LSU officially releases 2014 schedule

Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING LSU running back Jeremy Hill darts ahead of Texas A&M defenders en route to the end zone during last year's game at Kyle Field.
Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING LSU running back Jeremy Hill darts ahead of Texas A&M defenders en route to the end zone during last year's game at Kyle Field.

LSU to open season against Wisconsin in Houston

The LSU Tigers will start and end the 2014 regular season in Texas.

The Southeastern Conference released its 2014 football schedule Wednesday, allowing LSU to make its schedule plans official.

The Tigers will open the 2014 season Aug. 30 against Wisconsin in the Advocare Texas Kickoff at Reliant Stadium. LSU will close next year’s campaign Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, at Texas A&M.

It will be LSU’s first game on Thanksgiving day since a 21-7 loss at home to Alabama in 1973. Texas A&M traditionally played its annual rivalry game with Texas on Thanksgiving day before leaving the Big 12 Conference to join the SEC in 2012.

The SEC also announced LSU’s rotating opponent from the SEC East will be Kentucky. The Wildcats visit Tiger Stadium on Oct. 18.

LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said both LSU and Texas A&M wanted to play each other to end the regular season, but the Thanksgiving day game was at A&M’s request.

“It’s their home game,” Alleva said, “so they get to schedule it the way they want.

“I’m not a big fan of Thanksgiving day (games) myself. But it’s their game, and I agreed to do it if we got a bye the week before.”

LSU will have an open date the week of Nov. 22.

Alleva confirmed an earlier report that LSU will not agree to play the Aggies in Tiger Stadium on Thanksgiving day.

“We will continue to play on Friday or Saturday” after Thanksgiving, he said.

Alleva said the season-ending game will benefit both programs.

“It’s already a rivalry,” he said. “It’s a great way to cap the season.”

Texas A&M Athletic Director Eric Hyman said college football’s rivalry weekend is “the perfect home” for the LSU-A&M game.

“Texas A&M and LSU has always been one of our nation’s best rivalries,” Hyman said in a statement. “It has all the trappings of a great rivalry — passionate fan bases, bordering states, close proximity, unmatched traditions and history.”

To make room for A&M at the end of LSU’s schedule, the SEC moved up the Tigers’ game against Arkansas to Nov. 15.

Arkansas has been LSU’s regular-season finale since the Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1992. The only exception was 2001 when LSU ended the season with a rescheduled game against Auburn because of the 9/11 attacks.

The 2014 LSU-Arkansas game will be played in Fayetteville or Little Rock. The Tigers and Razorbacks met in Fayetteville last season for the first time since 1992 and play in Tiger Stadium this season on Friday, Nov. 29.

The LSU-Wisconsin game will be the Tigers’ first game in the city of Houston since a 24-10 win over Rice at Rice Stadium in 1983.

The Tigers and Badgers are also set to open the 2016 season on Sept. 3 against each other at Lambeau Field, the legendary home of the Green Bay Packers.

LSU’s other 2014 nonconference games are Sept. 6 against Sam Houston State, Sept. 13 against UL-Monroe, and Sept. 27 against New Mexico State.

All three of those games will be in Tiger Stadium. Sam Houston State replaces a previously announced contest with Georgia Southern, which Alleva said will be moved to a later season.

LSU’s other SEC home games in 2014 will be against Mississippi State on Sept. 20, Ole Miss on Oct. 25 and Alabama on Nov. 8. The Tigers’ remaining SEC road slate includes games at Auburn on Oct. 4 and Florida on Oct. 11.

LSU’s first open date in 2014 will be the week of Nov. 1, marking the sixth straight year the Tigers are idle the week before playing Alabama.

The SEC schedule will be for 2014 only and doesn’t guarantee LSU will play Kentucky again in 2015. The SEC is still working on creating a long-term scheduling format for 2016 and beyond.

Florida remains LSU’s permanent opponent under the SEC’s current 6-1-1 schedule. In that format, LSU plays all six teams from the SEC West, Florida, and rotates the other six opponents from the East.

LSU officials have lobbied aggressively the past two years to eliminate permanent opponents in favor of rotating everyone from the other division. The SEC is considering a variety of eight- and nine-game scheduling options.

“I think we’ve opened a lot of eyes about the fairness of permanent partners,” Alleva said Wednesday on a Baton Rouge radio talk show. “We’ve made a good case to the presidents and chancellors. In their hearts, the (athletic directors) know I’m right, but they vote in their own self-interests because they want an opponent they can beat.”

The Tigers will host Florida on Oct. 12 this season and play at Georgia, their rotating opponent, on Sept. 28.

Next year’s game will be the first between LSU and Kentucky in football since 2011.

The Tigers and Wildcats played every year from 1952-2002 but only three times since then. LSU leads the all-time series 39-16-1.