LSU-Florida State

LSU and Florida State announced they will play neutral-site games in the season openers in 2022 and 2023.

Two historic college football powers will meet for the first time in three decades.

LSU and Florida State have scheduled a two-game series in 2022 and 2023, the schools announced Tuesday morning.

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The first game will be played Sept. 4, 2022, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and the second will be played Sept. 3, 2023 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

LSU and Florida State will each receive $5.1 million for the 2022 game if both schools sell their full allotment of 30,000 tickets, according to the game contract between the schools and the Sugar Bowl.

"Our team looks forward to playing Florida State to open the 2022 and 2023 seasons," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said in a news release. "To play a traditional power like Florida State is a challenge that excites our team. Playing in New Orleans and Orlando is a great opportunity for us to showcase to recruits the LSU program. We look forward to playing anyone, anywhere, at any time."

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Florida State owns the all-time series over LSU with a 7-2 record, and the teams last played in Tiger Stadium in 1991, when the Seminoles won 27-16.

Sugar Bowl CEO Jeff Hundley said in the joint news release that the series has been in the works for "a few years," a project that included the schools, ESPN Events and Florida Citrus Sports, the managing body of the Citrus Bowl and the Camping World Bowl.

"LSU and Florida State are two of college football's most iconic brands, and we look forward to renewing this series," said Peter Derzis, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming. "When scheduling neutral-site games, our goal is always to provide fans and viewers an incredible matchup, and we feel we've done exactly that with these highly-anticipated events."

The agreement between the power programs is the first major football scheduling contract under LSU athletic director Scott Woodward, who joined the school in April 2019 after his predecessor, Joe Alleva, made a commitment to scheduling home-and-home games in response to fan blowback that followed nearly a decade of neutral-site games.

LSU made nearly $23 million off its seven game guarantees, starting with a 30-24 win over North Carolina in 2010 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, and concluding with a 33-17 win over Miami in the 2018 season opener in the same stadium.

LSU received $4.75 million for its game against Miami, a sum that, like the $5.1 million it will receive for the 2022 game against Florida State, will substantially bolster the school's athletic budget. The game contract alone could pay off an entire year's worth of expenses in a sport like women's basketball, which had total operating expenses of about $4.3 million in Fiscal 2019.

But Alleva knew Louisianans were growing weary of top-market games being played out-of-state, and the athletic department scheduled a series of home-and-home contracts that drew iconic football programs to Tiger Stadium: Texas (2020), UCLA (2024), Clemson (2026), Oklahoma (2028) and Arizona State (2029).

"Our fans have been anxious for us to play quality opponents in Tiger Stadium," Alleva told The Advocate in 2018.  "Those games are not as financially lucrative for us; we hardly get any money when we go on the road (in a traditional home-and-home contract with an opponent). So, it’s a balance between the financial side of it and providing quality entertainment for our fans."

Neither Woodward or Florida State athletic director David Coburn gave public comment in the joint news release, but reservations about another neutral-site game popping up on LSU and Florida State's schedules are somewhat solved by the games being played in each team's home state.

The Superdome is just over an hour's drive from Tiger Stadium. Camping World Stadium is a bit further, about a four-hour drive south from Tallahassee.

Such games have also produced substantial economic boosts. When the Superdome hosted the national championship in 2012, the game generated more than $260 million for the New Orleans and regional economy.

"We have two nationally recognized programs within driving distance of New Orleans," Hundley said. "We're expecting a big and enthusiastic crowd here for Labor Day Weekend in 2022. It should be fun."

There won't be the same stakes as the LSU-Clemson matchup in the Superdome in January — when the Tigers won the program's fourth national championship in school history — and it's uncertain how successful either football program will be once 2022 arrives.

LSU has reached its peak under Orgeron, who owns a 40-9 record in Baton Rouge and recently signed a six-year contract worth about $41million, which signifies the expectations for his program in the future.

Florida State is hovering above rock bottom. The Seminoles are coming off two straight losing seasons, a brutal era for a program that has only had 12 total losing seasons since 1954.

The troubles began in 2017 when Florida State started 5-6 under former coach Jimbo Fisher, who was hired away by Woodward at Texas A&M with a 10-year, $75 million contract.

Fisher's successor, Willie Taggart, went 9-12 and was fired in the middle of his second season, just after the Seminoles lost 27-10 to Miami on Nov. 2.

Former Memphis coach Mike Norvell was hired by Florida State in December, and the Seminoles finished off the 2020 recruiting cycle with the nation's No. 22-ranked class, according to 247Sports.

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(Feb. 12, 2020): This story has been updated. A previous version stated LSU began its series of neutral-site games in 2011.


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Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.