The LSU Tigers appeared to be in serious trouble with TCU on the schedule as the opening game. With a young team returning that lost a ton of NFL talent, a potential upset against the Horned Frogs was brewing in Cowboys Stadium.
Now, not so much.
According to College Football Talk, TCU defensive end Devonte Fields has been suspended for the first two games for violation of university and team policy.
TCU announces DE Devonte Fields has been suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season for violating university & team policy.5/15/2013, 4:00:58 PM
All the air has just been sucked out of the building.
Fields was a freshman last season who finished third in the Big 12 with 10 sacks, while adding 53 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and an interception for good measure. His combination of size (6'4", 240 pounds), speed and a relentless motor makes him one of the best young defenders in the league.
In fact, with him already proving himself in one short season, Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer took to Twitter to share his feelings about the young defensive end.
Adam Kramer @KegsnEggs
Devonte Fields is the best defensive end in the country not named Jadeveon Clowney. Not having him against LSU is huge.5/15/2013, 4:04:55 PM
Needless to say, that is terrific company to be in, as Clowney is just in another weight class compared to the rest of college football.
So what does this do for the TCU-LSU matchup?
The Horned Frogs are still a wonderful football team that finished 16th in total defense last season, and they return the second-most starters in the Big 12 with 15. Despite losing quarterback Casey Pachall for much of the season, they still managed to win seven games and keep things close against Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
Head coach Gary Patterson always has his team well-prepared and his defense is always a feisty bunch that never backs down from the opponent. There is also the fact that LSU lost six starters on defense and wasn't exactly terrific offensively. If there was ever a year the Tigers could take a step backwards or at least struggle out of the gate, it would be this season due to lack of experience.
But it is no secret that Fields was a tremendous part of this football team. No TCU player finished last season with at least five sacks besides him, and he had the most tackles on the team as far as defensive linemen are concerned. Stopping the run and generating pressure on the quarterback are two keys to knocking off LSU, and things just got a lot tougher for TCU to do just that.
It is true that one player doesn't make a team or win a game, but Fields is an elite defensive lineman who makes everybody's job that much easier. When you are the underdog, you need all the help you can get, and this underdog just lost the best player on the entire team.
You can still expect TCU to put up a fight, especially if Pachall is able to get his head on straight and return to form. But the chances of shocking the world and pulling off the upset just suffered a major blow.