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It’s Week 5, and LSU’s transitive scores are already horrific

Getting crushed by Mississippi State and beaten by Troy are both bad signs anyway, but let’s go down a rabbit hole.

NCAA Football: Troy at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Transitive scoring is a silly thing in college football. By the midpoint of each season, it’s become a puzzle that’s impossible to untangle, with fans making cases that any team in the country could beat just about anybody else, based on who’s beaten whom.

But preseason No. 13 LSU’s transitive scores are already amazing, as of Week 5. Follow these two losses like you’re opening nesting dolls.

Lost 24-21 to Troy on Saturday night

  • Troy beat LSU by three
  • Troy lost by 11 to Boise State
  • Boise State lost by 19 to Virginia
  • Virginia lost by 17 to Indiana
  • Indiana lost by 28 to Ohio State
  • Ohio State lost by 15 to Oklahoma

LET’S GET TRANSITIVE: LSU is 93 points worse than Oklahoma. Sad!

More intermediately, LSU is way worse than Virginia. Really sad.

LSU is also 81 points worse than Penn State, based on PSU beating Indiana by 31.

You didn’t need this to tell you LSU might not be really good. But if you take LSU losing to Troy as a hint that this might not be a championship-caliber team on the level of an Oklahoma, Ohio State, or Penn State, following the losses will reinforce that notion.

Lost 37-7 to Mississippi State in Week 3

  • Mississippi State beat LSU by 30
  • Mississippi State lost to Georgia by 28

LET’S GET TRANSITIVE: Georgia would whomp LSU by 58. Goodness!

You didn’t need this to tell you LSU isn’t even the second best team in the SEC, let alone close to competing with Alabama. But again, it reinforces the idea.

Mississippi State also lost to Auburn by 39, and Auburn lost to Clemson by eight. Come to think of it, that actually looks a touch better for LSU, but anyway.

You can also discount LSU’s wins with this method.

Beating BYU 27-0 looked great at the time, for example, but then the Cougars lost by 34 to Wisconsin and by 16 to Utah State.

And that nine-point home win over Syracuse looks no less concerning, now that Cuse lost at NC State by only eight.

What I’m getting at: LSU is likely not that good.

That’s not because of the silly game we just played together. It’s because the Tigers have looked terrible in at least two of their five games. It’s also because their best win, a 27-0 romp over BYU in the opener, has looked less impressive with each subsequent BYU tanking. LSU beat Syracuse by nine at home, which was fine, but the Tigers still haven’t suggested that they can compete with, let alone beat, even middling SEC teams.

LSU has a few truly great players, like running back Derrius Guice and edge rusher Arden Key. But Guice’s 4.8 yards per rush this year are a far cry from the 7.6 he averaged last year, and injuries have dogged Key since the offseason. LSU still doesn’t have a good answer to the question, “Who’s your quarterback?”

Its season is more than a third gone, and LSU is lightyears away from being the kind of team that could win anything meaningful. Maybe that’ll change. But if it does, it’ll be a sudden departure from the anemic showings they’ve put out so far.