LSU defeats Auburn

LSU football coach Ed Orgeron and his players walk on the field before the Tigers' game against Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, at Tiger Stadium.

As all avid football fans know by now, college football this year is going to be conducted differently than it before COVID-19.

Although a vast amount of guidelines have been implemented to ensure safety for players, coaches and fans, etc., one of the more enticing changes lies with a conference-only schedule.

Of the Power-Five conferences that are still on track to play this season — Big 12, ACC and SEC, — all of them will be playing under a new format that will consist of 10 games, all against conference opponents. Though this will be an adjustment for all parties involved, it will affect some teams than others.

For the Big 12, a typical schedule includes nine in-conference games, so this season’s schedule will not be much of an adjustment for them. Traditionally, the SEC schedule consists of 12 regular-season games. Of those 12, eight are played against conference opponents. This season, SEC schools will have two additional in-conference opponents, playing 10 total to round out their already gruesome schedules. The ACC will follow the same format.

Although the conference-only format will increase the amount of competition for some teams, it also eliminates some of the most talked-about rivalries in college football. LSU, is front-and-center in this situation. The conference-only schedule nixes a marquee, much-anticipated, grudge match against fellow college football blueblood, the Texas Longhorns. It also nixes a game against Rice.

Aside from the Texas and Rice games being erased this season, LSU’s revamped schedule could provide it some luck as the attempt to stay on the throne of college football.

The Tigers will start and end their gauntlet, conference-only schedule in Tiger Stadium. LSU will square off against Mississippi State on Sept. 26 and close out against Ole Miss on Dec. 5.

Over the years, LSU has dominated Mississippi State. The Tigers lead this series all-time 75-35-3, with an astounding 18 victories over the last 20 meetings. This season’s matchup between the Tigers and Bulldogs could be an entirely different game however, Following last season, Mississippi State released former head coach Joe Moorehead of his duties and replaced him with Mike Leach, who is arguably one of the top offensive minds in college football. Combine that with graduate transfer quarterback KJ Costello, and the Tigers could be looking at an explosive offense that could be hard to stop.

Following fellow Mississippi school, Mississippi State, Ole Miss also hired a new head coach in the offseason. The LSU-Ole Miss matchup will be a duel between longtime colleagues, Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron. In the 108 meetings between the schools, LSU leads the series 63-41-4 and currently holds a four-game win streak over the Rebels, following last year’s shootout victory in Oxford, 58-37.

After the season opener, Orgeron and company will face their newly added opponents in back-to-back weeks. LSU will travel to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt on Oct. 3 and host Missouri on Oct. 10.

For the second consecutive year, the Tigers will be traveling to Nashville to take on the Commodores in hopes to come out with another victory following last year’s 66-38 win. LSU last matched up against Missouri in 2016 in Tiger Stadium, winning 42-7.

The last half of October could be looked as the more-challenging stretch for LSU. The Tigers will round out October with a battle of the Tigers when they play Auburn on The Plains, but a blood-bath with Florida in Gainesville (Oct. 17) and a match against South Carolina in Tiger Stadium (Oct. 24) stand in between.

After a top-10 matchup in Death Valley last year which resulted in a 42-28 win for the Tigers, this season’s duel could be very similar. As it stands now, the Tigers could be looking at another top-10 matchup, as both the Tigers and Gators are respectively ranked in the top-8 of the Associated Press preseason poll. The rivalry between these two programs has grown significantly in recent years, and this year will likely to be no different. The Gators will be lead by quarterback Kyle Trask, who had a breakout season last year, almost spoiling what ended up being a championship run for LSU.

Of the 21 meetings with South Carolina, the Tigers have come out on top 18 times, including the previous six.

As always, the battle of the Tigers, featuring Auburn, will surely be a game to highlight. After coming up short in highly contested games the previous three seasons, including last year’s game where Auburn nearly knocked off LSU in Death Valley, they are still seeking revenge. Bo Nix, the sophomore quarterback for the Auburn Tigers, has a number of lethal weapons in his arsenal and will be a good test for the defense of LSU.

Traditionally, LSU plays against Alabama on the first Saturday of November. This year, the marquee matchup between the Tigers and Tide will be delayed a week. LSU will host Alabama on Nov. 14. Luckily, LSU was still granted a bye-week before their date with the Tide.

After an eight-year drought against Alabama, LSU finally came out victorious in Tuscaloosa, winning 46-41. However, Alabama is coming back in 2020 fully loaded. Despite the quarterback position still being open, the Crimson Tide’s offense will feature an abundance of high end talent. Alabama is poised to have a strong offensive attack with a combination of its backfield and wideouts. Whoever ends up winning the quarterback job will have high caliber players surrounding him.

For the first and only time all season, LSU will face back-to-back road games against Arkansas (Nov. 21) and Texas A&M (Nov. 28) before rounding things out against Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium on Dec. 5.

LSU has been victorious against Arkansas in the annual Battle of the Boot for four consecutive seasons. After throttling the Razorbacks 56-20 in 2019, LSU will travel to Arkansas in 2020, in what everyone expects to be a similar margin of victory for the Tigers. LSU leads the all-time series 41-22-2.

Last season, LSU avenged its previous 74-72 loss to Texas A&M with a 50-7 smothering in Death Valley in Joe Burrow’s final game in Baton Rouge. This season, the Tigers will return to the scene of the crime in College Station, looking to build momentum in the matchup.

“Excited about it. The schedule is a great schedule,” Orgeron said on 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge. “Obviously, 10 SEC games, opening up at home against Mississippi State then Vanderbilt, then Missouri and then obviously a big road game against Florida. We’re going to take them one at a time. I think it’s a very favorable schedule, but it’s a schedule that we have to play well each week.”

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