Published September 28, 2011 - 5:47am
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Schedules can make or break a season before it even starts. LSU seemed to be as good as any team in the SEC, but the schedule was going to keep it from returning to New Orleans in January. Many, most notably SEC know-it-all Paul Finebaum, guaranteed that LSU would lose one game in September. Was a September schedule from hell worth it for LSU? Considering the Tigers are 4-0 and No. 1 in the country, then yes it was worth it.
September was more than going 4-0. It was more than proving the doubters wrong. It was about laying the cornerstone for a season to remember in Baton Rouge. LSU went on the road three times and beat three ranked teams by double digits. In doing so, it turned critics into fans and became a real favorite to win it all. Does it mean that LSU will follow last year’s Auburn Tigers and go undefeated? No, it doesn’t. However, it does show that Les Miles has his team believing it will take down all obstacles in its path. The Tigers are going out weekly and playing like they deserve to be the #1 team in the country. Maybe this was a lesson well-learned in 2007 when the Tigers didn’t seem as hungry on a trip to Lexington.
Aside from the wins, the real beauty of the past four weeks was watching the Tigers adapt and improve every week. The defense, offense and special teams are all getting better weekly, regardless of who they are playing. Freshmen and first time starters such as Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Anthony Johnson, Tharold Simon and Craig Loston are getting experience against the top teams in the country instead of a bunch of cupcakes. The hostile crowds LSU faced in Starkville and Morgantown will be invaluable for all those new guys playing in Knoxville and Tuscaloosa for the first time. Speaking of Morgantown, maybe West Virginia would have been better prepared for LSU had it played more than one BCS team in the three weeks prior.
The end of September also doesn’t mean things get easier for the Tigers. October will also present its challenge as Kentucky, Florida and Auburn all come to Baton Rouge. A visit to Knoxville looms large on the 15th. Unlike September, however, the schedule favors the Tigers this time.
Kentucky travels to Baton Rouge after getting pillaged by the Gators.
Florida makes its trip to Death Valley a week after a heavyweight brawl with Bama.
Tennessee gets the Bayou Bengals after a rivalry match with Georgia.
Like Kentucky, Auburn visits a week after facing Florida.
Many will say that this is just typical SEC scheduling. Realists will say that playing LSU a week after battling the Tide, the Gators, and a rivalry match-up with the Dawgs is like getting hit with a baseball bat after taking one on the chin with a roll of quarters.
October kicks-off this Saturday when Kentucky comes to town for brunch. Usually, the mid-morning start would be an advantage for an opponent in Tiger Stadium. Not this time. Kentucky will be LSU’s first home SEC game and the fans will be jacked up (literally) to welcome home their No. 1 LSU Fighting Tigers.
On a final note, thank you September schedule. You got everyone’s attention and put a magnifying glass on LSU. LSU was covered extensively, millions watched the Tigers and more importantly, future recruits got to see LSU win on primetime three out of four weeks. Not even Cecil Newton can put a price on that.