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LSU celebrates Tiger Stadium expansion by opening 2014 at an NFL stadium

LSU football has a commitment to neutral-site games. But with one of the best home field advantages in all of sports, are paycheck kickoff games really worth it?

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LSU recently announced an expanded stadium capacity of 102,321 entering the 2014 season. Combined with Death Valley's historic appeal and universal acclaim for some of the most unhinged atmospheres in all of sport, there's no question Les Miles loves that home-field advantage.

"We like playing at home. There isn't any question. We enjoy walking down the hill to that stadium. We enjoy the style of people that come in there who are intimately attached to our football team. The opponent has a very difficult time getting the ball snapped," Miles said Wednesday.

So why are the Tigers opening 2014 in Houston's NRG Stadium against Wisconsin in a game that still hasn't sold out (capacity: 71,000)? Money, of course! But while neutral-site games can be exciting for TV and help promote the program, they also have their drawbacks. Attendance is declining nationwide, and as hard as it is to get fans to on-campus games, it's even tougher to get them to travel to Texas. Tickets to this year's opener against Wisconsin are still available, despite the stadium being much smaller than Tiger Stadium and the Badgers being a premier non-conference opponent.

"We also understand that when you're playing a very quality opponent in a neutral-site game, when you're going to be challenged, there's a real necessity to answer that challenge that allows a level of play that you need to start the season with. There's some advantages to that. Houston's right down the street for us. It's a very quality place to play at and to recruit to," he said.

Between 2010 and 2016, LSU will have played neutral-site games in five of those seasons, most of them in Texas. The Tigers also have a neutral-site game (to be determined) against Penn State scheduled for 2020. Of the games in the current stretch, LSU has done well for itself.

Year Location Opponent Score
2010 Atlanta, GA (Georgia Dome) North Carolina W, 30-24
2011 Arlington, TX (Cowboys Stadium) Oregon W, 40-27
2013 Arlington, TX (AT&T Stadium) TCU W, 37-27
2014 Houston, TX (NRG Stadium) Wisconsin TBD
2016 Green Bay, WI (Lambeau Field) Wisconsin TBD

The Lambeau Field game will be new territory for the Tigers. It will be the first neutral-site game in which they have a definitive fan disadvantage, and it's much farther north than most SEC teams are willing to play.

Bonus: Best Miles quotes from 2014 SEC Media Days

Kevin Trahan contributed to this story.