Can LSU Football Compete for a National Championship in 2013?

By Mark Donatiello

The LSU Tigers were closer to a National Title last season than their three-loss finish looked.  Two one-score losses to the top teams in the SEC preceded a one-point loss in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl.  If LSU was able to finish games, they would have been playing in their second-consecutive BCS Championship game.

Part of why LSU football missed out on so many close games was the nature of how the team was constructed.  The Tigers had a top defense with a strong running game, but middling quarterback play kept games close as the offense failed to put teams away.  This year, they will not have that problem again.

Zach Mettenberger finished the season strong, giving hope to the upcoming campaign.  As a major liability in an otherwise stacked LSU team, Mettenberger’s struggles crippled the Tigers in 2012.  The defense was again one of the best in college football, but the offense put them in bad situations and failed to generate enough scoring.

Mettenberger’s big games down the stretch, including a close loss to the eventual National Champions, proved that LSU has a gamer behind center.  If he develops some consistency, LSU is a title contender.

There’s rarely any reason to worry about a Les Miles defense.  In his time in Baton Rouge, Miles’ teams have been marked by suffocating defenses that carry the program.  This year is unlikely to be any different.

With stronger quarterback play and a top defense, LSU should contend in a loaded SEC.  Questions at running back could hold them back this season, but a stronger passing game should allow for a one-back system, as opposed to last year’s successful rotation of running backs.

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