LSU's Schedule Is a Tough Grind // SEC 2011

This is an overview. Predictions come later. Home games in CAPS.

SEPTEMBER

9/3: vs. Oregon (Arlington, TX)

9/10: NORTHWESTERN STATE

9/17: at Mississippi State

9/24: at West Virginia

LSU wins the prize for most difficult September schedule in the conference. Tell 'em what they've won, Johnny! Well, it all starts out with a fabulous trip to Arlington, Texas where they play in the plush confines of the new Cowboys Stadium. It has the world's largest video boards, a potential capacity of over 100,000 people, and the national championship hopeful Oregon Ducks waiting inside. A quick snack at home precedes a pair of true road games. The first is at Mississippi State, which could be tricky even if the Bulldogs haven't beaten the Tigers since 1999. Finally the month wraps up with a trip to West Virginia, where Dana Holgorsen's offense will be on display and the crowd will be fueled up. It's not likely, but not out of the question, that LSU could start 1-3. Even a 2-2 start would still be enough to knock LSU out of the national title race within a month of the first kick.

OCTOBER

10/1: KENTUCKY

10/8: FLORIDA

10/15: at Tennessee

10/22: AUBURN

10/29: BYE

The upshot of playing three games away from home in September is that LSU plays three of four in Death Valley in October. Fortunately for the Tigers, they miss the both East division favorites in South Carolina and Georgia. It all begins with a visit from rebuilding Kentucky. UK, in up years, has been able to push LSU more often than makes sense, but this is not an up year for the 'Cats. Next comes rebuilding Florida, who very nearly knocked off the Tigers last year. After that is a visit to rebuilding Tennessee, who would have beaten LSU in last year's game if they could have counted to 11 properly on what should have been the final play. Finally, they wrap up October a week early by hosting rebuilding Auburn before a bye. Notice a pattern? All four opponents are rebuilding in some form or another, which means this month should be manageable.

NOVEMBER

11/5: at Alabama

11/12: WESTERN KENTUCKY

11/19: at Ole Miss

11/25: ARKANSAS

Too much has been made of the angle of Nick Saban facing his former school over the years, but the Saban-Les Miles rivalry has been one of the nation's best in the span. They're 2-2 against each other, with the largest margin of victory in any game being nine. It should be a classic again this year. Western Kentucky provides the obligatory November cupcake, and a road trip to Ole Miss isn't too bad. Speaking of entertaining rivalries, Miles versus Arkansas has been a great one too. He's 3-3 against the Hogs, and the largest margin of victory was eight. It's a great way to end the season on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

OVERALL

So far I've made a big deal about how difficult schedules are in the SEC West. In fact, which West teams they face goes a long way to explaining the differences in strength of schedule for the East teams. LSU wasn't satisfied with that. It is playing Oregon in a favorable neutral site game and at West Virginia this season. The former is a better team than the latter, but the latter is a tougher environment for sure. LSU could be better than it was last year and still lose more games. Of all the tough grinds in the SEC, this one might be the toughest.

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