2022 record: 10-4, 6-2 SEC
Expected returning starters: 10 offense, 5 defense, 2 special teams
Outlook: After all the concerns about whether former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly would be a good cultural fit at LSU, he proved to be what he has always been — a good football coach. The Tigers won 10 games, stunned Alabama and captured the SEC West in his first season. Quarterback Jayden Daniels will return, along with all five starting offensive linemen. Receiver Malik Nabers is a future NFL first-round pick after catching 72 passes for 1,017 yards in 2022. The Tigers will have some holes to fill on defense, but the return of defensive tackle Maason Smith from a torn ACL will outweigh any of them. Kelly dipped into the transfer portal to land Shand, Lee and Swinson to give them SEC-like depth on the defensive front. The Tigers open the 2023 season against Florida State in Orlando, and play SEC road games at Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Missouri and Alabama.
The Tigers are joined in the top 10 by SEC foes Georgia (No. 1), Alabama (No. 5) and Tennessee (No. 10). Florida State — against whom LSU opens the 2023 campaign in Orlando — ranks No. 4.
Competing for national titles in the SEC is never easy, but at this juncture, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach thinks LSU will find itself in the mix.