LSU will be spending a lot of time at home in 2012.
This is an overview. Predictions come later. Home games in CAPS.
9/1: NORTH TEXAS
9/22: at Auburn
This week's schedule evaluations feel much different because LSU and Alabama are the two bogeymen whose presences (and the circumstances surrounding them) go a long way to determining how tough everyone else's schedules are. Anyway, this is a far nicer way to start the season than what LSU had a year ago with eventual Pac-12 champ Oregon in Dallas and a trip to eventual Big East champ West Virginia. Four games are at home, and the road game is not against a conference contender. Washington is not a bad non-conference opponent anymore, and the Tigers do get partial credit for having gone to Seattle already as a part of the series. With that said, anything other than 5-0 will be a shock.
10/6: at Florida
10/13: SOUTH CAROLINA
10/20: at Texas A&M
This is a very intriguing month for LSU. The trip to Florida is no guaranteed bloodbath like last year's game was. LSU hasn't had a comfortable win in Gainesville since 2002, and in 2010, an 11-2 Tiger squad needed a fourth down conversion on a fake punt that succeeded by about an inch to knock off a far inferior Florida squad. This year's Tigers will be better than those of two years ago, but the same is true of the Gators. The visit from South Carolina is another tough one, though it's as much a test for the visitors as anything. At South Carolina, Steve Spurrier hasn't won a road game against a West division opponent outside the state of Mississippi since taking down Arkansas in his first year. Going on the road to reignite the on again, off again rivalry with Texas A&M will make for a wild environment, and LSU's highly touted secondary will get a tough test.
11/10: MISSISSIPPI STATE
11/17: OLE MISS
11/23: at Arkansas
LSU is one of just three SEC outfits, along with the Mississippi schools, to finish the season with four consecutive conference games. In this case, it's a very rough way to end the season. The Alabama game could very well be the divisional tiebreaker again, and it's good fortune to go into it off of a bye. Mississippi State sometimes gives LSU more troubles than it should; it was the only team last year besides the Tide to hold the Tigers under 30 points. The Magnolia Bowl won't be too much trouble, but the Battle for the Golden Boot should be a great one to watch. It's been the most consistently exciting series in the SEC over the last half decade-plus, so make sure to get it on the TV as you snack on your turkey leftovers.
All in all, this slate is not too, too bad. A trip to Washington might have been tricky, but it shouldn't be too bad in Death Valley. Only four road games await, and the most important game of the season is at home. It's not easy by any stretch, but it easily could have been worse.