Can Brian Kelly get LSU back to an SEC contender in 2022? Or will the Tigers need a year under Kelly to figure it out?
The 2021 LSU Tigers were nothing short of mediocre. After a 10-3 season in 2018 ending in a Fiesta Bowl win and a perfect 15-0 season in 2019 ending in a national title win, the program went 5-5 in 2020 and 6-7 in 2021. Fast forward to now, Ed Orgeron is gone and in steps a head coach with quite the resume, Brian Kelly. Kelly brought in a relatively successful recruiting class to assist him in his first year. The only questionable positions are the linebackers and offensive line but even those positions can perform well despite the question marks.
So, how will Brian Kelly’s team do in 2022? It is a coin flip because most first-year coaches do not go out and win it all. That being said, Kelly is more experienced than most coaches so the ceiling is higher than usual. However, the question marks on the roster could be the downfall for LSU and lose them some key games. With all of that, let’s check out the 2022 LSU Tigers schedule.
Week One, “Neutral Site” vs Florida State
If LSU wants to return to a contender level, you open the season with a tough non-conference game. Well, the Tigers do just that with a neutral site game against Florida State. I say neutral site but the game is in New Orleans at the Caesars Superdome so it might as well be a home game. Florida State might not be the elite program they were when Jameis Winston was their QB but they should not be written off as a “blowout game”.
However, Florida State has not beaten an SEC opponent since 2017 and Brian Kelly has not lost an opening game since 2016. LSU is the better team in every way but Florida State will not be pushed around. This will be a close game but LSU still wins it with their talented roster.
Score Prediction: LSU 28, Florida State 21
Week Two, Home Game vs Southern
Week two is a much easier non-conference game with Southern in town. This game will be nothing more than a “tune-up game”. The Tiger’s starters will be done by halftime and the scoreboard will be one-sided in LSU’s favor. Do not worry about an upset here, just watch the first few drives and turn it off if you decide to watch the game.
Score Prediction: LSU 56, Southern 3
Week Three, Home Game vs Mississippi State
Conference play begins in week three with Mississippi State visiting Baton Rouge. Here is where we see why the Tigers might need a full season under Kelly before being contenders in the SEC again. This is a high-powered Leach team getting their first look at the Brian Kelly LSU Tigers.
The last time the Bulldogs played in Death Valley, former quarterback K.J. Costello passed for an SEC-record 623 yards and five touchdowns. The Bulldog’s veteran QB in Will Rogers is a budding superstar and is more than capable of replicating that performance but I do not see that happening. Give me the Bulldogs to get a big win on the road and prove they can win big games in the SEC.
Week Four, Home Game vs New Mexico
Week four has the Tigers back in non-conference play with New Mexico up next. New Mexico has not been relevant in its own conference since 2016. I do not see this game being close either and once again the Tigers starters will be done by halftime. Tigers win this one big and begin prepping for conference play to fully begin in week five.
Score Prediction: LSU 48, New Mexico 14
Week Five, Away Game vs Auburn
Auburn gets their first look at the Brian Kelly LSU program in week five. If Auburn is coming off a two-game losing streak, this might be a must-win for coach Harsin. LSU is one of the winners of the transfer portal this offseason and Auburn is one of the losers so far. That is not what this Auburn Tigers program needs five weeks into the year and LSU will win this one comfortably.
Week Six, Home Game vs Tennessee
The first big conference test of the 2022 season comes in week six with the Volunteers in town in week six. Tennessee has the pieces to also be a threat in the SEC East. By this point, the Vols will have some sort of momentum especially if they beat Florida the week before. However, a road trip to Death Valley still seems like too much for this Vols team. The Vols have not beaten LSU since 2005 folks. Give me LSU to defend their home turf and end Tennesse’s winning streak.
Week Seven, Away Game vs Florida
The Tigers go on the road in week seven to take on a stingy Gators squad. While Florida’s Anthony Richardson is the better quarterback, LSU does bring in Jayden Daniels to boost their offense at QB. If this game was in Death Valley I would easily take LSU. However, I think the Gators will take advantage of this big home game and take down LSU before they fully get back to winning SEC titles.
Week Eight, Home Game vs Ole Miss
Week eight will be a fun one with the Ole Miss Rebels up next and I would circle this game on the calendar. This Tigers program has to find their identity first much like Ole Miss and that is what will make this game interesting. Two teams looking to return to double digit wins and much more.
Unfortunately, I think the Tigers hand the Rebels their first loss of the season. Brian Kelly will have his roster figured out and be able to defend Death Valley. This will be a game that comes down to a game winning score and the Tigers will be the team with that score.
Week Nine, Home Game vs Alabama
After a tough game against Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide arrive and this will be a big game for the Tigers to prove themselves. The Tigers having a transfer QB starting along with the rebuild is music to Alabama’s ears. That being said, Alabama will take advantage of the LSU rebuilding roster before they catch their footing. Tide takes this one with big performances across the board.
Week Ten, Away Game vs Arkansas
Brian Kelly and company go back on the road in week ten to take on the Razorbacks in Fayetteville. The Tigers might not be at the Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase level but they will be catching their stride by week ten. Arkansas cannot step off the gas late in the year but LSU is going to be far better than last year even with this game being in Fayetteville. But I have a weird amount of faith in the Razorbacks to defeat the Tigers and continue their own win streak.
Week Eleven, Home Game vs UAB
The final non-conference game of the year for the Tigers is a matchup with UAB in Baton Rouge in week 11. UAB was one of the best Group of Five last season which is big for them after being reinstated in 2017. However, the Blazers have gone 0-4 against SEC opponents since their reinstatement in 2017, getting outscored 163-41 in those matchups. Tigers win this one comfortably and show why Group of Five teams are not SEC teams.
Score Prediction: LSU 38, UAB 14
Week Twelve, Away Game vs Texas A&M
The final game of the year for LSU is a huge matchup against Texas A&M in College Station. LSU is 8-2 against the Aggies since they joined the conference in 2012, but only 2-2 in the matchup since Jimbo Fisher took over for A&M. There always has to be an unneeded home loss somewhere for the Aggies and here it is in week 12.
A&M is going to be a CFP team if they win enough games and LSU will play spoiler here in week 12. This will only be the Aggies second loss of the season and it will depend how the other CFP spots line up for the Aggies to have a shot at that coveted SEC title and national title.
Final Record For LSU Football In 2022-23: 8-4 (4-4)
I want to take the safe bet here that LSU is not going to be quite there yet in Brian Kellys first year. An 8-4 record in the SEC West is respectable for a first year coach. This program is on the rise and Kelly will have no problem getting them back to contention. Give them a year to build up their chemistry and in 2023, this team could be back in the SEC title game if not the CFP.
Which SEC team will improve the most in 2022? Comment below and join the discussion!
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