LSU Proves Its Bona Fides as a Bye Ninja. But Will the Strategy Work? | SEC 2013

USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers go all-in on a very innovative bye arrangement. As long as it doesn't backfire on them, it will end up looking like a great idea

This is an overview. Predictions come later.

8.31.13 | vs. TCU (Arlington)
9.7.13 | UAB
9.14.13 | KENT STATE
9.21.13 | AUBURN
9.28.13 | at GEORGIA

Well, there's about as schizophrenic an opening month as you could come up with -- which somehow feels absolutely like the kind of first month that LSU should have. A consensus Top 20-ish team, then two games against mid-major teams of various quality and then a home game against Auburn, which will be on the road for the first time in 2013. All of that could very well see the Bayou Bengals undefeated heading into their match-up with Georgia in Athens. It will be harder for Georgia to get to that game undefeated, but one suspects that a 4-0 LSU traveling to Athens to play a 3-0 Georgia might get some degree of national media attention. Note that LSU has not had a bye yet, despite the fact that every team gets two of them in 2013. We will return to this in a moment.

10.5.13 | at MISSISSIPPI STATE
10.12.13 | FLORIDA
10.19.13 | at OLE MISS
10.26.13 | FURMAN

This could actually be a complicated month for LSU. The Tigers go to Starkville, return home to play Florida and then turn around and play in Oxford the following week. If you're talking about the perfect opportunity for an upset -- well, that Ole Miss game has "trap" written all over it. (Which, of course, is another reason that the Rebels should have used Ackbar as their other mascot, but I digress.) That looks like the most dangerous three-game stretch for LSU. And they follow that up with Furman. I've long said that I don't have a real problem with playing FCS teams from within one's own state -- it's a way to spread the wealth among a state's programs, give players at those smaller schools a chance to play in one of the stadiums they likely grew up admiring and can keep state legislators at bay. But Furman is notably not in the state of Louisiana. Or anywhere close. You could play worse FCS teams than Furman, but yeesh. In any case, LSU still has not taken either of the two byes that the team is allowed to take. That is about to change in one of the more clever scheduling arrangements I've seen this season.

11.9.13 | at ALABAMA
11.23.13 | TEXAS A&M
11.29.13 | ARKANSAS

This, my friends, is artwork. LSU literally takes a bye, plays at Alabama, takes another bye, and then plays Texas A&M in Baton Rouge. Alabama actually also takes their byes before the Texas A&M and LSU games, but the games are divided by more than a month on the Tide's calendar, avoiding the audacity needed to take two byes in the space of three weeks to achieve the feat. And the Bayou Bengals are also creative enough to put the FCS game before the bye preceding the Alabama game, essentially giving them three weeks that will mostly be spent preparing for the Tide after the Ole Miss game. This isn't really a knock on LSU for its schedule; if nothing else, one has to admire the strategic thinking that went into it. LSU basically agreed to play straight through September and October to get byes before its two biggest games of the year. The question is whether all that off-and-on football might make players a bit rusty or break up any momentum against either the Aggies or the Hogs, but for now, that appears to be a risk LSU is willing to take.

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