Okay, now that we’ve talked about the team, let’s talk about the games. What’s your read for LSU’s 2019 schedule? What games do you have circled? What stretch will be the key?
This schedule shakes out as well for this team as you could ever really ask it too. Texas on the road is a different non conference test than any LSU team has been posed with since the 2011 team went to Morgantown, but it’s also an incredible opportunity. As far as the SEC schedule goes, anytime your opponents from the East are a home game against Florida and Vanderbilt, you take that 10 times out of 10. Anytime you can get Auburn and Texas A&M at home, you take that too. Throw the Bama game away, that is what it is regardless where it’s at. LSU’s next three toughest games in the SEC are all in the Tiger Stadium.
The key stretch is Florida, at Mississippi State and then Auburn. LSU should be favored in all those games, but that’s generally the kinda stretch in SEC play where the body blows pile up and you drop one. If they beat Texas they can probably afford to lose one there, they’ll still have one loss going into November. If they can’t win in Austin though, then there’s no margin for error with two losses. But no matter what happens before then, if this team can get through that run 3-0 — and I think they will — they’ll be as set up as you could hope for heading into November, which actually sets up extremely nice for them with a bad Ole Miss team on the road and then two straight home games to close out the year.
I’m extremely curious to see how LSU handles the Utah State game. The Aggies aren’t a sneaky team, they’re a straight-up good team. They finished 2018 ranked No. 22 in the AP poll and scored more points on a tough Michigan State defense than anyone else. I think this is the best non-Power 5 team LSU has hosted in non-conference play since West Virginia in 2010. I don’t think the team will sneak up on LSU because O definitely remembers the Troy game and they’ll be coming off a bye week, but the game should be interesting to watch.
I agree with Jake that the key stretch is mid-to-late October regardless of what happens in Austin. MSU is particularly interesting because I have no idea what their offense will look like with a quarterback who can actually throw (presumably). Also I have already begun negotiating with Satan on what I can sacrifice to ensure the Florida game will be at night.
One last scheduling quirk is that LSU and the Saints both have bye weeks the first weekend in November, so go ahead and plan your beach trip/family reunion/lawn-care project for then.
Texas and Mississippi State are the two standout games. The Texas game is just a good early season test for both teams, with both ending the season strong and entering the year with hype. Things could very well shape out that the loser of this game will have the opponent. Starkville has just become a complete pain in the ass to play at the last few seasons and it’s not a case of State just sneaking up on the Tigers.
That October stretch will be tough, but those post-Bama, Ole Miss, Arkansas and A&M games might be more valuable. They are three games, two of which are at home, against what figure to be bad teams. Winning out could be the difference in getting an NY6 Bowl bid.
I think LSU’s schedule sets up very very well for a deep run. Of your first four games, you get three teams to work out the kinks on. Admittedly, smack in the middle is a Texas team that we know will be ready to play, because Tom Herman only knows how to motivate his team as underdogs. That said, Texas is reloading all over the place and LSU is veteran heavy. I think that’s enough to tip the scales to LSU, even on the road.
So you get through September smoothly without an Auburn road bump and you are into your SEC slate, which will always be full of rigors. As far as SEC slates go, I think this one shakes out pretty well for LSU in terms of “tough stretches.” Most of their quality games back into weaker opponents, or weaker opponents lead into quality games. There’s no super obvious look ahead games, outside of Arkansas making a big resurgence in year two ahead of an emotionally charged A&M game. ‘
The answer is November 9th. The answer is Alabama. LSU should be favorites in every other game they play this year and will probably be double-digit underdogs against Alabama. That’s the game. That’s the stretch. That’s the season, whether we like it or not.
This is about as good as an LSU schedule is ever going to get. September is all very winnable games and even the marquee game wouldn’t derail the season if it goes poorly. Playing Texas on the road is a tough challenge, but it’s a fairly low risk one. But LSU will likely go into the bye week 4-0 or 3-1. Then, you get a week to check your head before the meat of the schedule.
But as Paul points out, the schedule works pretty well from tougher to easier on alternating weeks. Utah State is a really good Group of 5 team, but one LSU should beat if they want to have the season to which they are capable. Follow that up with the first true home game against Florida since 2015. Tiger Stadium will be absolutely jacked for that game.
The next pairing follows the same formula: tough but winnable game against State (this one on the road), followed by a home game against a potential top 15 team in Auburn. October will make the season, but as far as tough months go, that’s as manageable a road as it gets. The games lay out in probably the best possible sequence.
LSU gets a week off again before Bama, but then it could be smooth sailing to the end of the year. Ole Miss and Arkansas should both be bad teams, giving LSU three weeks to prep for it’s season finale at home against A&M. There might be a tad bit of bad blood there. When the Auburn game promises to only be the third most blood-thirsty home crowd, you have yourself a fantastic home slate.
The season works up to the climax against Alabama on November 9th, but there’s plenty of denouement. And if LSU can enter the Bama game undefeated, even if LSU loses to the Tide, those final three games might not be the gatekeepers to a NYE6 bowl, but the playoffs.
It’s a tough schedule by most standards, but by recent LSU vintage...not that bad. Of the toughest games, only two are on the road, and one of those is a non-conference game so even if you do lose it, its not a killer. Yes, you draw two pesky-level mid-major teams, but Georgia Southern isn’t quite what they were under Willie Fritz, and Utah State will have a new head coach.
What’s more, as other people have pointed out, there’s a nice rhythm to it. A warm-up game before Texas, followed by the one true cupcake in Northwestern State. The Texas game is a difficult match-up, but at least it’s not an opener. I like the match-up for LSU, but you’re still playing a really good quarterback on the road. Then you have the road trip to Vandy and then Utah State — very winnable games but each with their own degree of difficulty, plus a bye week to ramp up to the difficult October stretch of Florida, at Mississippi State and then Auburn.
That State game looks like a trap right now; Starkville is one of those road locals you never want to go into in a sandwich spot between two higher-profile teams. But we should also have a better read on State’s quality by then as well, as they’ll have played Auburn already.
Yes, you have to go to Alabama but I’m not sure location matters as much with that game. And after that, you get the West’s two cellar dwellers before blood week against A&M. But overall, there’s at least two home games in every month of the season, and only one stretch of more than one away game consecutively. It’s not an easy schedule, but it’s one of LSU’s most navigable in some time.
This manageable schedule, for sure, but there’s something about the out-of-conference part that doesn’t sit well with me. Having to prepare for a triple option team in Georgia Southern to start things off is not ideal. The defense is going to go through camp practicing against an LSU offense that will do similar things to the rest of the 11 offenses of they will play but then has to put it all on hold to prepare for a wildly different GSU team. Forget all that stuff and then travel to Austin to face a potentially elite team on the road the next week. And then guess what? Utah State is friggin’ good and their quarterback is probably better than ours. Yikes. Of course, when LSU gets out of their 4-0 (they play Northwestern State between Texas and USU), I’ll pretend I never wrote this.
If LSU starts off 4-0 before their first off week, I think we’re in great shape. Georgia Southern provides no threat, especially after their returning QB pulled off something straight out of a Super Troopers movie. It all comes down to Austin. If the secondary can corral Ehlinger (Get it? Corral? Longhorns? Okay, sorry), which I think they can, we are good.
All of the major threats in the SEC outside of Alabama (Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M) are at Baton Rouge, which certainly helps. I don’t see Starkville as much of a trap with a team that had a top 10 defense, yet could only muster 4-4 in the SEC last year. Maybe they won’t have a tight end at quarterback this year, but that shouldn’t matter.
It’s going to come down to the Texas and Alabama games. It certainly helps to have a personality like Burrow leading this offense on the road, but this team will have to overcome those Alabama demons that have haunted them. If they win that , then you avoid that lag following the slobberknocker with a game against a struggling Ole Miss, even if it is on the road.
I feel like, in a weird way, the Texas game is so obviously important that’s its almost being forgotten about? Losing to Texas wouldn’t derail the season, but dropping the most highly anticipated non conference road game since West Virginia in 2011 would just kill the buzz surrounding the program. Simply put, LSU has to get to October 12th game against Florida 6-0. Navigating through the Florida, Mississippi State, Auburn stretch will be the toughest stretch of the schedule, but LSU should, key word should, get to Tuscaloosa with a 8-1 record at worst. I would worry about an emotional letdown at Ole Miss, but with O’s history there I can’t imagine he’ll allow his team to lose to the Rebels. And then it’s two home games to close out the year, one against a bottom feeder in the West, the other against an A&M team ripe for a middling season at best.
Throwing out the obvious Texas/Bama answers...the three week stretch of Florida-Mississippi State-Auburn. In a vacuum I like LSU to win all three of those games individually but getting all three is going to be tough, mostly having to play Auburn after going against Florida and MSU’s defenses. The Bulldogs should see a regression on defense this year but I’m not expecting them to drop off THAT much.