Top 25 Countdown
No. 11 Louisiana State
• Last Season: 8-5 (defeated Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl).
• Returning Starters: 13 (7 offense, 6 defense).
• Key Game: at Mississippi, Nov. 21
Why They're Worth Watching
Scoring points should not be much of an issue for this squad. The Tigers return senior running back Charles Scott, who recorded the fifth-best single-season rushing total in school history and 18 touchdowns last season, and senior wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who has led LSU in receiving in each of the past two seasons, tallied eight touchdowns in 2008 and is on the watch list for the Maxwell Award as the nation's top player. Those two, in addition to a sturdy offensive line led by three-year starter Ciron Black, will aid the development of sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who earned two starts last season and was named offensive MVP of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Player to Watch
Charles Scott, Sr., RB
Scott tallied 1,174 rushing yards last season and has the potential to compile an even larger total this year. Behind tackles Black and Joseph Barksdale, Scott should not have difficulty finding holes through which to run.
Why They're Vulnerable
The Tigers have brought in three new defensive coaches, and for good reason -- none of the team's defensive components were particularly strong last year. New defensive coordinator John Chavis, who spent the past 14 seasons serving in the same role at Tennessee, has considerable work to do to rebuild a once-dominant unit, but he has plenty of high-quality parts at his disposal. He already has moved strong safety Harry Coleman, who led the team with 71 tackles last season, to outside linebacker. LSU's Southeastern Conference schedule is daunting, with trips to Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss.
-- Steve Yanda