After some consternation from BYU fans over scheduling edicts from the Southeastern Conference, the Cougars have scheduled another SEC foe. BYU will take on the LSU Tigers in the 2017 season opener on Sept. 2, with the game to be played at NRG Stadium in Houston for that season's Advocare Texas Kickoff.
Once upon the time (it was very recently), the SEC decided all of its teams must play one power-5 opponent in their non-conference schedules every season. It was also learned that BYU would not count in that consideration. Tom Holmoe has since scheduled a neutral-and-home with Missouri and a made-for-TV special against LSU.
LSU associate athletic director Verge Ausberry told The Advocate that his school will make $4-5 million from the game.
During the 2013 season, Bronco Mendenhall mentioned LSU as a possible future opponent.
The Advocare Texas Kickoff is partnered with ESPN Events and will certainly be aired on ESPN. LSU defeated Wisconsin in the 2014 iteration on a fourth-quarter comeback.
The game is set to send BYU back to the home of the Houston Texans (once known as Reliant Stadium -- the deregulated energy business in Texas is hard to keep up with) for the first time since the Cougars' wild 47-46 win over the Houston Cougars on Oct. 19, 2013.
It is set to be the first-ever matchup between LSU and BYU. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe the two schools were once slated to play in 2004 but the game was cancelled. I want to say BYU backed out to keep its schedule from being too ridiculous, which would have been a good move. The Cougars played USC, Boise State, and Utah that season, all of whom finished the regular season undefeated, and also hosted Notre Dame.
I do hope the agreement can open the door to future games with LSU, as playing in Death Valley would be special. And I'll always hold out hope it can turn into a home-home-neutral three-game series that would bring an SEC team to Provo for the first time since 2000 (if the Missouri game in 2020 doesn't happen first.) A man can dream.
The deal adds a much-needed marquee game to the 2017 schedule and gives BYU nine decided opponents for that season, with four home, four road, and one neutral game:
2017 SCHEDULE TO DATE
Sept 2: vs. LSU
Sept 9: Utah
Sept 29: at Utah State
Oct 7: Boise State
Oct 21: at East Carolina
Oct 28: San Jose State
Nov. 4: at Fresno State
Nov. 18: UMass
Nov. 25: at Hawaii
BYU's version of the press release includes quotes from Tom Holmoe and Bronco Mendenhall:
"Any football team or fan who loves the game would be thrilled to have the chance to play a traditional powerhouse like LSU of the SEC in an awesome venue like NRG Stadium. We are excited and grateful for the invitation to play in such a great game."
"As a program we want to play the biggest names on the biggest stages and facing LSU at NRG Stadium certainly achieves both of those objectives. We look forward to this challenge and opportunity to play an outstanding SEC team. It's another unique marquee matchup for our football program and our fans."
While it is still tough sledding to get quality opponents to Provo, games like this are never bad for the program.