Are the LSU Tigers still the No. 1 team in college football? I don't know, man. Nobody's played any games yet. But should they still be preseason No. 1 despite losing their most well-known and versatile player, Tyrann Mathieu?
I think so, but confidence in LSU's national title chances has plummeted due to the loss of his experienced ball-hawking and terrifying special teams skills. The Tigers are still stacked, but, as Dan Rubenstein breaks down, the championship picture and LSU's depth chart both just got a lot more cloudy (cough, cough, cloudy):
This is still a team that's believed to have improved itself at quarterback, that returns a monstrous defensive line and two very good defensive backs and an excellent kicking game, and that's recruited at an elite level for most of the past four years. Their coach is also both usually insane in a good way and often very lucky.
Despite some guffawing and chortling from Tuscaloosa and elsewhere, Mathieu absolutely contributed to LSU's excellent 2011 season in many different ways, proving himself as a threat to score from quite literally anywhere on the field. He isn't a top cover corner by any means, but he's a fierce turnover machine who completely changed several big games over the last two years. Much of his production can be replaced by a multiple-man committee at corner and at the return spots, but nobody's going to be breaking his school forced fumbles record any time soon.
While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel: