LSU leads teams with toughest starts 

August, 29, 2011
08/29/11
4:59
PM ET

No one in football is more unpredictable than Les Miles. The LSU coach has become legendary for daring decisions. The man is great drama. Still, you know he didn't want to go into a huge opener in Texas against an explosive Oregon team without starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and his most dangerous skill player, wide receiver Russell Shepard.

The Tigers, in many folks' preseason top five (including my own), are feeling a little shakier given all of the off-field stuff surrounding the team. I still think LSU has enough talent on both sides of the ball to be a top 10 team, but they are staring down a pretty dicey opening month: Oregon in Arlington, Texas; Northwestern State, and then a trip to Mississippi State on a Thursday night, all before ending September with a visit to play an explosive West Virginia team.

Coming off an 11-2 season, Miles is in a much more stable place than he was at this point in 2010 and that bodes well, even if his team stumbles early. Still, these Tigers qualify as one of the more volatile teams and will have a very revealing opening month.

Building momentum is obviously important for teams expecting to make a run at a BCS bowl. It's even more crucial for programs with coaches entrenched on the hot seat. Want proof: look at how things deteriorated for Miami and Randy Shannon after their turnover-filled loss at Ohio State or Clemson after a rough start for Tommy Bowden in 2008.

Here are the other teams with the most tenuous first month:

Georgia Bulldogs


To read Bruce Feldman's full take on the toughest starts to open the season, become an ESPN Insider.

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