Starting 11: How Good Is LSU Edition?

Videos by OutKick

Let’s be honest, it was really hard to draw very many conclusions from this weekend in college football.

You had complete domination from the teams that Vegas favored on Saturday — favorites went 57-2 straight up — and many of these games were over by the end of the first quarter.

So what did we learn?

Not much.

Nevertheless, the Starting 11 never takes a Monday morning off, let’s dive in. 

1. Every year it seems like LSU has the most brutal schedule in college football.

The Bayou Bengals were under the radar this year, ranked the sixth best team in the SEC. But LSU has been the most impressive team in the conference so far this year.

LSU dismissed Auburn early — running up a 21-0 first half lead that Auburn never got to single digits — and cruised home to start 4-0.

Now we find out how good LSU really is.

The Tigers have eight games left on their schedule, five of which are against top 25 teams.

LSU plays at Georgia, Florida, at Ole Miss, at Alabama, and Texas A&M.


Every season’s a new gauntlet for LSU.    

2. Missouri got a massive road win at Indiana. 

Yes, it was a road win over Indiana and it was in football not basketball, but this was huge for Gary Pinkel’s program, which came into the game as either a small favorite or a small underdog depending on when you bet. 

Dorial Green-Beckham is a beast, coming into his own with a healthy James Franklin getting him the ball.

Mizzou ran up 623 total yards, the most ever given up at home in the history of Indiana football, and posted a 17 point win. 

The Tigers should be 4-0 when they roll into Vanderbilt for a big swing game for both teams. Win that game and Mizzou will be 5-0, having already equaled last year’s win total. Lose and Vandy would be 4-2, poised to strike as the second half of the season rolls on. 

Either way, I’m calling it now, Mizzou will upset either Florida or South Carolina in Columbia. (Not both, stop with those Tweets Mizzou fans).

The Tigers have a real chance to finish third in the SEC East this year, which would be a tremendous bounce back performance for Pinkel’s crew after a really disappointing SEC debut. 

3. Las Vegas would favor five SEC teams over Ohio State.

Some people believe that I’m ranking Ohio State as an SEC team just to anger Ohio State fans. That’s not true at all. I’m making the same point that I did last year about Notre Dame, namely that just because a team is highly ranked doesn’t mean it actually deserves that ranking. 

For some reason paying attention to what Las Vegas thinks is anathema to poll voters and other college football prognosticators. 

I feel differently. 

Would I rather trust the opinion of an efficient market like Las Vegas — they’re not making billions of dollars a year by accident out there — or a fat sportswriter from Toledo?

This should be a no-brainer, right?

Well, on a neutral field Vegas would favor Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, and South Carolina over Ohio State. Florida and Ole Miss would be slight — less than a field goal — underdogs. 

Last week I favored both of those teams over Ohio State in my SEC power rankings. That’s hardly a ridiculous proposition.  

This week, in the wake of the Jeff Driskel injury, I’m bumping Ohio State up to 7th in the SEC. 

Congrats, Buckeyes. 

Put plainly, if the goal of the BCS is to match the top two teams in the country — Ohio State is not a true national title contender. Oregon, Stanford, Florida State, and Clemson would all be favored over Ohio State as well. Given that Vegas isn’t a believer in Ohio State and that the Buckeyes play in the weak Big Ten, even a one-loss SEC or Pac 12 champion should get in over Ohio State.  

4. Tennessee started Nathan Peterman at quarterback and he produced one of the worst first halves in the history of college football. 

Peterman’s first half stat line?

4-11 for five yards passing, two interceptions, and one fumble. 

I’ve never seen a worst half of football at the quarterback position. 

If Tennessee had just run the ball on every play in the first half the Vols would have had a certain lead at halftime. Instead, making an awful decision in the wake of the Jeff Driskel injury, Tennessee continued to attempt passses and turned the ball over again and again.

Florida wasn’t much better in the first half, but at least the Gators had lost their starting quarterback. By the second half, as Tyler Murphy calmed down, the Gators demonstrated that the Vols were a long way off from being a decent football team.

In fact, the Vols may be an underdog in every game remaining except for South Alabama and at Kentucky. Certainly Tennessee will be substantial underdogs at Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. But I also believe the Vols will be underdogs at Missouri, home against Vandy, and at home against Auburn.

Why does this matter?

Getting to a bowl game is going to be really, really tough for the Vols this year because barring a substantial upset UT will have to win three of four against Missouri, Vandy, Auburn, and Kentucky. Right now I think it’s probable the Vols will only be favored in one of those SEC games.   

5. Wisconsin and Big Ten fans deluged Jen Bielema with #karma Tweets in the wake of Arkansas’s loss to future Big Ten member Rutgers.

Last week Bielema tweeted out #karma after Wisconsin was robbed of a victory at Arkansas State.

This week her husband’s team lost a toss-up game at Rutgers. 

That loss probably means Arkansas won’t make a bowl game for the second straight year. 

I’d say four SEC teams are unlikely to make bowls this year — Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Tennessee.  

6. Emmy interlude — you need to be watching Veep. 

It’s the funniest show on television. 

Just trust me on this. 

7. Stanford looked dominant early against Arizona State. 

And then withstood a late rally to lock in a 3-0 start.

Stanford’s schedule is pretty brutal this year as well. Still to come are top 25 games against Washington, UCLA, Oregon, and Notre Dame.

The one bonus? All of these games are at home.

Plus, if Stanford wins the Pac 12 north then the Cardinal would draw another game against whoever manages to win the south division.

Oregon’s schedule, honestly, is much easier.  

8. How good are Florida State and Clemson?

It’s really hard to tell, even as the massive game between the two teams at Clemson moves closer. 

Florida State might have played the weakest schedule in the country for a top 25 team so far.  Meanwhile, Clemson got a nice win over Georgia to begin the season and since that time has really played no one. 

But what’s coming for the future?

One of these teams should be undefeated on the final week of the regular season when Florida State will travel to Florida and Clemson will head to South Carolina. Will it be Clemson or Florida State? I have no idea. 

9. The Pac 12 is clearly the second best conference in college football. 

If the top team in the Pac 12 isn’t playing the top team in the SEC then we’ve probably been cheated by the BCS.

One thing I’d like for y’all to consider, why don’t we treat college football more like we do college basketball.

In college basketball the top teams play tough schedules and sometimes lose road games. That doesn’t stop them from being a top seed. We should be paying more attention to the quality of the conference schedule as a whole.

Again, an undefeated Ohio State against its schedule is nowhere near the same as a one loss Stanford or a one loss LSU.

It just isn’t.  

10. Here’s my top ten teams in the country based upon games that have actually been played:

1. Oregon

2. Alabama

3. LSU

4. Clemson

5. Georgia

6. Washington


8. Baylor

9. Texas A&M

10. Stanford

11. Here are my SEC power rankings — including Ohio State — for games that have actually been played:

1. Alabama

2. LSU

3. Georgia

4. Texas A&M

5. South Carolina

6. Ole Miss

7. Ohio State

8. Florida

9. Missouri

10. Vanderbilt

11. Auburn

12. Tennessee

13. Arkansas

14. Mississippi State

15. Kentucky

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions, and started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers.