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

LSU’s program is in a very different place than it was this time last year.

Brian Kelly was new to the job and faced steep roster shortages. The Tigers were preparing for what many thought would be a relatively lengthy rebuild after two mediocre seasons.

Instead, Kelly surpassed all expectations for Year 1, leading the team to a 10-4 record and an SEC West title earned by an upset over Alabama at Baton Rouge. That game was Kelly’s masterpiece as he passed Nick Saban and saw a brave decision pay off with the game-winning two-point conversion call.

LSU is bringing back many pieces from this team (and adding some intriguing new ones). This is widely viewed as a team with the potential to make the leap into college football playoff competition next year, especially in a year when SEC Georgia and ‘Bama both face significant issues, namely at quarterback.

But if that’s going to happen, it will almost certainly take another win over Alabama, this time in Tuscaloosa. It should come as no surprise that ESPN’s Bill Connelly picked this game as the game that will define the Tigers’ season.

Living in the SEC West means you don’t just have one season-defining game. That goes double for an LSU team starting the season in what might be the biggest game of the first week against Florida State. But while we can make the case that FSU is huge, or the SEC opener at Mississippi State, or maybe the regular-season finals against Texas A&M, there’s still really only one choice when you’re an aspiring SEC West contender are: Bama. Brian Kelly’s first trip to Tuscaloosa on November 4 will likely be a make-or-break game when it comes to attempting a West Division repeat, and even if the Crimson Tide faces a few more challenges and changes than normal standing, they’re still Bama, and they’ll still seek revenge.

It won’t be an easy task to beat Saban’s Crimson Tide two straight years, but the Tigers are bringing back many key figures, including the quarterback tight-end duo that won last year’s game in Jayden Daniels and Mason Taylor.

The story goes on

This fall’s rematch will largely determine what the cap is for LSU.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire