GAME 1: McNeese State

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 5

WHERE: Tiger Stadium

TV: SEC Network Alternate

Early storyline

A promising season in 2014 ended on a sour note for the Cowboys: They dropped their last three games to finish 6-5 overall, 4-4 in the Southland. There is reason for optimism; McNeese returns nine offensive and seven defensive starters, plus gets a boost from defensive tackle Isaiah Golden, a Texas A&M transfer.

History with LSU

The Cowboys made their first trip to Tiger Stadium in 2010, losing 32-10. Overall, LSU is 13-0 against current members of the Southland, the bulk of that record an 11-0 mark against Northwestern State.

Threat level

LOW: The biggest threat in this game is LSU itself. The Tigers have the quarterback issue to settle and need to get some real game experience in new coordinator Kevin Steele’s defense.

Prediction

LSU 45, McNeese State 10

-- LSU’S RECORD: 1-0

GAME 2: at Mississippi State

WHEN: 8:15 p.m. Sept. 12

WHERE: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Miss.

TV: ESPN

Early storyline

The Bulldogs won 34-29 in Tiger Stadium last year, their first victory over LSU since 1999 and first in Baton Rouge since 1991. State will try to post back-to-back wins over LSU for the first time since 1990-91. The Bulldogs were hit hard by graduation and the draft but return All-SEC quarterback Dak Prescott.

History with LSU

LSU has played more games against Mississippi State (108) and has more wins (71) over the Bulldogs than any other opponent. Even with last year’s result, the Tigers have won 21 of 23 against State.

Threat level

HIGH: If you remember how Prescott riddled the Tigers last year (373 total yards, three TDs), you know even the diminished Bulldogs will pack some bite. LSU should be favored, but this will be a tough test.

Prediction

LSU 26, Mississippi State 23

-- LSU’S RECORD: 2-0, 1-0 Southeastern

GAME 3: Auburn

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Sept. 19

WHERE: Tiger Stadium

TV: CBS

Early storyline

Auburn is the slight conference favorite because of two men: new quarterback Jeremy Johnson and new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. There are huge expectations for both — especially Muschamp, who was defensive coordinator at Auburn from 2006-07 not long after leaving LSU. Expectations and Auburn often don’t mix, though.

History with LSU

Last year’s 41-7 rout at Auburn aside, LSU has held the upper hand under Les Miles, leading 7-3. Death Valley has been where Auburn’s dreams have gone to die; AU hasn’t won in Tiger Stadium since 1999.

Threat level

HIGH: If there is a year Auburn could break its losing streak in Baton Rouge, this is it. Auburn’s rocket could take off here or blow up on the launch pad.

Prediction

Auburn 31, LSU 23

-- LSU’S RECORD: 2-1, 1-1 Southeastern

GAME 4: at Syracuse

WHEN: Sept. 26 (time and TV TBA)

WHERE: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

Early storyline

The Orange opens its second year in the ACC trying to find its footing after a dismal 3-9 mark. If you think LSU has trouble throwing the ball, consider Syracuse: The Orange was second to last in the nation in passing efficiency last year.

History with LSU

This will be the first regular-season meeting between the Tigers and Orange, though they have played twice in bowl games. LSU beat Syracuse 13-10 in the 1965 Sugar Bowl, while Syracuse bested LSU 23-10 in the 1989 Hall of Fame (now Outback) Bowl.

Threat level

LOW: For LSU, there is inherent danger in playing an unfamiliar opponent in an unfamiliar place. Think the 2009 opener at Washington, a 31-23 LSU win. But from a pure talent standpoint, this is a mismatch.

Prediction

LSU 34, Syracuse 16

-- LSU’S RECORD: 3-1

GAME 5: Eastern Michigan

WHEN: Oct. 3 (time and TV TBA)

WHERE: Tiger Stadium

Early storyline

It’s six miles from EMU’s stadium in Ypsilanti to Ann Arbor, so this is as close as LSU will get to playing Michigan in the regular season while Les Miles is coach. The Eagles, 2-10 in 2014, are struggling to improve under second-year coach Chris Creighton, having won a combined six games the past three seasons.

History with LSU

This is the first meeting between the Tigers and Eagles and just the second game for LSU against a school from Michigan. The Tigers beat Nick Saban’s Michigan State in the 1995 Independence Bowl.

Threat level

NONE: The Eagles are the definition of a rent-a-win. Longtime LSU fans may have flashbacks to Miami (Ohio) in 1986, but fear not: This is the easiest touch on the Tigers’ schedule.

Prediction

LSU 47, Eastern Michigan 6

-- LSU’S RECORD: 4-1

GAME 6: at South Carolina

WHEN: Oct. 10 (time and TV TBA)

WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.

Early storyline

From Steve Spurrier’s rant against South Carolina’s “enemies” to a disappointing 7-6 record in 2014, this was a disquieting offseason. The Gamecocks defense was fried chicken last year: 13th in the SEC in yards allowed (432.7), 12th in points (30.4) as Carolina blew three fourth-quarter leads of at least 13 points.

History with LSU

The Tigers have dominated, leading 17-2-1 including a 23-21 upset of then-No. 3 South Carolina in Tiger Stadium in 2012. LSU won in its last trip to Columbia, 24-17 in 2008. Spurrier once owned LSU, but he’s 0-3 with South Carolina.

Threat level

MODERATE: How many times under Les Miles has LSU sweated out a win against an inferior opponent? This shapes up to be one of those games.

Prediction

LSU 25, South Carolina 20

-- LSU’S RECORD: 5-1, 2-1 Southeastern

GAME 7: Florida

WHEN: Oct. 17 (time and TV TBA)

WHERE: Tiger Stadium

Early storyline

After four moribund seasons with Will Muschamp, Florida is under new management with Jim McElwain, the former Alabama offensive coordinator and Colorado State coach. McElwain’s first task was to settle on Treon Harris as his quarterback, hoping to pump life back into a once-feared offense.

History with LSU

LSU’s annual opponent since 1971, Florida leads the all-time series 31-26-3, though the Tigers narrowed the gap in recent years. LSU has won six of 10 under Les Miles, including 30-27 in Gainesville last year.

Threat level

LOW: The Gators are stout defensively, led by All-America cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, but are a mess offensively. It will take McElwain time to restore success in Gainesville — if he ever can.

Prediction

LSU 27, Florida 13

-- LSU’S RECORD: 6-1, 3-1 Southeastern

GAME 8: Western Kentucky

WHEN: Oct. 24 (time and TV TBA)

WHERE: Tiger Stadium

Early storyline

The Hilltoppers have a scary good offense built around Brandon Doughty, who led the nation with 4,830 yards and 49 passing touchdowns. WKU’s defense is also a fright, allowing nearly 510 yards per game, though nine starters return.

History with LSU

The Tigers and Hilltoppers have met only once, with LSU rolling to a 42-9 win in Tiger Stadium in 2011. The Tigers are 64-15-5 against current Conference USA members, most of those games coming against Rice (37-13-5) and Louisiana Tech (18-1).

Threat level

MODERATE: The Hilltoppers will score points, but at this point it’s a safe bet LSU will be able to play keep-away by pounding away with its running game against a mostly undersized WKU front seven.

Prediction

LSU 45, Western Kentucky 27

-- LSU’S RECORD: 7-1

GAME 9: at Alabama

WHEN: Nov. 7 (time and TV TBA)

WHERE: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Early storyline

Everyone expected Jake Coker to grab the QB job last year after transferring from Florida State. It didn’t happen. Coker lost out to Blake Sims and now is in a fight with redshirt freshman David Cornwell and freshman Blake Barnett.

History with LSU

The Tigers were gaining on the Crimson Tide for a while under Miles (he’s 5-6), but Bama has won four straight to build its longest winning streak in the series since 1989-92 and take a 49-25-5 lead overall. The road team is 23-9-1 in this series since 1982.

Threat level

HIGH: Alabama appears to have come back to the pack, but it would be foolish to think the Tide has fallen behind. Seven of the teams’ past 11 meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer.

Prediction

Alabama 24, LSU 17

-- LSU’S RECORD: 7-2, 3-2 Southeastern

GAME 10: Arkansas

WHEN: Nov. 14 (time and TV TBA)

WHERE: Tiger Stadium

Early storyline

The Razorbacks are the talk of the SEC West after breaking through with wins against LSU, Ole Miss and Texas to finish 7-6. A season-ending injury to RB Jonathan Williams (1,190 rushing yards) is a blow, putting more of the load on Alex Collins (1,100 yards).

History with LSU

The Tigers lead the series 37-21-2, including 11-2-1 in Baton Rouge. The Tigers pulled out a 31-27 win at home in 2013, Anthony Jennings’ 49-yard bomb to Travin Dural with 1:15 left the decisive blow.

Threat level

HIGH: LSU is 6-4 against Arkansas under Miles, but eight of those games have been decided by eight or fewer points. The Razorbacks are improving, so this figures to be another tight one.

Prediction

LSU 24, Arkansas 23

-- LSU’S RECORD: 8-2, 4-2 Southeastern

GAME 11: at Ole Miss

WHEN: Nov. 21 (time and TV TBA)

WHERE: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Miss.

Early storyline

Which team will Ole Miss be? The one that started 7-0, or the one that lost four of its last six, including blowout losses to Arkansas and TCU in the Peach Bowl? The Rebels remain the SEC’s biggest enigma.

History with LSU

None of LSU’s football rivalries is filled with more dramatic moments than the one with Ole Miss. Billy Cannon’s punt return. Bert Jones to Brad Davis. “Clocking” the ball in 2009. Even Ronald Martin’s goal-line interception in last year’s 10-7 LSU win, giving the Tigers a 59-40-4 lead in the series.

Threat level

HIGH: The Rebels have a host of All-America candidates — Laremy Tunsil, Tony Conner, Laquon Treadwell, Robert Nkemdiche — but still lack depth and have a baggage-laden quarterback in Chad Kelly.

Prediction

Ole Miss 17, LSU 13

-- LSU’S RECORD: 8-3, 4-3 Southeastern

GAME 12: Texas A&M

WHEN: Nov. 28 (time and TV TBA)

WHERE: Tiger Stadium

Early storyline

Welcome to the inaugural John Chavis Bowl. This was already a long-simmering feud, but now that Chavis bolted for A&M right after the Music City Bowl, this game has gone to another level. The winner gets a ticker-tape parade of shredded lawsuits.

History with LSU

The Tigers lead 30-20-3, having won the past four. LSU won 23-17 in College Station last Thanksgiving and 34-10 in Tiger Stadium in 2013. This is A&M’s second visit to Baton Rouge since 1994.

Threat level

HIGH: Make all the Aggie jokes you want, but Chavis will improve A&M’s last-place defense. The Aggies return eight starters on both sides, including QB Kyle Allen and SEC sacks leader Myles Garrett.

Prediction

LSU 27, Texas A&M 20

-- LSU’S RECORD: 9-3, 5-3 Southeastern