As expected the Tigers begin three out-of-conference home and homes this season, traveling to Massachusetts on Nov. 12 for a nationally televised season opener, playing at Texas Tech on Dec. 18 and hosting UAB on Dec. 21. The first two teams will make return trips to Baton Rouge in 2014-15 while LSU will travel to UAB next season.
LSU also lined up a home date versus Rhode Island on Jan. 4 to serve as the team's final non-conference test before starting SEC play against Tennessee in the PMAC three days later.
It's also worth noting, in the non-SEC portion of the schedule, that Johnny Jones' Tigers will host a total of five in-state schools during the months of November and December (Northwestern State, UNO, Southeastern, ULM and McNeese State).
Below is a full listing of LSU's 18 conference tilts as well as my feedback on what certain dates, times and opponents could mean in the grand scope of the Tigers making an NCAA Tournament push.
Jan. 7 – Tennessee
Jan. 11 – at South Carolina
Jan. 15 – at Ole Miss
Jan. 18 – Vanderbilt
Jan. 21 – Missouri
Jan. 25 – at Alabama
Jan. 28 – Kentucky
Quick January Thoughts: Four of the team's first seven SEC games, all in January, are at home … Three of those home games – Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky – are on Tuesday nights, meaning LSU has a pretty quick turnaround from Saturday tilts versus Rhode Island, versus Vanderbilt and at Alabama, respectively … The away stretch of games at South Carolina and Ole Miss marks the first of three times in SEC play in 2014 that LSU will play consecutive contests on the road. At no point are the Tigers on the road for three straight games … The Tennessee game to start SEC play will be a real challenge, but the end of this month is the toughest part of January – at Alabama, versus Kentucky.
Feb. 1 – Arkansas
Feb. 6 – at Georgia
Feb. 8 – Auburn
Feb. 12 – at Texas A&M
Feb. 15 – at Arkansas
Feb. 19 – Mississippi State
Feb. 22 – at Kentucky
Feb. 26 – Texas A&M
Quick February Thoughts: There's an even split of LSU's eight games in February – four on the road, four in the PMAC … The opening four games of the month represent a pretty favorable stretch for LSU, a run in which the Tigers will hope to get three wins. Arkansas will be talented, but LSU will like its chances at home on Feb. 1. After that the Tigers are at Georgia, who's down, home for Auburn and at Texas A&M. All four are very winnable games, and this stretch could establish LSU as one of the conference's upper-tier teams before the end of February and beginning of March, a much tougher stretch, come calling … After a January stuffed full of Tuesday night games, there are none in February. LSU plays on a Thursday night in Athens Feb. 6, meaning there's extra rest following Arkansas on Feb. 1 and a quick turnaround before hosting Auburn on Feb. 8. Other than that, it's all Wednesday-Saturday in February for the purple and gold.
March 1 – at Florida
March 6 – at Vanderbilt
March 8 – Georgia
Quick March Thoughts: It's Saturday-Thursday-Saturday for LSU to close out the regular season prior to the SEC Tournament in the Georgia Dome from March 12-16 … The first two games of the month are on the road, but the Tigers do at least have the benefit of an extra day's rest before playing in Nashville on March 6 … It also doesn't hurt that the SEC finale is at home for LSU, which may well be jockeying for seeding and position by that point.
Overall SEC Schedule Analysis
- Before diving headfirst into the SEC slate, it merits mentioning that LSU's TV presence and exposure in 2013-14 is outstanding compared to recent years. The Tigers will appear on one of the ESPN family of networks a whopping 15 times during the regular season, including 10 times during the conference slate. So more than half of LSU's SEC games will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. Also, CBS will air the March 1 game at Florida and FSN will have LSU's March 8 regular-season finale in Athens.
- When reviewing which opponents LSU drew twice, it jumps off the page that the Tigers fared relatively well. Here are the repeat offenders on LSU's schedule: Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia and Texas A&M. Playing Kentucky twice (and playing at Arkansas, where it's very tough to win) does the Bayou Bengals no favors, but they'll take their chances in every other game from this grouping. The important thing is there's no Florida or Tennessee on that list. It's much better to roll the dice with trio of Vanderbilt, Georgia and A&M, all of which project to be middle-to-bottom of the pack in the SEC this season.
- Of the teams LSU drew once, it's not exactly great news that the Tigers will be at Alabama and at Florida. Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa has not been friendly at all to LSU over the years, and playing in Gainesville is about as tall an order as there is in the SEC these days.
- On the flip side, LSU will count its blessings to be able to host Tennessee and Missouri in the team's only games against those foes.
- All things considered this is a schedule that sets itself up well for LSU in 2013-14. The Tigers catch only one of the three projected elite teams – Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee – twice in league play. They also begin in January with four SEC games at home as compared to only three on the road. This will give LSU a chance to springboard into the early portion of February, which isn't the most challenging stretch as I documented above. Add all this up, and LSU should be in good shape, record-wise, to control its own destiny heading into the back-half of the 18-game SEC slate.