In January, Houston asked to be let out of its game with LSU, a request to which LSU tentatively agreed, conditional on finding a suitable Division I-A replacement. Because Arkansas State was already under contract to play LSU in 2005, it was decided to move the game up one year to September 11, 2004.
"Football opponents used to be etched in stone years ahead of time, but those days are over," said LSU senior associate athletics director Dan Radakovich, who is responsible for football scheduling. "We understood Houston's request to make a change in its schedule, and we were willing to take a look at the change if it did not dramatically affect our schedule this season."
The Arkansas State game will be LSU's final non-conference contest before beginning play against Southeastern Conference opponents.
"I am continually disappointed that opponents have attempted to change our out of conference schedule at such late dates," said LSU head coach Nick Saban. "However, Arkansas State provides us with a better opportunity to prepare our team for this year's early SEC schedule. With a Pac-10 team (Oregon State) coming in for the season opener, it is good to have a team with SEC-type tendencies in week two to continue our team's development for the rest of the season."
The Arkansas State game will be followed by the most challenging part of the LSU schedule as the Tigers play three out of four SEC games on the road in consecutive weeks. LSU plays at Auburn on September 18, returns home to host Mississippi State on September 25, then plays back to back road games at Georgia on October 2 and Florida on October 9.
After home games against Troy State on October 23 and Vanderbilt on October 30, the Tigers begin November with an open date on November 6, followed by home games against Alabama on November 13 and Ole Miss on November 20. The Tigers are currently slated to finish the regular season on November 27 at Arkansas.
The discussions that led to this scheduling change also prompted negotiations between LSU and Oklahoma for a future home-and-home series. Oklahoma will play at Tiger Stadium and LSU will visit Norman on dates to be announced later this spring.
2004 LSU Football Schedule
Sept. 4 Oregon State
Sept. 11 Arkansas State
Sept. 18 at Auburn
Sept. 25 Mississippi State
Oct. 2 at Georgia
Oct. 9 at Florida
Oct. 16 Open
Oct. 23 Troy State
Oct. 30 Vanderbilt
Nov. 6 Open
Nov. 13 Alabama
Nov. 20 Ole Miss
Nov. 27 at Arkansas