April brings to mind nice things; spring break, rainy days, and the ever popular Easter Egg Hunt. But to most die-hard college football fans, April brings to mind spring football practice and expectations of how their team will fare in the upcoming season.
LSU Football did not look like LSU Football last year. A mediocre year at best was characterized by an 8-5 record and a dismal 3-5 SEC record. The most promising note was the Peach Bowl win against No. 14 Georgia Tech, who were highly favored.
With the emergence of true freshman quarterback Jordan Jefferson, the Tigers ended the season with a dominating win over the Yellow Jackets by a score of 38-3, but more importantly, Jefferson’s leadership unified the team and brought back a swagger that was missing after going through some tough losses earlier in the year.
Now that the past is behind them, the LSU Bayou Bengals look to bring back the "Eye of the Tiger" for the 2009 season. With a new defense led by new D-Coordinator John Chavis, and the high-octane offense led by Gary Crowton, LSU should make some noise nationally if they can take care of business.
The business that is scheduled is as follows: Washington, Vanderbilt, UL-Lafayette, Mississippi St., Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Tulane, Alabama, Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss, and Arkansas; 12 Games – 12 ‘golden’ opportunities – 12 Predictions.
1. LSU vs. Washington, Sept. 5 (Away)
Although Washington went 0-12 last year under Ty Willingham, this is not an ‘In-the-bag’ win for LSU. The Huskies hired the red hot Steve Sarkisian who was USC’s Offensive Coordinator.
Sarkisian worked under highly regarded Norm Chow from 2001-04 at USC who was instrumental in coaching a highly explosive pro-style offense. Don’t be surprised to see a much better Husky team in Seattle to welcome the Tigers. With that said, look for LSU to make this a defensive statement game on national TV. LSU 42 – Washington 0
2. LSU vs. Vanderbilt, Sept. 12 (Home)
LSU will open at home at Death Valley with the new and improved Commodores. Vandy finished with a 7-6 record and a better SEC record than LSU. Vandy also had some impressive wins against very good teams such as South Carolina, Ole Miss, and a 16-14 win against Boston College in the Music City Bowl.
Vandy will keep it close in the first quarter, but LSU’s depth and athleticism will take over on both sides of the ball. LSU 35 – Vandy 13
3. LSU vs. UL-Lafayette, Sept. 19 (Home)
The Ragin' Cajuns finished 08' with a sub-par season going 6-6, but don’t let their record fool you. With LSU being the Mecca of Louisiana football, smaller programs like UL-Lafayette, typically have kids with a big chip on their shoulders for not being recruited by LSU, hence a bitterness and hunger to kill the proverbial Goliath.
The Cajuns have some big shoes to fill from last year with having to replace Sr. QB Michael Desormeaux, who rushed for 1,035 yards and threw for more than 1,800 in 2008.
They also lost four-time 1,000-yard rusher Tyrell Fenroy and receiver Jason Chery, who caught a team-high 46 passes for 656 yards and seven touchdowns. Bottom Line: LSU too big, too fast, too many athletes. LSU 41 – Cajuns 10
4. LSU vs. Mississippi State, Sept. 26 (Away)
The Mississippi State team (4-8 in 2008) will be under new coach Dan Mullen. This hire had Bulldog Nation tilting their heads like a cow does looking at a new gate. How does a New Hampshire native end-up in the land of cow bells?
Maybe that Gator magic will rub-off on the Bulldogs? Although Mullen has no head coaching experience, he may have what it takes to breathe some life into the program after working under Urban Meyer as his Offensive Coordinator for four years.
Mullen is noted as having coached some high-profile players, such as Alex Smith, Josh Harris, Chris Leak, and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
LSU beat Mississippi State last year 34-24 and it was much closer than the score may indicate. Look for LSU’s defense to be much nastier against the Dogs, and with new coaches and new schemes; should give the Tigers a big advantage. LSU 37 – Mississippi State 17
5. LSU vs. Georgia, Oct. 3 (Away)
This game will most likely be played on CBS with an early kick-off and should be the first huge test for LSU. Note: Those of us who are Tiger fans understand the hate we have for day games; it’s almost as much as we hate Nick Saban.
Well, I don’t hate Saban per se, but I do hate day games, home or away. With that said, Mark Richt’s 2008 team underachieved last year.
A 10-3 record was not what most fans were hoping for. Georgia was preseason ranked No. 1 and many had them winning the SEC and a national title.
Underachieved? Tell that to LSU who got blasted by the Bulldogs 52-38. Look for LSU to give a big heap of payback to the Dogs. The game should be close in score, but the Tigers will dominate on both sides of the ball. LSU 24 – Georgia 17
6. LSU vs. Florida, Oct. 10 (Home)
Speaking of pay-back, the Tigers will need to keep the wounds fresh coming off a big game against Georgia with having to take on the defending national champions and Sr. QB Tim Tebow and Co.
Florida dismantled the Tigers in the Swamp last year 51-21. Note: LSU fan, keep Tebow’s cell number to yourself this year and don’t bother the guy. No need to motivate him.
Key factors: Florida will be highly favored in this game but games against Middle Tennessee, Troy, Tennessee, and Kentucky, might be enough fluff to keep the Gators dull. If the game is at night in Death Valley, the place will be rockin’ and give the Tigers some extra motivation.
As much offense as both squads will have, look for an old-fashioned defensive fight. No blow-out by Florida this year but Tebow may be too much for the Tigers after a tough Georgia game the week before. Florida 31 – LSU 30
7. LSU vs. Auburn, Oct. 24 (Home)
Although this game is not typically hyped nationally as a rivalry game, the LSU-Auburn game has been as close to a rivalry as you can get without calling it one.
You have the ‘Earthquake Game’ in 1988; the ‘Barn Burning Game’ in 1996; the last second catch by LSU wide receiver Demetrius Byrd from QB Matt Flynn in 2007 that kept LSU’s title hopes alive; and last year’s come-from-behind win by QB Jarred Lee.
The LSU-Auburn game seems to always be a game with a lot of drama so it will most likely continue this year.
Auburn faithful are not too happy with the new hire in Gene Chizik. There must have been more to the story as to why Tommy Tuberville was let go. Nevertheless, the game between LSU and Auburn will still be a grudge match which may come down to who has the ball last.
However, with LSU having a bye week, it should give the Tigers an extra week to lick their wounds and recoup from the Georgia and Florida games. This game will not be as close as years past. LSU 27 – Auburn 14
8. LSU vs. Tulane, Oct. 31 (Home)
Homecoming on Halloween night in Tiger Stadium against Tulane...can you say party night? It will be crazy that night. The game should be a for-sure win for the Tigers.
Sorry Bob, you’re doing a great job down there in New Orleans, but your boys will not fare well on this night. Too much mojo happening. LSU 52 – Tulane 14
9. LSU vs. Alabama, Nov. 7 (Away)
The Tigers should be well rested for Tricky Nick’s Tide. Alabama will be without John Parker Wilson at QB this season. Star Jackson will be competing against Greg McElroy for the starting QB position.
Nick Saban has had to throw-down the gauntlet this year by suspending Sr. Linebackers Brandon Fanney and Prince Hall from the team for an undisclosed reason.
Coach Saban has publicly addressed any notion that Alabama Football has not ‘arrived’ – alluding to the arrogance of thought as to how well the team did last year and how they will do this season.
Last year was a great year, up until the end when they were beat by Utah in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama Nation is anticipating a ‘building’ year on offense and a killer defense which has nine returning starters...eight if Fanney doesn’t return?
Although this game is in Tuscaloosa, LSU will come out on top. The defenses should off-set each other and I give the nod to the Tigers for Gary Crowton coming up with a great game plan to outscheme Saban to spoil all the myopic Bama fans day. A lot of empty Tide boxes and rolls of toilet paper go to waste. LSU 17 – Alabama 14
10. LSU vs. Louisiana Tech, Nov. 14 (Home)
Okay, this game has the potential to be a let-down game due to playing Alabama the week before. The key word is ‘could’, but it will not. LSU would have to have a major Crimson-Tide hangover to throw this game away.
The Bulldogs were 8-5 last year and had a win over Mississippi State 22-14. I think that was the game that sealed Sylvester Croom’s decision to leave?
With Tech fitting into the ‘mid-major’ slipper, LSU should have a great scrimmage with Ole Miss on the horizon the following week. LSU 45 – Louisiana Tech 10
11. LSU vs. Ole Miss, Nov. 21 (Away)
The Grove will be popping and the Preacher; Houston Nutt should have his boys primed to play them Tigas’ come a beautiful fall afternoon. The Rebels were not picked last year to make as much noise as they did.
Finishing the year with a 9-4 season with a win in the Swamp against the Florida Gators and a win in the Cotton Bowl over the highly touted 11-1 Texas Tech team, has many ‘experts’ picking Ole Miss as high as No. 9 in the preseason.
LSU was stunned by the Rebels 31-13 last year and if this game has LSU with only one loss to Florida, and the Rebels with a 9-1 record (A loss to Alabama), things should be interesting.
This could be the best SEC West game this year. Look for ‘The Hat’ to do a whole lot of gambling in this game and edge out the mighty Rebels. LSU 24 – Ole Miss 21
12. LSU vs. Arkansas, Nov. 28 (Home).
It’s time for the ‘Boot’ Trophy to come back home where it belongs. The Tigers lost a heart-breaker last year to the Razorbacks 31-30. However, the Hogs are not going so wild in Little Rock.
Bobby Petrino has his work cut out for him with coming off a 5-7 season. Look for more of the same, unfortunately. With the SEC fast becoming a league of the ‘haves and the have nutts’, Arkansas has a ways to go in convincing the ‘blue chippers’ to come to Razor Nation. I wouldn’t be surprised if Petrino hasn’t sent out ‘the vibe’ for another job – it’s only a matter of time.
Look for LSU to dot their ‘eye’ and cross their ‘T’s’ for this game and put it away early. Atlanta – here we come. LSU 35 – Arkansas 17
Bottom Line: If the 2009 LSU Tigers can keep the same chip on their shoulders that is there now for how poorly they played last year, I look for the Tigers to put the pressure on the whole league and return to Atlanta Dec. 5 and play the Florida Gators for the SEC Championship Game.
SEC Championship Prediction: We’ll cross that bridge when they get there. Geaux Tigers!