There’s nothing to stir the blood of a passionate college football fan better than a hearty statistical analysis.
Oh, come on. This isn’t an IRS audit. Bear with me, please.
There is no bigger question I get over the summer than “How do you think the Tigers will do this year?” “How do you think the Saints will do this year?”
How will the Tigers do? Well, since you asked …
Coming up on a decade of LSU football under Les Miles gives the Jimmy the Greek in all of us a fair-sized mountain of data from which to predict how the Tigers will do in the future.
Seven seasons of 10 wins or more out of nine overall, an average of 10.5 victories per season means you don’t have to be the Wizard of Odds to pick LSU to go 10-3 in 2014.
Ummm, maybe. But this season threatens to defy conventional wisdom, common logic, the ever popular tea leaves.
Three HUGE factors make this the most unpredictable LSU football season in recent memory:
-- The quarterbacks are as green as a pair of saplings.
-- The wide receivers aspire to be as green as the quarterbacks.
-- The best running back in the Southeastern Conference just may be wearing No. 7 for LSU this fall — or he may not be able to find his greatness with two hands.
These areas of major concern would be enough to sink the hopes of most programs for at least a year, and they well could sink the Tigers in 2014.
My problem when it comes to prognosticating is, like Han Solo, I can imagine quite a bit.
This is how it could all go wrong for LSU:
-- Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris struggle at quarterback like the Tigers haven’t since 2008 (think Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee before giving way to Jordan Jefferson).
-- No freshmen receivers are up to the task of being major contributors.
-- Leonard Fournette, instead of being the second coming of Adrian Peterson is more of a garden variety freshman ballcarrier.
Then the Tigers could struggle to go 7-5 as they did in 2008.
This is how all the tumblers could click into place and unlock a CFP bowl-caliber season (that’s a top six bowl in the new College Football Playoff system):
-- Harris, or Jennings, or both, play quarterback with confidence and craftiness.
-- A young, strong pair of hands emerges attached to John Diarse or Avery Peterson or Malachi Dupre or Trey Quinn — even an old, strong pair of hands like those of Quantavius Leslie.
-- And Fournette makes everyone all over LSU/Buga Nation go bug-eyed at his ability to dart and weave and go all Sherman tank over enemy defenders.
If that happens, the Tigers could go 10-2.
Unbeaten? Out of the question. A lone-loss season? That’s a Powerball-like long shot. The reason is too many young Tigers are under warranty for some key piece not to fail at some critical juncture. The schedule — featuring five teams from the preseason Amway USA Today coaches’ poll (Amway?) — is punctured with too many potholes for the Tigers not to fall into one.
But whether the final victory total points closer to seven or closer to 10, I couldn’t tell you. The Southeastern Conference isn’t a league where a whole lot of youth gets served a whole lot of wins.
Then again, who among us saw Johnny Manziel coming?
LSU will go young out of necessity this season, and that is what makes this season so tantalizing, so hard to pin down. No doubt there will be weeks when the Tigers get all their acts together and produce some beautiful music.
But some game or games, watching LSU will be like fingernails on a blackboard as the Tigers try to find there way.
Either way, this will be a fascinating campaign. LSU once again has sheer talent in abundance, enough to beat anyone it faces. All those young receivers all can play. The linebackers are strong and deep. And the secondary could be the best in the SEC assuming (and we do) Jalen Mills returns to Miles’ good graces.
Excitement, frustration, elation and despair await the Tigers in 2014. It won’t be a championship season in Tigertown, but it certainly won’t be boring, either.
The blood will be stirred. You can count on that.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.