The 2020 LSU schedule is favorable early, especially for a team with the roster turnover the Tigers are preparing for this offseason. Yesterday, we projected out the first three games of the season and the Tigers picked up wins over UTSA, Texas and Rice to start the season 3-0.
Today we take a look at games four through six, including home matchups against Ole Miss and Nicholls before traveling to the Swamp for the first true road game of the season against Florida.
Ole Miss- Sept. 26, Baton Rouge, LA
The first SEC test of the season won't be an easy one for the Tigers. Remember last year's battle with the Rebels in Oxford was much closer in the second half than anyone could've imagined, thanks to the sensational performance from freshman John Rhys Plumlee.
Plumlee scorched the LSU defense for 212 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and another 123 yards through the air, hanging 30 second half points on Dave Aranda's unit. It was a low point that the defense used to fuel its way to a national championship run in the end, but Plumlee returns for his sophomore season.
It took 58 points from Joe Burrow and the offense to pull away comfortably 58-37. New defensive coordinator Bo Pelini will want to make an early statement in conference play and there's no better opportunity than righting a game that many LSU veterans would like to erase from memory.
This still has the feel of a shootout but at home, LSU pulls away late.
Prediction: LSU 38, Ole Miss 28
Nicholls- Oct. 3, Baton Rouge, LA
So with the defending champs off to a hot 4-0 start, the Tigers get one more non-conference opponent before really getting into the meat of their SEC schedule. LSU will pay the Colonels $550,000 for the game, a team that went 9-5 in 2019 and saw them finish at the top of the Southland conference.
The Colonels just lost the best quarterback in program history in Chase Fourcade, who finished his stellar career first in passing yards, touchdowns, completion percentage, rushing touchdowns, total touchdowns and total yards. That's the kind of production you don't just easily replace.
It'll be a tune up game for the Tigers before hitting the road for Florida so expect to see a number of LSU players earn reps as Myles Brennan and the first team offense pull away early. Could we see significant action for freshmen TJ Finley or Max Johnson?
It's the kind of matchup from an LSU perspective that will give younger players some experience playing in Death Valley and be a momentum boost for the team heading into a tough Gainesville environment.
Prediction: LSU 51, Nicholls 10
Florida- Oct. 10, Gainesville, FL
LSU-Florida is one of those must see matchups every season and it'll be no different in 2020. Just how close have the Tigers’ recent head-to-heads with the Gators been?
Before last year's 42-28 win in Baton Rouge, six of the previous seven games were decided by one score or less. Florida returns starting quarterback Kyle Trask, who is arguably the best returning starter in the SEC next season.
In 12 games as a starter in 2019, Trask threw for 2,941 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The rivalry always seems to be the breakout point of a certain star or two. For LSU last year, it was running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Who will it be this year? Will LSU freshman tight end Arik Gilbert be a candidate to have a big game? Maybe one of the three running backs will establish himself as a bell cow.
Orgeron knows the importance of this matchup as he and the coaching staff have spent recent weeks creating gameplans for their various opponents. When Orgeron walked into the room for Florida week, he could tell the vibe was different.
"I could guarantee from our meeting on Monday morning our coaches could tell it was Florida week," Orgeron said. "When they walked out, some of the guys that haven't been with me before said 'Does he really think we're playing Florida on Saturday?' I know they're doing the same thing against us and so we've got to compete and prepare."
With that being said, Florida at home gives them the slight advantage. In another classic, the Gators pick up a last second field goal to earn the win over the national champs.
Prediction: Florida 31, LSU 28
Check back tomorrow as the heart of the SEC schedule (games 7-9) heats up, including a home date with the Crimson Tide.