In a year when many SEC programs are preparing to feast on weak out-of-conference schedules, LSU's may have the weakest appetizers of all. The Tigers open at Washington (0-12 last fall) and subsequently host in-state pushovers Louisiana Lafayette (6-6), Tulane (2-10) and Louisiana Tech (8-5).
For those keeping score at home, LSU's four non-league foes went a combined 16-33 last fall, a winning percentage of just 32.6.
Miles' Tigers may need some breathers, however, since their conference schedule for 2009 is pretty salty. Their three SEC East foes are Vanderbilt and the top two teams in the division, Florida and Georgia. Worse, the Tigers play those last two on back-to-back weekends, visiting the Dawgs Oct. 3 and hosting the Gators on Oct. 10.
Moreover, the two teams who represent LSU's most challenging intradivisional tests must be played on the road. The Tigers visit Alabama Nov. 7 and travel to Ole Miss two weeks later.
On a positive note, LSU should benefit from having its open date fall exactly at the season's midpoint. The Tigers play six games, enjoy an off week to recharge their batteries, then play their last six games.
Miles' men have an excellent chance to start 4-0 since the first four games are at Washington, vs. Vanderbilt, vs. Louisiana Lafayette and at Mississippi State. They may need to build up a good head of steam, though, since Games 5 and 6 are the crucial outings at Georgia and vs. Florida.
Bottom line: LSU is a virtual lock to go 4-0 in non-conference action. It's hard to imagine the Tigers beating defending national champ Florida at home, however, and it's just as difficult to imagine them beating Alabama, Georgia and Ole Miss on the road. In other words, this looks like an 8-4 or 9-3 season in Baton Rouge.