Last Modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:05 PM
The long-delayed 2014 Southeastern Conference football schedule is finally chiseled in stone.
And, on paper, it appears far more equitable for LSU fans who have complained that Alabama always seems to get a scheduling break.
The Tigers, who play Florida as their permanent East Division opponent every year, next season will trade in Georgia for a home game with Kentucky as their other cross-divisional game.
Alabama, which plays Tennessee from the East every year and this year also gets Kentucky, next season will get Florida instead of the Wildcats.
LSU will open and close the 2014 regular season in Texas — kicking off with a neutral-site game against Wisconsin in Houston’s Reliant Stadium and finishing with a Thanksgiving Day game at Texas A&M.
Texas A&M replaces Arkansas as the Tigers’ final regular-season game. It will be LSU’s first game played on Thanksgiving Day since 1973, when the Tigers hosted Alabama.
The Tigers will play at Arkansas, either in Little Rock or Fayetteville, on Nov. 15, then have an open date before finishing with the Aggies in College Station.
Arkansas will close the season against Missouri, an oddity in that the league does not normally play cross-division games the final week because, technically, it could lead to a rematch the following Saturday in the SEC championship game.
LSU’s other nonconference opponents in 2014 will be Sam Houston State (Sept. 6), Louisiana-Monroe (Sept. 13) and New Mexico State (Sept. 27).
The schedule, released by the conference office on Wednesday, is still a “bridge” schedule and not a permanent rotation — i.e., just because Kentucky moves onto LSU’s schedule for the 2014 season does not necessarily mean the Tigers will play at Kentucky the following season. It still utilizes the 6-1-1 formula with games against all six division opponents, one permanent cross-division opponent and another rotating in.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in a release that the league hopes to have a permanent scheduling format in place for the 2016 season.
“The 6-1-1 format will continue until a new format is approved by the conference membership,” Slive said.
There has been speculation that the league may expand to a nine-game conference schedule, and LSU has been one of the schools fighting to have permanent opponents eliminated.
Other notes from the 2014 schedule:
• Arkansas and South Carolina are apparently no longer permanent cross-division rivals, as they’ve been since both joined the SEC for the 1992 season. They won’t play in 2014. Arkansas instead is picking up Missouri while South Carolina gets Texas A&M.
• The calendar will again allow for two open dates in a 14-week schedule.
• There will be at least one conference game for all 13 playing dates.
• The SEC Network will debut on Thursday, Aug. 28, with Texas A&M playing at South Carolina.
Aug. 30 — LSU vs. Wisconsin (in Houston)
Sept. 6 — LSU vs. Sam Houston
Sept. 13 — LSU vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 20 — LSU vs. Mississippi State
Sept. 27 — LSU vs. New Mexico State
Oct. 4 — LSU at Auburn
Oct. 11 — LSU at Florida
Oct. 18 — LSU vs. Kentucky
Oct. 25 — LSU vs. Ole Miss
Nov. 1 — Open
Nov. 8 — LSU vs. Alabama
Nov. 15 — LSU at Arkansas (Little Rock or Fayetteville)
Nov. 22 — Open
Nov. 27 — LSU at Texas A&M
Dec. 6 — SEC (Atlanta)