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June 9, 2011

Thoughts About LSU's 2011 Football Schedule

I was looking over ESPN's SEC blog and noticed that at 10:00 a.m. June 8th Edward Aschoff posted and article called "Five SEC upsets to watch out for" that had the #3 upset alert as the Sept. 15 game between LSU and Mississippi State.  Then in an update of Aschoff's article at 11:15 a.m. June 8th Chris Low wrote an article called "Five more SEC upsets to watch out for", Low had elevated the LSU vs. Miss. St. game to the #1 upset alert.  I am not sure what happened between 10:00a.m. and 11:15 a.m. that caused senior ESPN SEC Blogger Chris Low to upgrade the upset alert by his junior SEC blogger but, Low has my attention squarely focused on LSU's schedule.    Actually, I have been thinking a bit more about LSU's 2011 schedule since the news that the SEC sports information directors picked Alabama to finish 1st in the SEC West and LSU to finish 2nd.  Predictions this far in advance of the first game are really simply speculation.  It is anybodies' guess as to who will even win the opening games much less try to predict any team's final ranking even among just 6 teams, like the SEC West.  I do not remember where Auburn was picked to finish in the SEC West last year but, I am pretty sure that it was not 1st.  Alabama has a solid team with some very good returning starters from last year but, I think the LSU Tigers are going to beat the Tide.

Here is how I am thinking of LSU's schedule this far from the opening kickoff:

These are the teams that are going to be incredibly hard fought battles for the Bayou Bengals:  Oregon, Mississippi State, Florida, West Virginia, Alabama, and Arkansas.

Oregon gave Auburn all they wanted in the BCS National Championship game and Oregon has been recruiting well and has some outstanding players returning this year, namely: QB Darron Thomas, RB LaMichael James, TE David Paulson, and CB Cliff Harris.

Mississippi State has not been the same doormat since Dan Mullen became the new sheriff in Starkville.  Last time LSU went to Starkville it took superhero-like play from Chad Jones to save the day.  LSU dominated Mississippi State last year but State had just come off of a narrow loss to Auburn and was still somewhat banged up and the game was in Death Valley. Plus Patrick Peterson had a couple of out-of-this-world circus catch interceptions in last year's LSU/Miss. State matchup.  The Arizona Cardinals got a really good catch when they drafted Patrick Peterson.  I would love to see Chad Jones make it to the field in a game with the NY Giants, who drafted him despite serious injury after a car accident.

Florida may be the dark horse SEC team this year.  New Florida headcoach, Will Muschamp knows how to motivate a defense and his OC, Charlie Weiss may have struggled as a head coach at Notre Dame but, it is hard to discount Weiss' abilities as an great offensive mind.  They may not have all of the personnel in place but that is kind of hard to believe considering how well Florida has recruited top talent for the last several years.  Florida is not too many years removed from a national championship.  If memory serves the national champions, counting backwards for three years, have been Auburn, Alabama, and Florida.  I still like the fact that LSU is maybe due to another turn at that rotation. For those not following me - LSU won the BCS in 2007(Jan 2008), Florida in 2008(Jan 2009), Alabama in 2009(Jan 2010), and Auburn in 2010(Jan 2011). 

West Virginia - LSU travels to West Virginia this year and West Virginia will see this as a grudge match to redeem themselves from their loss at the hands of the Tigers.

Alabama has lost wide receiver Julio Jones, Heisman-winning running back Mark Ingram, safety Mark Barron, and starting quarterback Greg McElroy but Nick Saban has the cupboard stocked full and Alabama should be an incredibly hard team to beat for several years to come.  When LSU meets Alabama this will be another one of those "clash of the titans" matchups.

Arkansas seems to take this last game of the season "battle for the boot" game more seriously than the Tigers.  I cannot figure it out but for some reason, the stars lineup for the Hogs every now and then in this game.  Arkansas running back, Knile Davis is set to return and you can never discount a Bobby Petrino coached team's passing game.

My next category for ranking LSU's opponents versus LSU is "solid tough matchups".   This category includes:  Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn and Ole Miss.

Kentucky has proven to be a tough team year-in and year-out for LSU.  Remember the bluegrass miracle occurred because it looked like LSU had been upset by UK.  LSU also registered only two triple overtime losses during their last successful National Championship bid.  One of those triple overtime losses was to Kentucky.  LSU should beat UK.

Tennessee will face LSU after having watched to overtime victory by LSU about 40,000times.  Derek Dooley is a good coach.  Tennessee is also a potential surprise SEC dark horse contender.

Auburn will no longer have Cameron Newton, Nick Fairley or Lee Ziemba but Auburn will still field a solid team.  LSU should beat every team in this category.  Auburn will be a solid matchup for the Bayou Bengals.

Ole Miss Nutt has had a clear bead on the Tigers since his stint as the Hogs head coach

And the finally two teams fit in the final category, "you had better beat these guys".
These teams include:  Northwestern State University and Western Kentucky.

There is not much to say about these two teams except that LSU had better beat these guys or all will not be well with Tiger Nation.

To this point that is about as far as I am willing to go in predicting the Tigers schedule.

1 comment:

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