This LSU football season has shown promise considering the major reconstruction of the program with new head coach Brian Kelly.
The team opened the season with a 23-24 loss to Florida State due to a missed extra point that would have sent the game to overtime. Then, the Tigers traveled back to Baton Rouge to face Southern. This game was trouble-free for the Tigers, as they walked away with a 65-17 victory.
Week 3 was a challenge, though, as they faced the undefeated Mississippi State Bulldogs, led by quarterback Will Rodgers, and their explosive offense. The Tigers started slowly, and it stayed that way through three quarters. Trailing 10-16 heading into the fourth, the Tigers were desperate for a big drive. They got that and more, with a 3-yard Jayden Daniels touchdown run to give the Tigers their first lead of the night. LSU punched in two more touchdowns that quarter and outscored the Bulldogs 21-0, finishing with a convincing 31-16 win. Late-game surges will become a theme for the team. At this point, the Tigers are 2-1.
The following week, the Tigers took care of business for the third straight game with a convincing 38-0 win over the New Mexico Lobos.
The next game on the schedule was bound to be a tough one for LSU, however, as they marched into Jordan-Hare Stadium to face the Tigers of Auburn. The team started slowly again, going down 0-17 with 9:38 left in the second quarter. A big play was needed for LSU. They succeeded by getting a big scoop and score touchdown, followed by a Jayden Daniels touchdown run. In the second half, LSU had a stifling defense, holding Auburn to 0 points while scoring a touchdown of their own to take the 21-17 victory.
In week 6, unfortunately, it was a different story for the Tigers. They were ranked #25 in the AP Poll going into the game and hosted the undefeated #7 Tennessee Volunteers. From the jump, this one got out of hand for LSU. Tennessee completely dominated in a 40-13 victory over the Tigers. This made fans worried and the media concerned, but the Tigers put that all to bed with an impressive win in Gainesville; LSU rebounded with a 45-35 win over the Florida Gators.
This impressive win propelled the Tigers to a 5-2 record on the way to face the #7 Ole Miss Rebels in Death Valley for the LSU Homecoming game. The Tigers did not look good at the start, as the Rebels took a 17-3 lead with 14:57 left in the second quarter. They started to pick things up with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Jayden Daniels to Jaray Jenkins. They scored another touchdown with a 3-yard run from Daniels while giving up a field goal afterward. Down 17-20 at halftime, the Tigers were looking for some light going into the second half. They noticeably found that, outscoring Ole Miss 28-0 in the second half and taking the 45-20 win over the Rebels.
Along with a 6-2 record and being ranked #10 in the CFP Poll, LSU football has gotten a lot of attention lately as being “pleasantly surprising.” Fans are mostly happy with the program’s direction, though some fans believe this season has been somewhat of a letdown. Although the team is having a great season, I think that it’s critical to understand that LSU is in somewhat of a reconstruction process with a new head coach and with recruits coming in from all over the country.
Brian Kelly, to date, has the 7th best recruiting class for 2023, according to 247 Sports, bringing in a total of 23 commitments, with 18 being 4-star recruits and the other five being 3-star recruits. LSU is also waiting for a commitment from 4-star cornerback Javien Toviano.
Kelly also had the 12th best recruiting class in 2022, bringing in six 4-stars, eight 3-stars, and a colossal five-star signing, linebacker Harold Perkins.
Other than recruiting, Kelly has shown his determination to be the best team in college football and win a National Championship by signing an extended, 10-year $95 million contract; he’s here for the long run, and that stability is precisely what LSU needs.
It’s important to note that LSU has had only two coaches stay with the program for ten years or more. These coaches were both very successful; coach Charles McClendon appeared in six New Year’s Six Bowls during his time at LSU from 1962-79. Recently, LSU legend Les Miles, who served as head coach from 2005-16, pulled in a BCS National Championship (2007) and won two SEC championships while never missing a bowl game. All this proves how long term coaches can impact a program and bring winning to the front line.
Kelly also shows some winning evidence of his own. Kelly spent time with Central Michigan (2004-06), Cincinnati (2006-09), and Notre Dame (2010-21), and now he has been with LSU for the past ten months. In all of this time, Kelly is 172-64 in his career and has the most wins for any active college football coach.
On the other hand, Kelly has never won a championship, but he appeared in the BCS National Championship in 2012, losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide. It is evident that Kelly can make a championship very possible for the Tigers, but he will have to defeat Alabama to get there.
The Tigers are now preparing for their pivotal match up vs #6 Alabama during the team’s bye week.
I am excited about this journey as an LSU fan and can’t wait to see where this program goes. I predict the Tigers to finish the year 9-3 and win multiple championships under Kelly.