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July 7, 2011

LSU's 2011 Football Schedule - 7 Top Ranked Opponents

Reading through yesterdays emails, I took note of what LSU Super Fan Howard A. Gordon had to say.  Howard has let me know that I can use his emails for my blog anytime and I think you may find what Howard has to say of interest.

Good Morning Bob ...
I just read your column from July 6th.  I can understand the frustration the Louisville fan has.  However, extenuating circumstances probably existed, like his wife's illness.  Another important fact is a great coordinator does not necessary translate into a great coach.  There is a reason head coaches make the money they do ... it's a rare talent.  Personally, I feel Kragthrope will do an excellent job for the Tigers.  He is just what Jordan Jefferson and this offense need.  I've read between the lines in some statements from JJ, and it sure sounds like Crowton almost set him up to fail.  When a passing play was called, it was so obvious the opposing defense must have been salivating waiting for the snap.  Crowton's offense for the most part, was so predicable that I could call defenses against it.  The only time it really looked good was in bowl games and possibly after a bye week during the season.  That just doesn't make it in the SEC. 
I honestly feel we will see a very smooth, talented LSU team in 2011.  I agree with you ... the talent level at LSU mandates great performances on the playing field.  The main thing concerning me is the difficult schedule.  It has to be one of the toughest in the country.  The attitude of the players sounds very good, and they will have to bring their "A" game each and every week.  No weeks off this year!!!! 
Most publications I've read predict LSU to be 2nd in the West behind Alabama.  I don't think so.  LSU will beat Alabama in a very tough game, but the revamped LSU offense will win the day after a intense defensive battle. 
Only 58 more days ...
Take care my friend ...
Geaux Tigers!

While I certainly appreciate what Howard has to say about coach Kragthorpe, what caught my eye was the very thing I was already thinking about:  LSU's schedule.  Shortly after I read Howard's email I saw this opening line from an article today on
"It's taken as a given in the SEC that each team's conference schedule is tough enough that it doesn't make sense to line up a power-packed non-conference slate to go with it. That line of thinking continues this year." ("Countdown to Football: 58 Days - Non-conference schedule is easy pickings" by Mark Inabinett for 
At that point I knew that I would have to write something about LSU's 2011 Schedule. In the article author Mark Inabinett throws in this last line concession:
"LSU comes closest to bucking the four-cupcakes lineup with its 2011 schedule, balancing pushovers Northwestern State and Western Kentucky with games against Oregon in Dallas and West Virginia on the road."
But, that concession does not come close to describing what most of the nation already knows:  LSU has one of the toughest schedules in the country.  LSU does play in the SEC which means in conference LSU will face five teams - Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, and Mississippi State - that are consensus preseason top 25 ranked teams.  The consensus that I am referring to is an averaging of 18 expert sources that you may want to look at by clicking here.  In addition to the 5 SEC preseason consensus top 25 teams, LSU will face 2 non-conference opponents - Oregon and West Virginia - that are also preseason top 25 teams.  

So, by the end of the regular season, LSU will have faced 7 of the preseason consensus top 25 teams. Just to be bowl eligible LSU will have to win 7 of their 12 regular season games.  So just to get to a bowl game LSU will have to beat at least 2 top 25 teams.  

Yes LSU has 2 cupcake game:  Northwestern State the week after they open up against Oregon and Western Kentucky the week after they play Alabama at Alabama.  But considering who LSU plays the previous week, these cupcakes should expect to face a battle-worn Tiger team.  Oregon-LSU and Alabama-LSU appear to be shaping up to be epic battles.  Still, admittedly, even a "battle-worn" LSU ought to be able to crush NSU and Western Kentucky.

So that accounts for 9 of LSU's 12 game schedule.  In the remaining 3 games LSU will face Tennessee at Tennessee, Ole Miss at Ole Miss, and Kentucky in Tiger Stadium. Anybody that was alive and taking even a passing fancy in college football last year will recall that LSU only beat Tennessee in Tiger Stadium last year by a score of 16-14 because of an extra play due to a penalty that still has Tiger fans ducking and changing the subject anytime a Vol fan mentions the game. When Ole Miss visited LSU last year a shoot out ensued and LSU won 43-36. This year LSU travels to Oxford, Mississippi.  LSU and Kentucky are not in the same divisions of the SEC which means the two teams do not meet every year.  The last time LSU faced Kentucky was the last time LSU won a BCS National Title, however; many thought LSU did not deserve to be in the game because of two triple overtime losses.  One of those losses was to Kentucky.

I do not want to read another word about LSU not playing a tough schedule either in or out of conference.  I have not looked to closely but, I can think of no other national contender that has a tougher schedule this year. I agree with something that Texas A&M blogger Mike Tag recently wrote on his blog "I am the 12th Man":
"If LSU wins the national title they will have earned it. They play Oregon in Dallas and West Virginia in Morgantown in '11. Will be interesting to see if Lamichael James can run against the LSU defense. No one talks about the fact that James and Oregon struggled mightily on the ground against an Auburn defense that was nothing special save their uber-DT."  
How do I think LSU will finish this year?  I think LSU is a special team this year.  I have a strong feeling that LSU will be bowl eligible, sure.  Honestly, I will be disappointed if LSU wins less than 10 games this year and I could certainly see a scenario where LSU goes undefeated.  I think the LSU Tigers are that good.   I hope that they prove it on the field.  Geaux Tigers!

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