What 2018 game are you looking forward to the most? Which one do you see as a key to a successful season? Which one do you see as a potential trap?
Southeastern, because it has a strong potential to be the best tailgate out of the bunch.
Auburn is the obvious answer for the first two questions, but I’ll leave that to somebody else and go with Mississippi State. The Tigers get the Bulldogs after Florida and Georgia back to back and the odds are LSU will likely be reeling after a beatdown. Seeing how Orgeron’s team responds to those two games with an unknown quality that is expected to be good will probably be the best barometer we will get from him this season. Because we know nothing about Joe Moorhead, Head Coach, I’m also going to put it down as a potential trap game.
Well, I’m most looking forward to Miami. It’s the start of the season, it’s being played a few miles from my house, and kickoff means the long wait for LSU football is over. It’s the first drink of water after walking for miles in the desert. But it’s also a pretty big game. I don’t think it is the bell weather game, but it’s our first chance to see the offense and who exactly will be taking the snaps. This team is replacing almost everyone on offense and even has a new guy calling plays, so it is both scary and exciting to think what it will look like in Week One.
However, the key game is Auburn. Let’s be frank, Auburn was the better team last year, and we were fortunate to get the win. But that win launched LSU to a damn fine season. This year, we’re kicking it old school and starting off the SEC season with a road trip to Auburn. It’s very 90s. Playing a big rival is a good thing, but it also sets a tone for the whole season. If LSU wins, they are an SEC contender. If they lose, they are already behind the eight ball and are essentially a game and a half behind the False Tigers thanks to the tiebreaker. The realistic goals for the season are determined in that game. It is huge.
There are no easy games in the SEC, but I see the Florida game as the biggest trap. I mean, this is a team coming off of a 4-7 season and we will likely be looking ahead to Georgia. and the week prior, LSU plays its traditional rival, Ole Miss. It would be so easy to look over a mediocre also-ran like Florida, but this team needs to focus and get those wins against clearly inferior opponents. when the schedule is this tough, you have to pick up the gimmees.
Miami jumps out for a couple reasons. For one, I’m making the trip, so that’s always fun. For another, it has the potential to be a big statement game for LSU. Miami is going to be ranked in the top 10, and with all this boo-hooing about the Tiger’s prospects, that kind of win in a prime-time national spot to open the season would be huge. Plus, it’s going to be our first glimpse of a lot of new things about this team; new offense, new quarterback, plus a number of new contributors on that side of the ball as well. Miami’s favored, but only by a couple points and it wouldn’t surprise me if that line continues to fall by game week.
Auburn’s a big deal, but we all know how hard winning at Jordan-Hare is. LSU’s only done it twice since the turn of the century, and both wins came over coaches that were fired after those respective seasons (2008, 2012). It’s a winnable game, but I don’t think too many people are going to call that one in advance.
In terms of traps, I look at both Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss and where they sit. LSU will be coming off the Auburn game, Tech is a solid team that’s going to come into Baton Rouge with its hair on fire, talking about Troy. I don’t expect a loss at all, but I do expect a tough match-up. And then right after that, you have an Ole Miss team that will have nothing to play for, early in the season before any of the vets on that team have figured that out and have packed it in. They’ll still be a talented passing team that will be able to score points on almost anybody.
Make it out of September with just one loss, you suddenly are set up pretty well for the rest of the schedule. More than one? Those four- or five-loss predictions are suddenly much more prescient.
Miami. Doing the historical series, there was actually a moment in time when LSU played Miami with regularity in the 60s. That stopped in the 70s and the teams have only played twice since then (1988 and 2005). These are two blue blood-ish programs whose runs of dominance butted up against one another but never actually overlapped.
Beyond that, I think it’s a great barometer of how LSU stacks up. They may not be the best team in country, but Miami is a quality opponent that will provide a real test. If LSU dominates, we should feel pretty good about the team. This won’t be a BYU-redux. Miami has actual talent.
Key to the season is almost definitely Auburn. That’s another level up from Miami, on the road and in conference. That should be when we really know where this team stands. Anything other than a blowout loss would be a positive result, by my eye.
For the first question, I think I’m actually going to go with Alabama. As much as I don’t see LSU coming out on top of this one, it always serves as a solid indicator as to where the Tigers stand. And I know in last week’s roundtable I called this one a sure loss. But last year, it looked curiously winnable, so I’m interested to see what this year’s team can do going up against Nick Saban and company. Of course Miami is one to watch too, just considering the Hurricanes will be a top 10 team.
Auburn is the key game here, and it looks like everyone’s agreed upon that. LSU defeated them last year, but it definitely was not the strongest win by a long shot. This being said, I agree with Billy in that this a game LSU can reasonably win, but it’s far from a given.
Looking at potential traps, Mississippi State stands out. Throwing a new head coach into the mix always makes things interesting, and people are going into this season with high expectations for Joe Moorhead’s football team. Georgia and Texas A&M could very well be trap games too. It’s very important LSU doesn’t downplay any opponent it faces, regardless of how small. I think Troy served as a nice reality check in regards to that last season.