Well, for those of you who were with us a year ago, you may or may not remember my LSU pre-game. Here it is for those of you who never read it. This won't be anything like that. I'm sticking to a normal prediction. For any of you who have paid attention for the past four weeks, my predictions have been 100% spot on, so why quit a good thing? (I predicted a loss to Arkansas, a win over Auburn, a win over Northern Arizona, and a loss to Tennessee.)
So here's my attempt to properly convey what I think will happen this Saturday in front a national audience.
Last year, we made an already bad (by LSU standards) season worse for the Bayou Bengals. They were reeling, having not met fan expectations. However, they could still right the ship so to speak with a victory over the Rebels at home and a trip to Fayetteville to take on the hapless Razorbacks.
Then Jevan Snead happened. Jevan played the best game of his life, and LSU couldn't answer. Jordan Jefferson finally took over as starter, but he was unsuccesful against the defense, and the Rebels were victorious. LSU went on to lose to Arkansas, leaving them reeling at 7-5.
Sound terrible? It could certainly happen to us.
Yes. In many ways, this season mirrors LSU's of yesteryear... I'm 100% sure that's not the right way to use that word, but I don't care. It's a cool word. We're 7-3 with our offense struggling more than we had expected after having lost two pivotal pieces. For us, it's Michael Oher and Mike Wallace. For LSU, it was Ryan Perriloux and Jacob Hester. We blindly put faith into our coaches that they could turn backups into new stars capable of replacing those who had departed. Unfortunately, they weren't. Like LSU of 2008, the 2009 Rebels are staring at two games with a chance to go 9-3 and a shot at 7-5. For our fan base to stay solidly behind the current coaching staff, that has to be the end of the comparison. We can't lose to our Magnolia bowl rival then drop a game to a team that has nothing for which to play (I'm predicting a State loss to Arkansas.)
I predict a defensive battle. I know that's going way out on a limb considering the state of both offenses relative to their corresponding defenses, but it had to be said anyway. The defensive nature of this game essentially means that the offense with the most big plays will win the game. I don't anticipate many sustained drives that eat up the clock and end in touchdowns.
LSU's passing offense should click more than ours, considering that the Tigers have a quarterback who isn't throwing picks (Jordan Jefferson), two receivers that are capable of making big plays (Terrance Toliver and Brandon LaFell), and a veteran offensive line (anchored by Ciron Black), but LSU hasn't lit up ANY secondaries this season, only passing for over 200 yards three times in ten games. Ole Miss' secondary and pass rushers should be tested, but we've done relatively well in that area against much better passing attacks this season. It would be foolish to think we won't hold Jefferson in check.
LSU's running game suffered a setback two weeks ago when it was announced that Charles Scott would sit the rest of the season out with a broken collarbone. Scott wasn't the best back in the SEC by any standards, but he was averaging 4.7 yards per carry for the Tigers and won the game for them against UGA. Keiland Williams stepped in where Scott left off versus Louisiana Tech, rushing for 116 yards on only 15 carries, but Louisiana Tech is 3-7, and running yards were expectedly easy to come by in that contest. The Rebels are performing well against opposing running games, ranking fifth in the conference and looking better every week (save the hiccup that was Ben Tate).
So as always, my concern for the Rebels lies not along the defensive side of the ball. It's that pesky other unit that has to move it.
Since I've been wrong in my prediction for five out of the six SEC games I'll predict an LSU win by 30.
What's your prediction?