The opening weekend of the college football season often features lopsided score lines and this will almost certainly be the case when North Texas travels to face LSU.
The Tigers fell just short of a national championship last season when they were defeated 21-0 by Alabama. Les Miles will lead his perennial powerhouse program into this year as the No. 3-ranked team in AP Top 25.
North Texas is severely overmatched. It ended last year with a 4-4 record in the Sun Belt Conference. The Mean Green finished 5-7 overall and did not qualify for a bowl game.
Here is all the info for LSU’s season opener against North Texas.
Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
When: Saturday, September 1, 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Listen: KHYI 95.3 (North Texas), 98.1 FM, Geaux Zone (LSU)
Betting Line: LSU -43, via Sports Book
North Texas Injury Report (via USA Today)
Ryan Boutwell—junior defensive tackle will be out indefinitely with a torn pectoral muscle.
Daniel Prior—senior tight end underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.
Freddie Warner—sophomore defensive back will be out indefinitely with a knee injury.
LSU Injury Report (via USA Today)
The Tigers have no significant injuries heading into this game.
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
If LSU somehow lost this game, it would drastically shake up the Top 25 standings, as the Tigers would plummet from their No. 3 spot in the AP poll and the top seed in the USA Today poll.
Even with a win against LSU, North Texas would not be included among the Top 25 teams in the country. Unless something miraculous happens, this game will have no effect on the rankings.
What They’re Saying
ESPN’s Gary Laney reports that LSU has cancelled practice due to Hurricane Isaac, but as of now, the game aganst North Texas will be played out as scheduled.
Even though the game is unlikely to be competitive, CBS Sports’ Larry Hartstein is excited about football’s return to Baton Rouge.
Night game in Death Valley? We're there. No matter the opponent, it's an event. It gets so loud the stadium once caused a tremor that registered on the Richter Scale. Night games enable the raucous fan base to spend all day in Baton Rouge getting, ahem, prepared.
North Texas received some encouraging words from suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton heading into the daunting matchup with LSU. Scott Hotard and Scott Rabalais of The Advocate quoted Payton as saying, "No one in Louisiana gives you a chance in that game. No one. And really, no one gave us a chance in that Super Bowl. You can go through the history of sport. That’s why you’ve got to play it."
North Texas Player to Watch: Zachary Orr, LB
North Texas’ offense will be dominated by LSU’s smothering defense, and Orr—the Mean Green’s leading tackler from last season—will see the field for an exhausting amount of time on Saturday.
He will have plenty of chances to make plays. Expect the junior to constantly be around the ball and to get a head start on surpassing his 74 total tackles from last year.
LSU Player to Watch: Zach Mettenberger, QB
This is a tune-up game for the Tigers, and it will be an excellent confidence booster for players who are first-time starters with the team. Mettenberger will be taking over the quarterback position and he will need plenty of confidence while going up against SEC defenses for an entire season.
Mettenberger has had a tumultuous college career thus far, but he is a supremely gifted passer and has a chance to revamp his image this season. A few touchdown passes in this game will get this process off to an excellent start.
Key Matchup: LSU vs. The Point Spread
LSU is significantly better than North Texas at every position. The Tigers will win, and they will win big.
But 43 points is a huge spread, and there is no guarantee that LSU will win by more than six touchdowns. The only suspense in this game will come from the Tigers’ ability to cover the points.
Key Storyline: How Much Did LSU Dominate?
LSU will win by a wide margin, leaving fans and commentators to try and pick apart the areas in which the Tigers could have been more dominant. If the team rushes for six touchdowns, but only passes for three, the door will be open for unfair criticism of Mettenberger.
On the other side of the ball, the defense may be criticized if it allows more than one touchdown. But in the end, this is a lopsided matchup and neither team will be able to take much away from the outcome.
Prediction: LSU 59, North Texas 10
This will be a blowout from start to finish. LSU will win big and cover the spread, leaving everybody pleased with the Tigers’ performance.