Searching for wins
Over the summer, there has been plenty of doom and gloom hanging over the LSU football program that isn't usually there leading up to a season opener.
Plenty of different variables have contributed to this.
There was the heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame the Tigers suffered in their bowl game. There was the lackluster performances by their pool of quarterbacks in the spring game.
There was the swings and misses at signing a highly-ranked cornerback like Patrick Surtain, Jr. in the 2018 class.
Of course, there was also the emergence of SEC teams around them as they brought in top-tier coaches. Florida's hire of Dan Mullen and Texas A&M's acquisition of Jimbo Fisher instantly created bright futures for those schools and much more competition for LSU.
But the thing that has brought the most negativity for the fanbase heading into the season has been the view of the torturous schedule that awaits them. It's ranked by 247sports as the fifth-toughest schedule in the country.
When you take a look at it, it does become quite hard to remain optimistic.
Look, I think LSU has a talented team. I think talent-wise, they have nine or 10 wins written all over them.
They bring back a solid offensive line, they have a talented, deep receiving corps, and though there's no Leonard Fournette or Derrius Guice in the backfield, I think their running game will still be decent.
We don't know much about Joe Burrow at quarterback, but the bar isn't exactly set that high.
Defensively, they'll have one of the better front sevens in the SEC, and though the secondary is a little thin this season, they still have one of the top cornerbacks in the country in Greedy Williams. They still have Dave Aranda pulling the strings.
That said, it still looks unlikely that LSU can win nine games with that schedule.
I mean, in their very first matchup, they're in Arlington, Texas, playing a tremendously-talented Miami team.
The Hurricanes lost some key pieces from a squad that reached the Orange Bowl last year, but they still have a fierce defensive line, and they bring back starting quarterback Malik Rosier.
Just two weeks later, they're on the road playing Auburn, a team with arguably the best front seven in college football and the conference's top returning quarterback in Jared Stidham.
LSU hasn't beaten them at Auburn since 2012. Even then, they barely survived a Tiger team that went on to finish a putrid 3-9.
Two weeks after that, they're at the Swamp playing a Florida squad that is expected to be much-improved under Mullen.
LSU has had some sustained success against the Gators in Gainesville in their past few trips, but the wins haven't come easy. Their last three victories there have come by a combined eight points.
A week later, they're facing a loaded Georgia team. Even playing in Tiger Stadium, they'll most likely be big underdogs against last year's national runner-up.
They won't get a chance to catch their breath. The next week, they're hosting a Mississippi State squad many are predicting to be an SEC dark horse.
The Bulldogs bring almost everyone back from a team that beat LSU by 30 last season. And by the way, they come into this year's matchup fresh off of a bye.
While LSU is putting everything they have into a matchup against Georgia, Mississippi State will be resting at home.
After the game against the Bulldogs, LSU will get their week off, but when they return, they're at home against defending champion Alabama. I hate to remind you, but the Tigers have lost seven straight in this series.
Things will slow down the next two weeks as they play Arkansas and Rice.
However, in their final game, they're on the road against a Jimbo Fisher-led Texas A&M squad. I have no doubt the Aggies will see drastic improvements under Fisher.
LSU has beaten them seven times in a row. You have to figure the law of averages is going to start kicking in one of these days.
There you have it, an absolute minefield for LSU in 2018.
If the Tigers had the same schedule as they did last season, then sure, I'd like their chances. I could definitely seeing them winning nine regular season games once again.
With this 2018 schedule they have staring them down, I'd be thrilled if they win eight.