From the beginning of the 2011 season through the end of the 2012 regular season, the LSU Tigers had a place in the AP top 10.
Since then, the Tigers lost to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, dropped to 14th in the final postseason rankings and were recently ranked No. 12 in the 2013 preseason AP poll.
That latest ranking has to hurt the most, as it puts LSU behind five other SEC teams (Alabama No. 1, Georgia No. 5, South Carolina No. 6, Texas A&M No. 7 and Florida No. 10).
Taking nothing away from those conference foes, LSU's relative SEC ranking does not accurately reflect the strength of this team. In fact, there are reasons to think many of the perceived weaknesses that caused the Tigers to falter in the polls are actually strengths in disguise.
That's why if you're looking for a sleeper team in the SEC to challenge for the conference crown, the Tigers should be your pick. Let's look at the reasons.