Some of the other dates are shifting places on the calendar (for example the Mississippi State game is all the way up to week two for LSU in 2015), but the home-and-away portion of things is squared away.
This article is asking the question and then examining: Which schedule is the more difficult one for LSU these days, that of odd- or even-numbered years?
Let’s go to the tale of the tape.
ODD-YEAR SEC SCHEDULE
HOME: Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M
AWAY: Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss
What jumps out in a hurry in seasons like 2015 is traveling to Tuscaloosa to play the Alabama game. LSU won in Bryant-Denny Stadium in the memorable 9-6 overtime game in 2011, but the Tigers lost the trip before in 2009 and since in 2013.
There’s no good place to have to play Alabama, but traveling to T-Town makes odd years a tough go (even though all three of LSU’s national championship appearances this millennium have come in odd years).
The emergences of Mississippi State and the recruiting revitalization of Ole Miss make the two trips to the Magnolia State more menacing than they used to be, particularly the one to Starkville, where Dan Mullen has made the Bulldogs more contender than doormat.
Taking a look at the home slate, LSU gets November visits from Arkansas and Texas A&M, nullifying a bad-weather game in Fayetteville and a raucous crowd in College Station. Even more important, from a longterm view, is that Florida comes to Baton Rouge, traditionally a better set-up in this cross-division matchup for the Bayou Bengals.
Finally, LSU rounds out its eight-game SEC schedule in 2015 with a road date at South Carolina. While Georgia or potentially Missouri may have been tougher draws, Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks are far from a pushover in Columbia, even if the talent pool isn’t what it was 2-3 years ago.
EVEN-YEAR SEC SCHEDULE
HOME: Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss
AWAY: Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M
The reciprocal schedule leaves LSU with four lose-able games away from Tiger Stadium, depending on how Arkansas is shaping up in a given year.
Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks hit their stride down the stretch of the 2014 campaign, a run that included a 17-0 shutout win over LSU in near-freezing Fayetteville. Of the Tigers’ seven regular SEC opponents, this will always have the potential of being the worst weather game.
Also included in the even years is a game at Kyle Field, one that Texas A&M brass have found a way to move to Thanksgiving night, a brutal scheduling situation for LSU fans.
Then there are the two programs that frankly have been historically better over the past decade – Auburn and Florida.
Both stadiums are among the loudest and wildest in the league. In the last three even-numbered years combined (2010, ’12 and ’14), LSU is 3-3 at Auburn and Florida. Splitting may sound good, but when you consider a split combined with Alabama on the schedule at home, that’s a potential recipe for two losses every other year.