LSU usually opens the season ranked a little higher than 15th, but the Tigers typically don’t head into the fall with so many questions. Is Jefferson a top-level quarterback? Can the Tigers run the ball more effectively? Can the offensive line become more physical? Who’s going to help out Sheppard at linebacker? All those questions make it tough to imagine LSU unseating Alabama as the SEC West champion. In fact, conventional wisdom suggests Arkansas or Auburn – not LSU – could emerge as Alabama’s top challenger in the division. We think LSU is the second-best team in the SEC West, but the Tigers seem much closer to Arkansas and Auburn than they are to Alabama. LSU should finish the regular season 9-3 before winning a non-BCS bowl.