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The LSU defense has been the sole-reason the Tigers are still in the Top-10
Matchup: vs. No. 3 South Carolina, 8 p.m. EST (ESPN)
How They Got Here: Riding a defense ranked No. 3 overall, the LSU Tigers got off to a 5-0 start.
The defense made a living making it miserable for their opponents. The Tigers only allowed opponents 221 total yards per game and 12.8 points per game.
However, the offense failed to pull their own weight—the Tigers ranked No. 76 in total offense, averaging 394 yards per game.
Junior quarterback Zack Mettenberger had been anemic, with only six touchdowns to three interceptions in the five contests. He’s been sacked a total of 15 times.
While the defense ranked No. 10 in turnovers with 14, the offense was No. 75 in turnovers lost with 11—including a staggering eight fumbles lost.
The Tigers didn’t face any stiff competition in their first five weeks, yet their sluggish play led to them losing points in both polls over the weeks. They even received a couple of wake-up calls with sloppy performances against Auburn and FCS opponent Towson.
With a trip to the Swamp to play then-No. 10 Florida, the Tigers hoped they could get a spark from the offense.
However, LSU only managed two field goals and 200 yards of total offense as they fell to the resurgent Gators 14-6.
The defense held up their end of the bargain, forcing two turnovers and allowing 237 yards. However, Mettenberger only threw for 158 yards and an interception—one of three turnovers for the Tigers—while only going 1-13 on third downs.
The loss dropped the Tigers to No. 9 in the polls.
Why They’ll Plummet: After facing opponents with a combined record of 7-19 in their first five games, the Tigers will face four straight ranked opponents with a combined record of 20-1.
Talk about turning the tables.
Next up, the Tigers play host to No. 3 South Carolina.
The Gamecocks,—who are coming off a 35-7 thrashing of then-No. 5 Georgia—will bring in a stout, No. 10 overall defense of their own. It will mark the first meeting between the two teams since 2008.
After losing a hard-fought battle to the Gators, the Tigers will have to quickly turn things around if they want to keep their title hopes alive. They will most likely have to play their best football for three-straight weeks.
One slip-up and it’s better luck next year.
Prediction: 21-10 South Carolina