Last Saturday in Starkville, Mississippi, the LSU Tigers started the Southeastern Conference portion of their 2021 schedule against Mississippi State. We did not witness the offensive onslaught on the Tigers defense that was on display in 2020. In last year’s contest, the Bulldogs passing attack threw for an SEC record 623 yards.
The rematch between LSU and Mississippi State had a different outcome as the Tigers won 28-25. Leading up to the rematch with the Bulldogs, there was speculation on the future of Head Coach Ed Orgeron at LSU.
The opening day loss to UCLA started up the conversation of Orgeron being on the hot seat once again. The following week against McNeese State added more fuel to the fire despite the Tigers winning 34-7. LSU defeated McNeese State, but the team struggled to become productive on offense for the entire ball game.
There has never been this much anticipation on how LSU would perform against Mississippi State in previous matchups between the two. Historically, Mississippi State was the least of LSU’s problems when it comes to SEC opponents. Now that the Tigers have avenged last season’s loss by the Bulldogs, a difficult phase of their schedule is about to begin. Let’s examine LSU’s next four SEC opponents and how they measure up in regards to competition.
1. Auburn Tigers: October 2 (Home)
LSU may be going up against a familiar face in Auburn’s new starting QB TJ Finley. In 2020, Finley was on the other side of the field when LSU suffered a 37-point beatdown by Auburn. During the offseason, Finley decided to enter the transfer portal to join the Auburn Tigers. Auburn has not shown that they will be a severe threat in the SEC West this season. However, that may change with Finley under center.
Finley replaced starter Bo Nix in last Saturday’s matchup against Georgia State. He led Auburn on a 98-yard drive for the go-ahead touchdown score with 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter. No official word has been given on the status of who will be starting for Auburn when they head to “Death Valley” this Saturday.
2. Kentucky Wildcats: October 9 (Away)
The Tigers game versus Kentucky has been filled with so much intrigue that the networks decided to show the game in a primetime slot. The Wildcats are currently 4-0 and are second behind Georgia in the SEC East standings. Their first major test on the SEC portion of the schedule begins this Saturday against Florida. The following week, LSU comes to town. Depending on the outcome against Auburn, LSU could carry significant momentum going into Lexington.
3. Florida Gators: October 16 (Home)
Last season the Florida Gators were on a path to being placed in the driver’s seat to clinch a college football playoff berth. A win over LSU would have made the magic number only one to advance to the postseason. However, in the game versus LSU, the Gators’ undisciplined tendencies got the best of them. Florida defensive back Marco Wilson was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after tossing a shoe of an LSU player. At the time, Florida had come up with a critical stop on LSU’s 29-yard line.
There was enough time on the clock for Kyle Trask to put the team in position for a touchdown or field-goal score. Overall, it never came to past as the Tigers kept the ball and kicker Cade York nailed a 57-yard field goal to knock off Florida 37-34 in Gainesville. The rivalry now shifts to Baton Rouge. Florida’s high-powered offense could present challenges for LSU’s personnel on defense. Maybe by now, the issues on both sides of the football will be worked out. Florida’s offense is still potent, but they are not the threat that they were in 2020.
4. Ole Miss Rebels: October 23 (Home)
If the Rebels can get past Alabama this Saturday and Arkansas the following week, the LSU game will become their next toughest challenge for winning the SEC Wes. LSU defeated the Rebels in the season’s final game last year during a difficult time within the program. Out of the four teams on the list, the Rebels will be the most formidable opponent they will face.
By this time, Coach Orgeron may be no longer a part of the program. It depends on how well the team performs in the three games before the October 23 matchup with the Rebels. LSU’s defense is capable of slowing down the Rebel highly-touted offense. However, the scoring must be kept in the mid-20s.
Photo courtesy of the USA Today.