This game will make (or break) LSU’s 2023 season, according to ESPN

LSU’s program sits in a much different spot than it did this time last year.

Brian Kelly was new on the job and facing steep roster deficiencies. The Tigers were gearing up for what many figured would be a relatively lengthy rebuild after two mediocre seasons.

Instead, Kelly exceeded all Year 1 expectations, guiding the team to a 10-4 record and an SEC West title, which was clinched by an upset over Alabama in Baton Rouge. That game was Kelly’s masterpiece as he outcoached Nick Saban and saw a gutsy decision pay off with the game-winning two-point conversion call.

LSU brings a lot of pieces back from that team (and adds some intriguing new ones). This is largely seen as a team with the potential to take the leap into College Football Playoff contention next year, especially in a year when SEC powers Georgia and ‘Bama both face significant questions, namely at quarterback.

But if that’s going to happen, it will almost certainly take another win over Alabama, this time in Tuscaloosa. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that ESPN’s Bill Connelly picked that one as the game that will define the Tigers’ season.

Life in the SEC West means you don’t tend to have just one season-defining game. That’s doubly true for an LSU team that starts the season in maybe the biggest game of Week 1 against Florida State. But while we can make the case for FSU being huge, or the SEC opener at Mississippi State, or maybe the regular-season finale against Texas A&M, there’s still really only one choice if you’re an aspiring SEC West contender: Bama. Brian Kelly’s first trip to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 4 will likely be a make-or-break game when it comes to attempting a West division repeat, and even if the Crimson Tide are facing a few more challenges and changes than normal, they’re still Bama, and they’re still going to be looking for revenge.

Beating Saban’s Crimson Tide two years in a row will be no small task, but the Tigers bring back many key pieces, including the quarterback-tight end duo that won last year’s game in Jayden Daniels and Mason Taylor.

This fall’s rematch will largely determine just how high the ceiling is for LSU.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire

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