LSU Football: The Ins and Outs, Highs and Lows of the 2012 Schedule

Randy ChambersAnalyst IApril 25, 2012

LSU Football: The Ins and Outs, Highs and Lows of the 2012 Schedule

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    Spring ball is all over for the LSU Tigers, and they'll take the next few months off before preparing for a return to the BCS National Championship Game. That gives us time to begin breaking things down to see where each team stacks up.

    The Tigers are returning 11 starters, and while that may not sound like a lot, many believe they'll be more talented than they were last season. The question now is, can they overcome such a brutal SEC schedule once again? Last year they ran through the regular season without any major issues and looked unstoppable until they got to the game that counted most.

    As we get closer to kicking off the regular season, here is your 2012 LSU Tigers complete schedule breakdown.

Easiest Game

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    The easiest game of the year for LSU is against the Towson Tigers. This is a team from the CAA conference, and the only thing these two schools have in common is that they both have the same mascot, the Tigers.

    Don't expect a tight game in this contest.

Toughest Game

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    We'll get to this game more later on, but to me this is the toughest matchup for the Tigers. Arkansas enters this season more complete than they were last season, and this time the game will take place at D.W.R. Razorback Stadium.

    This is one of the more intriguing contests on the Tigers schedule and should provide us with 60 minutes of fantastic football action.

Potential Blowout

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    This game is guaranteed to be a blowout as North Texas stands no chance against the Tigers. The Mean Green could be an interesting team in the Sun Belt this season, returning eight starters on offense, but won't come close to competing with LSU.

    Alabama beat down this team last season by a score of 41-0. Expect to see similar results with LSU.

Potential for Disaster

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    Last year's Auburn team didn't stand a chance as the LSU Tigers ended up winning the game by 35 points. Although with Auburn returning 19 starters, this team could be much better off in this meeting and cause a few headaches for this Tigers team.

    Quarterback Kiehl Frazier is an athletic kid who's capable of creating big plays for this offense and could put some points on the board. Auburn also has a solid backfield, and returning 10 starters on defense should help a unit that was terrible a season ago.

    This game is also being played in Jordan-Hare Stadium, a place where LSU has lost five of the last six meetings. Not saying Auburn will win this game, but a loss for LSU will cripple its season with so many tough matchups ahead.

Most Intriguing Matchup

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    Before the national championship blowout, the last five meetings between these two teams were decided by single-digits. The game will take place at Tigers Stadium, a place where the Crimson Tide has lost four of the last seven meetings. And with the way the Tigers season ended, you can expect them to play this game with a lot of emotion and with revenge on their mind.

    Alabama took a hit on the defensive side of the ball, but return seven starters on offense and should be a more balanced team this season. Once again this game will be hyped up and should provide us with another classic.

Trap Game

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    Washington could be a top 25 team and competing for a Pac-12 title, if its defense could actually stop somebody. Quarterback Keith Price is one of the top players in the game at his position and has the potential to take over any game and lead his team to victory against anybody.

    This is only the second game of the season, so it's important the Tigers are prepared and don't take this team lightly.

    Washington would like nothing more than to leave Tiger Stadium with a victory, and with the Huskies returning eight starters on both sides of the ball, it's not impossible that they could make things interesting.

Rivalry Game Prediction

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    The Tigers destroyed the Razorbacks last season by a margin of 24 points. They rattled quarterback Tyler Wilson all afternoon and cruised to an easy victory. But this season, Arkansas returns seven starters on offense and will get a healthy Knile Davis back at running back. In the 2010 victory over the Tigers, he rushed for 152 yards and scored a touchdown.

    I believe the Razorbacks are one of the more talented teams on the offensive side of the ball, and I believe it's good enough to carry them to an SEC title. With the losses on the defensive side of the ball to LSU, I'm not sure the Tigers' defense can get enough stops or their offense is balanced enough to keep up.

    I'll go with the home team in Arkansas in a close one.

    Arkansas wins: 35-28

Upset Special

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    LSU hasn't lost to South Carolina since 1994, but that streak may come to an end this season. The Gamecocks are one of the more underrated defensive units in the country. Their front-seven really gets after it, and with Alabama and LSU receiving most of the credit, many don't realize South Carolina had over 30 sacks last season and overall the defense was ranked third.

    But the thing that really gives the Gamecocks an edge in this one is their offense. Quarterback Connor Shaw has improved his game very quickly, and they'll get a healthy Heisman candidate in running back Marcus Lattimore.

    While many are focused on the big three in the SEC West, South Carolina is that team in the East that should not be slept on.

Heisman Highlight Game

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    Tyrann Mathieu was a Heisman candidate last season, but despite making nearly every big play for this team, he fell short of winning the award. You can bet he enters the year as one of the favorites, but will have to really stand out to become just the second defensive player to win the award.

    That's why I consider the game against Alabama to be his Heisman moment. In a game that will be hyped up as much as last year, Mathieu has to make several key plays to solidify himself as the true winner.

    This contest will feature many great defensive players, but if he's able to emerge, I don't think an argument will be made that he doesn't deserve to become the second LSU player to win the Heisman.

Must-Win Game

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    The games between these two teams are usually close and well-played matchups, but Florida is a team that's still trying to find themselves. The Gators do return 18 starters from a year ago and have enough talent to compete with the Tigers, although they're not as polished as the team from Baton Rouge is.

    This should be another well fought game, especially with it taking place in a tough atmosphere in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, but it's a game the Tigers have to win. After this matchup, LSU has to play South Carolina, Texas A&M and then the big game against Alabama.

    Putting yourself in a early hole is the last thing the Tigers can afford.