LSU: How Tough Non-Conference Schedule Can Affect Tigers Down the Road

Jacob KerrContributor IAugust 14, 2011

Les Miles has a tough test this season not only within the conference but also outside of the conference.
Les Miles has a tough test this season not only within the conference but also outside of the conference.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The LSU football team kicks off the season September 3 against the Oregon Ducks. Many are in great anticipation for this game, but could that game and also a road trip up to Morgantown, West Virginia on September 24 hurt the Tigers' chances of winning a national championship this year?

To start the argument, it can be said that SEC teams generally play a light non-conference schedule and this is true. So scheduling tougher teams for the SEC would help prove their dominance over college football, and that's not a bad thing. Also, it can be said that the soft non-conference schedule helps the SEC in the long run because of the five consecutive national championships.

First, you can look at LSU in 2003, when they won the title. They played UL Monroe, Arizona, Western Illinois and Louisiana Tech. In 2007, they played a hurting Virginia Tech team, Middle Tennessee, Tulane and Louisiana Tech, none of whom make for a tough non-conference schedule.

Then, someone looks at Florida's non-conference schedule from 2006 and 2008 when they won their championships as they played Southern Miss, UCF and Western Carolina in 2006 and Hawaii, Miami (FL) and The Citadel in 2008.

Next, Alabama played Virginia Tech, FIU, North Texas and Chattanooga during their championship year in 2009. Lastly, Auburn played Arkansas State, Clemson, UL-Monroe and Chattanooga during the title run in 2010.

It can be said that the SEC plays a lackluster schedule, but then again, can a team really make it to the National Championship Game after having to play a grueling schedule throughout the whole year?

If someone looks at past national champions and championship participants, those teams generally do not play tough non-conference schedules.

Of the teams that I named, the teams that they played against had similar to worse non-conference schedules then the winning team did.

So with all that being said, how does this affect LSU? Well, they have two teams ranked in the top 25 that they have to play. None of those teams had more than one ranked top-25 non-conference opponent that was not in the bowl game.

This will hurt them greatly because, unlike the rest of the NCAA, most of the games in the SEC are highly contested games in which players nearly kill themselves every week.

In conclusion, though it is nice to see SEC teams play other top-ranked teams to show off how powerful they are, it is also really not a good idea due to he fact that every team in the SEC plays some of the toughest competition already.

As an LSU fan, I enjoy watching LSU play other high-profile teams outside the SEC, I'm just concerned with the fact that playing two teams in the top 25 for a non-conference schedule outside a bowl game could really hurt them down the stretch of the season.