College Football Rankings: No. 1 LSU Tigers

LSU is No. 1 in the preseason top 25 rankings. What are the five things that matter about the 2016 Tigers?

LSU has the talent … will it screw everything up?

Is LSU the best team in college football? On paper, absolutely. Does that mean the Tigers can get the job done and get by Alabama to take the SEC West, much less the conference, much less the national title? That’s a whole other issue.

Considering the program was this close to jettisoning Les Miles last year, is he really the coach who can turn it all around and win the College Football Playoff? He’s got the talent, and he’s got the schedule. It’s all in place to go into the season thinking that something special is about to happen.

And that means the pressure is on even more than last season. If the Tigers don’t at least play for the SEC title, it’ll be a massive clunker considering all the star players across the board.

Start with Leonard Fournette and go from there

Thanks to the antiquated rule that prevents players from going to the NFL whenever they want, Leonard Fournette has to play more college football. Deshaun Watson will be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft, and Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey are terrific backs, but Fournette should be the best player in college football. He’s the signature superstar who’ll be the Heisman frontrunner – or co-frontrunner along with Watson – but he doesn’t have to carry the team.

NFL ability across the board matters

LSU won’t have an epic 2017 NFL Draft like Ohio State came up with in 2016, but it won’t be all that far off with an NFL running back, NFL defensive backs, NFL receiving tandem, NFL linemen, and NFL linebackers all in place after years of building up the program and the talent level back to national title form. This is the year it’ll all pay off. However …

LSU doesn’t have an NFL quarterback

Brandon Harris is probably better than you think. He’s not going to be Drew Brees when it comes to winging it around the yard, but he has the potential to be the type of leader who just doesn’t screw it all up. Considering all the talent across the board, having a veteran under center matters – even if it’s not Deshaun Watson.

What’s going to happen?

The Tigers are going to pull it off. They’ll get by a fight against Wisconsin, and they’ll win the showdown at home against Alabama, but they’ll lose once along the way – likely against Texas A&M in an Anyone Can Win In The SEC sort of way. Nevertheless, they’ll get to the SEC title game, beat Tennessee, win the CFP playoff game, and take the national title over Ohio State.

MORE: 2016 Preseason College Football Rankings, No. 1-128