A Look At LSU’s Daunting Conference Schedule
Last week, we examined LSU’s non-conference schedule with the Cowboys Classic against TCU being the headliner. There are several headliners in LSU’s conference schedule as they have the pleasure of playing both Georgia and Florida from the East, as well as the usual suspects from the West. If the Tigers can get through this schedule undefeated or even with one loss, they will certainly be in the mix for the BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena.
Auburn at LSU: The game against Auburn’s Tigers follows three consecutive non-conference games to begin the season. Gus Malzahn returns to the Plains as head coach after one year leading Arkansas State. Auburn is coming off a disastrous 3-9 season that saw the Tigers go winless in the SEC and cost Gene Chizik his job. Expect LSU to be heavy favorites, especially since this game is being played in Baton Rouge.
LSU at Georgia: Here’s where the schedule starts to get interesting. Georgia was one play away from participating in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. Although the Bulldogs lost a lot of talent on defense, they return many important pieces on their offense including a senior quarterback and two talented running backs. As always, Mark Richt and his coaching staff do a phenomenal job recruiting so don’t expect too much of a drop-off with their defense. Sounds eerily similar to LSU’s 2013 football team.
LSU at Mississippi State: The Tigers take to the road for the second straight week and battle another set of Bulldogs in Starkville. Mississippi State has been remarkably consistent, if not spectacular, under head coach Dan Mullen. He has struggled to beat the top teams within his own division, yet manages to win between seven and nine games and go to a mediocre bowl contest year in and year out. It’s hard to envision Mullen and the Bulldogs breaking through against the Tigers due to LSU’s talent and depth.
Florida at LSU: This will probably be LSU’s second game against a top-10 team in three weeks. Although the Gators defeated LSU last season, the Tigers will be looking for a little payback in Baton Rouge. Both teams should have a powerful defense and both should have their offenses humming by the time this midseason contest arrives. Florida and LSU are counting on more consistent play from their respective quarterbacks to have a shot at a divisional and conference title. A win here could propel the victorious team toward the top of the national polls.
LSU at Ole Miss: Mississippi is everybody’s pick to upset one or more of the big three from the West (Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M). Certainly, this game in Oxford following the big game against Florida poses a risk to the Tigers. Hugh Freeze has energized the Rebels and their fans, and has recruited well the last couple of seasons. How quickly that talent develops and contributes on the field will go a long way in determining the outcome of this football game.
LSU at Alabama: This has become the annual game of the year in the SEC and in the nation. Alabama was able to escape defeat last season in Baton Rouge thanks to some late heroics by quarterback AJ McCarron and running back T.J. Yeldon. Since Nick Saban took over the Crimson Tide in 2007, he is 3-3 against his former team during the regular season. Every one of those contests was close with several being decided in overtime or the last drive of the game. It’s hard to envision this game being any different from the previous six regular season match-ups as these teams are a mirror image of each other. Pound the ball, rely on your quarterback to not turn the ball over, and play stifling defense.
Texas A&M at LSU: The Tigers were one of only two teams to defeat the Aggies last year and they did so on the road. Manziel completed just 52 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and three interceptions. LSU’s defense also held the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback to 27 yards rushing, by far his lowest output of the season. If LSU can at least halfway replicate that defensive performance and expose the Aggies’ defense, then LSU can beat Manziel and Texas A&M for the second consecutive season.
Arkansas at LSU: Much like Auburn, the Razorbacks are breaking in a new coach and playing at Tiger Stadium. Quite frankly, Arkansas’ football team gave up last season despite a fair amount of talent, especially on offense. New coach Bret Bielema won’t allow his players to quit in 2013, but his style of offense is vastly different from Petrino’s/John L. Smith’s style of offense. Arkansas may not be ready to compete with the big three just yet. LSU should be able to close the season strong and if they’re not in the running for the SEC Championship Game, then they’ll be hoping for a BCS bowl invitation.