My long opinion (which is likely TLDR)
SEC West will be down next year with a lot of senior leadership graduating at vital positions. All of the best QBs will likely be gone as well as some VERY good Olinemen from TAMU and Bama.
- TAMU's defense will continue to struggle and without JFF and a depleted Oline may need a year to find itself.
-Bama will lose several top defenders including Clinton-dix and Belue from a below average defensive backfield (for Bama standards), and Moseley in the middle who is a senior defensive leader.
-Auburn will return the best Oline in the conference, but their defense will be swiss cheese with juniors/seniors leaving an already below average defense.
-Actually Ole Miss has a chance next year to win the west for once in a decade. LSU gets OM at home so I will give LSU the edge in that one.
-MSU is MSU and Arky is a question mark
-Florida I don't see that situation improving enough to overcome the loses of some of their great defensive players.
-LSU will likely have a solid back 7 defense and if the dline can come together will be a top 5 defense next year.
-If LSU's QB and WR play is above average and Turner stays or the younger guys fill in well, we can expect a west title IF we can beat Auburn on the road (big if).
My prediction is that LSU focuses early on a tough game against Wisky which helps the defensive front grow up quickly, and like the 2011 season will use it to propel them into a good season with a soft early schedule:
2014 LSU Football Schedule
Aug. 30 vs. Wisconsin, Houston, Texas - (50% chance depending on the dline developing against a good running team)
Sept. 6 Sam Houston State, Baton Rouge - W
Sept. 13 Louisiana-Monroe, Baton Rouge - W
Sept. 20 Mississippi State, Baton Rouge - W
Sept. 27 New Mexico State, Baton Rouge - W
Oct. 4 at Auburn, Auburn, Ala. - (50% on the road against a good Oline, but their defense will lose them some games)
Oct. 11 at Florida, Gainesville, Fla. - W (60% on the road after AU)
Oct. 18 Kentucky, Baton Rouge - W
Oct. 25 Ole Miss, Baton Rouge - W (60% at home but against a very talented team)
Nov. 8 Alabama, Baton Rouge - W (65% if at night, New QB will hate Baton Rouge. 55% day game)
Nov. 15 at Arkansas, Little Rock or Fayetteville, Ark. - W (80%)
Nov. 27 at Texas A&M, College Station, Texas - W (65% with no JFF and LSU's defensive success against most spread style Os)
Dec. 6 SEC Championship, Atlanta, Ga.
10-2 (7-1 or 6-2 in the SEC) and a trip to the SEC championship if they beat AU on the road and go 7-1 in SEC play.
I'm confident next year with another year under CC and more experience in the defensive back 7. Also easier SEC schedule next year since road games against UF, Arky and TAMU are against bad or rebuilding teams. Auburn will be a tough road trip. Bama is Bama and will be a battle, but I think LSU will win at home against a less experienced QB.
I am trying to be realistically optimistic. Of course they could have a very down year if the offense can't overcome losses at QB, RB (Hill likely leaving), WRs and La'el and Trai (if he leaves). But with Cam Cameron and Buga Nation invasion, I think LSU will be fine offensively.
This post was edited on 1/5 at 3:00 pm