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As usual, ESPN released their way-too-early top 25 after Monday’s championship game.
As expected, LSU isn’t in it, but four of their opponents are. That’s not too difficult for an LSU team that will need the schedule to give them some breaks in 2022.
Let’s take a look.
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No surprise here. Alabama is ranked first in the early top 25 and they’ll probably be there when the real one comes out in August.
By Alabama standards, 2021 was a down year. They had a young team and it showed at times. Next year, those young guys won’t be so young and Alabama might resemble the Alabama people are used to.
Bryce Young is back with a few blue-chip receivers poised to break out. Their offensive and defensive lines should both be better too. LSU gets the Crimson Tide in Baton Rouge this year, but it still might get ugly.
The Tigers season finale opponent up next
Texas A&M Aggies
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Texas A&M sits fourth in ESPN’s ranking. The win over Alabama in October was the biggest win of Jimbo Fisher’s tenure there and he’s now had time to accumulate talent.
A lot of LSU fans will roll their eyes at the Aggies being this high. They haven’t proven they can be a legitimate title contender yet and they always lose a couple of games they shouldn’t.
A&M will have talent all over, especially in the trenches, where it matters. How good they really are will depend on their quarterback play. It’s been a while since Fisher has had elite play at that position, so it’s a fair question.
LSU doesn’t play Texas A&M until the last week of the season. So much will change between now and then, but A&M could be a heavy favorite in College Station.
Next, the Battle for the Boot opponent
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Arkansas sits 20th in ESPN’s rankings. Some could even argue they should be higher.
Sam Pittman has done a great job with this program and entering his third year, he should have his team in their best position yet.
They will likely retain both coordinators and return starting quarterback KJ Jefferson. Even if they lose some at other spots, those are critical places to have continuity.
Arkansas doesn’t look as good as they did a few weeks ago as some defensive players have opted to transfer out, including Joe Foucha who will be headed to LSU.
This is still a talented team with a good quarterback which puts the Razorbacks in a position to win eight or nine games again.
What about a team from Mississippi?
Ole Miss Rebels
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Ole Miss will polarize some people heading into 2022. How someone feels about them might just depend on how much they trust Lane Kiffin.
Matt Corral was a large part of Ole Miss’ success the last couple of years. He’s now gone and Kiffin is tasked with replacing him. They didn’t look good when Corral exited the bowl game, but Kiffin will have an entire offseason to put the new guy in place.
Defensive coordinator DJ Durkin left to take the same position at Texas A&M. The Ole Miss defense this year was a bit of surprise considering how bad their 2020 was. There are no guarantees they’ll improve again in 2022.
There are a lot of possibilities for Ole Miss this season. LSU will get them at home in Baton Rouge. It could be an opportunity for Brian Kelly to get one of his first big wins.