It has been a long offseason for the LSU Tigers but it is time to do what they do best once again—win football games. The Tigers will start the march back to Atlanta this weekend against the undermanned North Texas Mean Green.
It will be a long day for the Mean Green, who are trying to replace one of their few NFL caliber players in running back Lance Dunbar. Dunbar rushed for 4,224 rushing yards and 49 touchdowns in his record breaking career. As a result, North Texas will be forced to use a running back by-committee approach, which will feature Brandin Byrd, Antoinne Jimmerson, Jeremy Brown and Zac Whitfield.
Don't look for LSU to have any problem with the North Texas offense.
LSU, on the other hand, should experience a major upgrade on the offensive side of the ball. Tiger's quarterback, Zach Mettenberger, is finally slotted to take over as the LSU signal caller. The Tigers were a quarterback away from winning the national championship last season and with a large contingent of returning players plus Mettenberger, Saturday is a first step toward reaching the goal they barely missed last season.
In 2010, Mettenberger took the junior college world by storm with 2,678 yards, 32 touchdowns and only four interceptions while leading Butler (Kan.) Community College to the championship game. A game in which they were defeated.
In 2011, he once again watched as his team fell just short of a national championship. Mettenberger is determined to not allow that to happen again. This time he wants his team to finish the drill.
At the end of the 2011 season, despite being defeated by Alabama, most thought LSU was the team to beat. However, once again, a rough offseason has hurt their chances. Not only did LSU dismiss former Heisman Trophy candidate Tyrann Mathieu, but now projected starting linebacker Tahj Jones might have eligibility issues.
The good news for LSU is that they have as much talent as anyone in college football and have a favorable schedule to help work newcomers into the mix. The goal of this game will be to get out without any injuries.
Prediction: This game will be over as soon as the first touchdown is scored. The biggest question is how soon Les Miles will begin punting on third down to help North Texas out.
Predicted Score: LSU 52 North Texas 6
Stat Line: Mettenberger with three touchdown passes.