season—something that favors the Tigers greatly while hunting for another SEC title. 

    With kickoff right around the corner, here is the reasoning behind the Tigers No. 3 AP preseason ranking.

Backfield Among Best in the Country

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    The LSU offensive backfield is loaded with playmakers this fall. 

    The Tigers return four backs with experience with Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard all ready to carry the load from the Tigers backfield. All four Tigers are dangerous and will help distribute the load this coming fall. 

    Add to the backfield Zach Mettenberger at quarterback and J.C. Copeland at fullback, and the Tigers will be extremely dangerous on offense this season. LSU has the most solid backfield in the SEC this season—a conference that is loaded with backfield talent. 

Defense Set to Be as Good as 2011

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    The LSU defense has completely reloaded this fall. 

    The Tigers were young last season and still managed to finish with the No. 2 total defense in the country—second only to national champion Alabama.

    This year, the Tigers are returning a number of key contributors the last year’s stellar season. They do lose Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu in the secondary, as well as key linebackers from last year’s squad, but the future is bright across the defense.

    LSU is known for tough defense under the leadership of John Chavis and the Tigers look to add to that reputation this coming fall. 

Loss of Mathieu Brings Concerns

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    Did the loss of Tyrann Mathieu hurt the Tigers projections in the AP preseason poll? It did slightly, but not by much. 

    No team is built around one player and the overwhelming defensive effort from the LSU Tigers is proof that one player will not kill their shot at being a championship-winning squad. 

    Mathieu was a big playmaker for the LSU defense and special teams in the past two seasons, but his cover skills left something to be desired for the Tigers defense. His loss will be felt as there is not a lot of experience to fill the void, but the Tigers should have an upgrade in coverage at his position by season's end. 

SEC West Stacked with Title Contenders

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    LSU is a part of a leading pack of title contending teams in the SEC. The SEC West has LSU, Alabama and Arkansas—who is an outside contender on the national stage. 

    Winning in the SEC West has led to multiple national title runs for the SEC, and there is nothing that indicates that changes this season.

    LSU is the early favorite to win the division and the conference, placing them near the top of every major preseason ranking system. The AP has them as the No. 3 team—one spot behind Alabama—but playing in the toughest division in the country has a lot to do with their preseason expectations. 

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