Rabalais: LSU-Ole Miss on Halloweeen? A home game vs. Tennessee? We reimagine the new SEC schedule

Welcome to 2020 Southeastern Conference football, Version 2.0.

The SEC announced Thursday its teams will play a 10-game, conference-only schedule this season in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Oh, how I look forward to writing a column that doesn’t require the words “coronavirus pandemic.”)

But what we don’t know outnumbers what we do. A quick scan of LSU’s schedule on its website still lists the eight previously scheduled conference games the Tigers were set to play in the weeks they were planned, but next to each one are the words “opponent TBD.”

It could be the SEC will work around the games as they are now. It could be they will go with a new slate. And as far as the two additional conference games and how those will be determined, that’s anyone’s guess.

“Anyone who tells you they have answers to these things right now, they’re lying,” LSU executive deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry said Friday on WNXX-FM, 104.5.

So, before the schedule is reset, your friendly neighborhood sports columnist decided to take a crack at how I would reconfigure LSU’s schedule. Again, these are merely my thoughts, not based on any inside information:

After the Southeastern Conference decided to shorten its season to a 10-game, league-only schedule, it was clear that the league intends on pl…

Sept. 26: Mississippi State (home)

Quick kick: This game was set for Oct. 24 in Tiger Stadium. LSU opened its 2007 BCS national championship season with a 45-0 win in Starkville, so fans might look on this as a good omen. Would be a heck of a test for both Bo Pelini’s new 4-3 base defense and new State coach Mike Leach’s pass-mad offense.

Oct. 3: Auburn (away)

Quick kick: This game was set for Nov. 21, giving LSU back-to-back road games with a trip the next week to Texas A&M. This move to a more traditional spot for the LSU-Auburn game better balances the tough road tests.

Oct. 10: South Carolina (home)

Quick kick: Initially scheduled as LSU’s last home game Nov. 14, a loss in that game might have been a coup de grâce for scuffling South Carolina coach and former LSU defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. But I doubt any coaches are getting fired in this upside-down season.

Oct. 17: Florida (away)

Quick kick: This game would slide back a week from its current Oct. 10 date. Under my format, LSU, currently riding a 16-game winning streak dating to the 2019 Fiesta Bowl, could be going for a school-record 20 straight wins if it were to survive a coin-flip trip to Auburn.

Oct. 24: Missouri (away)

Quick kick: Not an opponent currently on LSU’s slate, but Missouri is the one SEC team LSU has never played on the road (Mizzou joined the conference in 2012). This is a golden opportunity for the conference to address this scheduling wrong, something Ausberry brought up Friday.

Oct. 31: Ole Miss (home)

Quick kick: If it stays as scheduled, Ole Miss would be LSU’s season opener Sept. 26. That would be a delicious way to start, with Ed Orgeron, who was fired at Ole Miss in 2007, and Lane Kiffin, his buddy whom Coach O tried to hire as his play-caller in 2016. But the chance for the Tigers and Rebels to meet on Halloween night can never be passed up.

Nov. 7: Idle

Quick kick: LSU was scheduled to host Alabama on this date, but for our purposes, we’re pushing back the open date a week. Great time for a break after six straight games.

Nov. 14: Alabama (home)

Quick kick: The Tigers and their fans saw a long nightmare end with last year’s 48-43 win at Alabama, LSU’s first over the Crimson Tide since 2011. But the Tigers haven’t beaten Bama at home since 2010. This promises to be another epic clash.

Nov. 21: Arkansas (away)

Quick kick: I could see the wisdom in swapping this one with South Carolina, because November weather in northwest Arkansas is usually icy when LSU plays there. This one was slated for Oct. 17, but The Boot game, the longtime regular-season finale, feels more at home in November.

Nov. 28: Tennessee (home)

Quick kick: The Tigers are slated to host the Volunteers in 2022, but let’s say that game is moved up to fill out this schedule. LSU is supposed to go to Kentucky in 2021, but we’ll leave that game there for now, in the interest of getting LSU that long-deferred trip to Missouri.

Dec. 5: Texas A&M (away)

Quick kick: Whatever the plan, this burgeoning rivalry game needs to stay as the regular-season finale. The Tigers didn’t forget their seven-overtime loss from 2018 in College Station last year, and they pounded the Aggies 50-7. I doubt the Aggies have forgotten that score, either.

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With that, here are a few notes on LSU’s schedule if all goes as planned:

• This will be LSU’s latest season opener since Sept. 29, 1956, when the Tigers started with a 9-6 loss to Texas A&M.

• LSU will play a 10-game regular season for the first time since 1969. The Tigers went 9-1 and voted — yes, voted — not to go to a bowl after being shunned by the Cotton Bowl, which picked Notre Dame to play No. 1 Texas. College football teams were allowed to play an 11-game schedule starting in 1970.

• This will be the first time LSU plays an SEC-only regular season since joining the conference as a charter member in 1933. The only times the Tigers ever played only conference games were in the one-game seasons of 1893 and 1898. LSU played its first game in school history in 1893 against Tulane, losing 34-0, and beat Tulane 37-0 in 1898. Both teams then were in the long-defunct Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). LSU moved to the Southern Conference (SIC) in 1923, and then the SEC in 1933.

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