Many expected the LSU football team to roll through September unblemished.
It didn’t happen.
The Tigers lost the very first time they took the field, which led to a slew of roster changes, including the beginning of the Danny Etling Era in Baton Rouge.
But now, things will get a little bit tougher.
October is a pretty tough month for the Tigers – one which will see the team face the meat of its SEC schedule.
Here are the LSU opponents. The Tigers have legitimate challenges in every, single contest.
LSU’s OCTOBER SLATE
Game 5 – vs. Missouri
Oct. 1, 6:30 p.m.
Missouri has been in the SEC for a while, but the first day of October will mark the first time LSU locks horns with their new conference foe. Missouri is a program in transition – a team which has won the SEC East since their arrival in the conference, but has since faded heavily downward toward mediocrity. The SEC East version of the Tigers were 5-7 last year, and opened the season playing .500 ball, losing to West Virginia in the opener and then dominating Eastern Michigan after that. Offensively, Missouri is led by Drew Lock, a quarterback which started the season 47-of-88 with six touchdowns in his first two games. Defensively, Missouri is rebuilding, and is prone to give up points. Michael Scherer, Thomas Wilson and Anthony Sherrils are among the team’s top tacklers. LSU will be favored to win this contest by multiple scores, and if they play well, this should be one of their easiest conference games.
Dig’s Quick Pick? LSU 31, Missouri 9
Game 6 – @ Florida
Oct. 8, 11 a.m.
LSU and Florida are on opposite sides of the SEC chase. But because of conference politics, the Tigers lock horns with the Gators every, single season, which makes this annual game one of the most anticipated of the entire SEC schedule. Last year, the Tigers trumped Florida by a single touchdown – thanks to some Les Miles magic, namely a fake field goal, which resulted in a touchdown. This year, the teams figure to be fairly evenly matched again, and the game may come down to quarterback play. The Gators start Luke Del Rio – a trusted hand in a depth chart that’s seen multiple changes in the past six months. Defensively, Florida is sound, having allowed just 14 points combined in their first two games to start the season – a unit led by linebacker Alex Anzalone and massive lineman Jordan Sherit.
Dig’s Quick Pick? LSU 24, Florida 20
Game 7 – vs. Southern Miss
Oct. 15, Time TBD
LSU fans will likely exhale if the Tigers are able to come out of the Florida game unscathed, but the team’s next game against Southern Miss is no joke. Those Golden Eagles can really play at a high level. LSU’s only non-conference matchup in October will be against the boys from Mississippi – a matchup that will be Southern Miss’s second battle with an SEC team in the season. The first was triumphant. The Golden Eagles kicked off their 2016 season with a 44-35 victory over Kentucky – a win which showed many the quality of football the Golden Eagles can play. Nick Mullens leads Southern Miss under center, but the team’s one-two running back punch of Ito Smith and George Payne do a lion’s share of the team’s damage. LSU has more talent than Southern Miss. But if taken lightly, this could be a close game in the second half and fourth quarter.
Dig’s Quick Pick? LSU 41, Southern Miss 20
Game 8 – vs. Ole Miss
Oct. 22, Time TBD
And now, it’s time for October’s main event. After battling the Tigers, Gators and Golden Eagles (oh my), LSU will take on Ole Miss – one of the team’s oldest and most storied rivals. As always, Ole Miss is a talented group, a squad led by arguably the SEC’s best quarterback in Chad Kelly. But like LSU, the Rebels are capable of being beaten. They blew a big lead in Week 1 and fell to Florida State – one of many losses LSU took in the first weekend of the conference season. The Rebels have Kelly back, but they were one of the SEC teams hit hardest by graduation, so they’ve spent the first month of the season rounding out their depth chart. But by late-October, they will have answers for a lot of those unanswered questions. Aside from Alabama, this may be the team’s toughest and most formidable foe of the season.
Dig’s Quick Pick? LSU 28, Ole Miss 27
Photo: LSU vs. Jacksonville State by Sean Gasser.