In one of the more underrated matchups of the Week 8 college football schedule, the LSU Tigers will travel to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies. What used to be a great rivalry between these two schools will now be a statement game among two SEC teams.
Both enter the game with solid defenses and great running games, but football games usually come down to which quarterback can make the most plays and fewest mistakes. LSU is struggling to find any consistency at the quarterback position, while Texas A&M has found possibly the next best thing.
It is a no-brainer that Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel will outshine LSU's Zach Mettenberger this weekend.
Mettenberger Has Yet to Show Much
We keep waiting for Mettenberger to come out of his shell, but he seems to be the same guy Tiger fans have had to put up with all season. With all of the hype he generated during the offseason, maybe it is time everybody stops expecting so much from the first-year starter.
He is completing less than 60 percent of his passes on the year, has only thrown for more than 200 yards in two of the first seven games and the coaching staff seems to be losing more and more faith in the starting quarterback.
LSU was expected the throw the ball more this season (via Les East of The Advocate), but that hasn’t been the case. Out of 32 red-zone trips all season, Mettenberger has thrown the ball only 26 times inside the 20-yard line, and his 24 pass attempts a game is seventh among SEC quarterbacks.
Who will win the SEC matchup?
The offensive line had one of its better performances last week against South Carolina, but the first-year signal-caller still completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw a terrible interception that led to a Gamecocks touchdown.
He consistently telegraphs his throws and is painfully inaccurate when even throwing to wide open receivers. And with the recent emergence of running back Jeremy Hill, LSU is likely going to stick to the pound and ground game. The 53 carries against South Carolina last week was the most since a 2010 meeting against Texas A&M in a bowl game.
Until Mettenberger actually plays with some type of consistency and looks like a true quarterback, it is going to be hard to expect anything different than what we have seen so far.
Manziel Is a Star in the Making
Maybe you are still drooling over the performances of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Or maybe you are still crying that your team isn't ranked as high as you would like in the latest BCS rankings.
Whatever your mind is currently set on, you need to know that freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is a stud football player. Everybody laughed at head coach Kevin Sumlin when Manziel was named the starter, but nobody is laughing now.
His 67 percent completion rate is good for second in the SEC, while his 1,680 passing yards are good for third in the conference. And while his passing numbers are off the charts, he also leads the SEC with 676 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns and is averaging more than seven yards a carry.
Did I mention that he is a freshman quarterback?
Johnny Manziel has 43.8 more rushing yards/game and 27.3 more passing ypg than Tim Tebow's Heisman season.— Drew Roberts (@DrewSDS) October 17, 2012
Maybe it is beginner's luck, but in his first game of his career against Florida, he completed more than 70 percent of his passes and rushed for 60 yards. And there have already been two games this season where he has put together more than 500 total yards of offense, which has gotten the attention of the LSU defense.
According to the AP, via CBS Sports, head coach Les Miles has made the Texas A&M quarterback the focus for this game.
I hope we can contain (Manziel). Miles said. The good thing is that our defense will be one of the fastest he will have seen. Hopefully we will use a style of pressure that's most effective. At times it's going to be coverage and keeping him in the pocket, and other times, hopefully we can get to him.
LSU does have a speedy defensive line that should be able to contain Manziel without having to stack the box much, but he has looked like the real deal against some pretty good squads already. Sure, the Tigers are a different breed of defense than teams such as Ole Miss and Louisiana Tech, but there aren't many other quarterbacks putting up these types of numbers this season.
Regardless of how Manziel is able to handle the pressure of the Tigers' front seven, he will certainly have a better performance than Mettenberger.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.