Is it ever too early to talk LSU football? I didn’t think so. So, here’s a primer for the 2014 opponents.
The Tigers open in Houston Aug. 30 against Wisconsin in the Advocare Texas kickoff. The Badgers, like LSU’s final opponent of the 2013 season, Iowa, love to run the football. Melvin Gordon, who rushed for 146 yards in a loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl, flirted with the NFL draft, before deciding to return.
One week later, LSU plays its home opener at Tiger Stadium against Sam Houston State. Sam Houston lost to Southeastern Louisiana 30-29 in the FCS playoffs.
Sept. 13, LSU hosts Louisiana-Monroe. Tulane defeated the Warhawks 31-13. But, on Nov. 30, ULM defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 31-28. It was the Warhawks’ first win over the Ragin Cajuns since 2007. The Warhawks were offensively challenged last season. They scored only 30 fourth-quarter points.
Sept. 20, in Tiger Stadium, LSU hopes to record its 15th consecutive win over Mississippi State in the Southeastern Conference opener. Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott, who engineered a dramatic Egg Bowl win over Ole Miss, returns.
LSU’s fourth consecutive home game is against New Mexico State. Here’s a stat that is absolutely stunning: The Aggies’ last bowl was in 1960.
Last season, Florida coach Will Muschamp aged almost a half-century as his Gators lost their last seven games. A 17-6 loss at LSU started the tailspin. On Oct. 11, LSU will see a different Florida offense. The Gators hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper away from Duke. Running an up-tempo style, Duke scored 54 touchdowns in 2013, a school record.
One week later, Kentucky visits Tigertown. The Wildcats won two games in 2013, but enthusiasm reigns under coach Mark Stoops. The Wildcats drew 35,000-plus to Commonwealth Stadium for the spring game.
Oct. 25, Ole Miss visits Tiger Stadium. It will be the Tigers looking to avenge last season’s 27-24 defeat. Tigers beware. The Rebs return Music City Bowl MVP – quarterback Bo Wallace. Wallace has 7,085 total yards, second most in school history.
After an open date, Alabama comes to Tiger Stadium on Nov. 8. The Tide sports three outstanding tailbacks: T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake. Quarterback is a question mark. Jacob Coker graduated from Florida State in the spring but transferred and will be the Bama quarterback in the fall, despite missing spring practice. “The learning curve is steep,” said head coach Nick Saban. “But, he is a bright young guy.”
LSU escaped with a 31-27 win over Arkansas last November. On the 15th of the month, the Tigers will be in Fayetteville. Arkansas was winless last season in the SEC, something that hadn’t happened since the Hogs came into the league in 1992.
Nov. 27, LSU closes the season on Thanksgiving, at College Station against Texas A&M.
The Aggies had three first-round picks in the 2014 draft, including quarterback Johnny Manziel. A Texas A&M regent has proposed renaming Kyle Field “the house that Johnny built.”
Can the franchise thrive without Johnny? By Thanksgiving, we’ll have the answer.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.