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LSU vs. South Carolina: Complete Game Preview

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent INovember 4, 2016

LSU vs. South Carolina: Complete Game Preview

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    Les Miles and the LSU Tigers were handed their first loss of the season last week against a good Florida Gators team.

    Now, the Tigers will welcome another SEC opponent, and a good one at that.

    The No. 3-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks will visit Tiger Stadium on Saturday in a matchup of SEC elite programs.

    LSU still has BCS hopes, but those could take a huge hit with a loss against Steve Spurrier's South Carolina team. After a lackluster performance last week, the Tigers need to bounce back and show that they are a national title contender with a win this weekend.

    Let's go ahead and break down this matchup and provide a complete game preview for LSU vs. South Carolina.

    Bleacher Report Style!

Game-Day Information

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    Who: LSU vs. South Carolina

    When: Saturday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. (EDT)

    Where: Baton Rouge, La.

    Stadium: Tiger Stadium

    TV: ESPN

    Live Stream: WatchESPN

    Radio: Eagle 98.1 WDGL (LSU)

Depth Chart for LSU

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    Offense

    QB  8 Zach Mettenberger

           17 Steven Rivers

    RB   27 Kenny Hilliard

           42 Michael Ford

           11 Spencer Ware

    FB   44 J.C. Copeland

           43 Connor Neighbors

    X     86 Kadron Boone

           82 James Wright

    Z     3 Odell Beckham Jr.

           10 Russell Shepard

    3-Wide 80 Jarvis Landry

    LT   68 Alex Hurst

    RT   72 Vadal Alexander

    LG  70 La'el Collins

    RG  74 Trai Turner

    C    P.J. Lonergan

     

    Defense

    LE  49 Barkevious Mingo

    LT  77 Josh Downs

    RT  18 Bennie Logan

          90 Anthony Johnson

    RE  99 Sam Montgomery

    LB  52 Luke Muncie

    LB  46 Kevin Minter

    LB  57 Lamin Barrow

    CB  32 Jalen Collins -or- 28 Jalen Mills

    CB  24 Tharold Simon

    FS  1 Eric Reid

    SS  6 Craig Loston

What Happend to the Tigers Last Week

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    Nothing good.

    That's the short answer to what happened for the Tigers last week.

    Les Miles team traveled to Gainsville and were beat up by a good Florida team.

    The Tigers have been known for their dominant run game throughout this season, but the rushing attack was non-existent against Florida. LSU compiled a total of 42 rushing yards on 25 carries, which is an average of just 1.7 yards per carry. That is a pretty pathetic mark regardless of your opponent.

    On the defensive end, the secondary was brilliant, but the run defense was far from. The unit surrendered 176 yards on the ground, 146 of which came from Florida senior running back Mike Gillislee.

    LSU will need to improve in both of those aspects if it is going to beat a very good South Carolina team this weekend.

What Happend to South Carolina Last Week

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    While LSU struggled last weekend against a good SEC opponent, South Carolina did the exact opposite.

    The Gamecocks were dominant on both sides of the ball in a commanding 35-7 blowout victory over the No. 5-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.

    Junior running back Marcus Lattimore ran for 109 yards and a touchdown, quarterback Connor Shaw threw two touchdown passes, and a dominant defense/special teams performance helped propel the Gamecocks to the No. 3 ranking in the country.

    This is a team that is hitting on all cylinders right now and will be tough to beat, even if the game is being played at Tiger Stadium this Saturday.

What It Means to Both Teams

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    This is a huge game for both team, even they play in opposite divisions in the SEC.

    Why is it so huge?

    It has major BCS implications.

    Both of these teams have their eyes set on making BCS bowls this year, and really, despite LSU's one loss, both of these teams have BCS National Championship aspirations as well.

    A win here for LSU and it is right back in that national title conversation.

    On the other hand, a win here for South Carolina, and the Gamecocks could propel to No. 2 or even the top ranking in the country when the new polls come out.

    For BCS purposes, this is a monster game for both of these top-notch SEC powerhouses programs.

Key Player for LSU

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    An obvious choice here, but in all reality, LSU winning this game truly does come down to the play of Zach Mettenberger.

    The Tigers' first-year starting quarterback hasn't been bad this year, he just hasn't been great.

    Against Florida this past weekend, Mettenberger had some nice passes, but he never seemed to get in much of a rhythm with his receivers following the first offensive drive of the game.

    If LSU is going to beat a good South Carolina team this weekend, they need Mettenberger to elevate his game. He needs to smart and make good decisions with the football.

    If LSU can establish the passing game, that will open up things for the run game and allow this offense to thrive.

    The lights are all on you, Zach Mettenbeger.

    It's time to show the college football world what you can do in a big-time SEC home game.

Key Player for South Carolina

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    Marcus Lattimore is the best running back in college football, and he is the engine that makes this South Carolina offense go.

    The talented junior back has already totaled nearly 600 yards on the ground and nine rushing touchdowns through six games this season. In South Carolina's four SEC games, he has totaled 429 rushing yards and seven of his nine touchdowns, which means that this guy plays even better against far superior compeition.

    That right there is scary for the Tigers.

    If LSU can contain Lattimore, it should win this football game, it's as simple as that.

LSU Will Win If....

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    LSU will win this football game if it can stop South Carolina's rushing attack and establish its own on the offensive side.

    Both of these quarterbacks are solid, but they aren't capable of taking over a football game.

    These are two of the best running teams in the country, and whoever can establish the run and take over the battle in the trenches is going to come away victorious.

    Both of these teams have been strong on defense with elite pass-rushers across the board.

    Whose offensive line can hold up better and contain the pass rush will be another big story to watch in this game.

    LSU has some injuries on the line, but if it can contain All-American candidate Jadeveon Clowney, then that will give this offense plenty of time to operate and find the end zone.

South Carolina Will Win If.....

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    South Carolina will win if it does everything it has been doing up to this point this season.

    - Establish the run early and often

    - Make smart decisions from the quarterback position

    - Rely on a dominant pass rush off the end

    Those are the three keys to South Carolina's game plan for this game, and really, any game for that matter.

    If South Carolina can execute all three of those, it should win this football game.

    If not, LSU has the advantage, especially with home-field advantage on its side.

    This has all the makings of a classic SEC smash-mouth college football game!

Prediction

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    This is going to be a very close, instant classic type SEC college football game.

    LSU will get the ground game going against South Carolina, but how first-year starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger handles playing against this defense will be the real question here for LSU.

    If Mettenberger can manage the game, make smart decisions and get Odell Beckham Jr., the ball in space, I like LSU's chances in this one.

    South Carolina will rely on a heavy dose of Marcus Lattimore, and LSU will not stop him, but it sure can contain him.

    If LSU can do so and make smart decisions on the offensive end of the football, I think the home-field advantage will be just enough to propel the Tigers to a close victory in this one.

    Make it: LSU 24, South Carolina 20

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