LSU Football: Are the Tigers Actually on Upset Alert vs. Washington?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 6, 2012

LSU RB Alfred Blue
LSU RB Alfred BlueStacy Revere/Getty Images

With all the hoopla surrounding Auburn vs. Mississippi State, Florida vs. Texas A&M and Georgia vs. Missouri, one out-of-conference game is flying under the radar.

Washington at LSU in Death Valley in Baton Rouge on Saturday night.

The Washington Huskies, while a quality Pac-12 program, aren't going to pique the interest of many people in SEC circles. 

They should.

This is a dangerous Washington team headed to Baton Rouge on Saturday night, and its strengths play into the weaknesses of LSU.

Particularly, the uncertainty in the Tiger secondary.

The suspension/dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu means that LSU was forced to replace a first-round draft pick, a fourth-round draft pick and a Heisman finalist from last season's secondary before the season opener vs. North Texas last week.

That was North Texas. This is Washington.

Washington can sling it all over the field. Quarterback Keith Price was a relative unknown until the 2011 Alamo Bowl, when he torched Baylor's defense to the tune of 438 passing yards and four touchdowns in a 67-56 loss to the Bears.

Granted, that was Baylor's defense. LSU's defense is a notch or 10 better than that, but it showed what Price is capable of, and that should concern LSU fans.

The best way for LSU to negate Price's impact is to grind it out with running backs Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue and keep the opposing offense off the field, much like LSU did last week vs. North Texas.

LSU knows it and Washington knows it (and my colleague Michael Felder and I broke it down in our game preview yesterday).

If Washington can stop the run, the game will fall on the shoulders of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Everybody (including me) thinks that Mettenberger can be the difference for LSU, but we have to see it before believing it.

He may have to make all of us believers this weekend. LSU shouldn't take the Huskies lightly.