Fans who appreciate defensive football will love watching LSU take on TCU at the famed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, Aug. 31, to kick off the new NCAA football season.
LSU is a perennial powerhouse in the SEC, led by exuberant head coach Les Miles. The Tigers are coming off of a 10-3 season last year, which was somewhat of a disappointment considering the high expectations facing the program year in and year out.
Featuring one of the nation's most stringent defenses, LSU was shocked by Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Tigers in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to end the year.
TCU moved to the Big 12 last year after dominating the competition in the MWC for seven years. Going 7-6 wasn't a bad start, but Gary Patterson has higher expectations for his program in 2013 and beyond. He's returning many of his starters on the defensive side of the ball, and the best defense in the Big 12 last year will only get better this year as the players continue to build rapport with one another.
Here's what you need to know about this upcoming game.
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
When: Saturday, Aug. 31, at 9 p.m. ET
Betting Lines (via Bovada)
Spread: LSU -4 1/2
Jeremy Hill, RB, Probable (Suspension)
Corey Thompson, S, Questionable (Shoulder)
Josh Williford, G, Out indefinitely (Concussion)
Brandon Carter, WR, Probable (Hand)
LSU Player to Watch: Zach Mettenberger, Quarterback
LSU will only go as far as Mettenberger takes it this year. He struggled with accuracy last season, completing just 58.8 percent of his passes, and averaged less than one touchdown per game, which had a lot to do with LSU's mediocre offensive output.
With new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron running the show this year, however, there is an expectation that Mettenberger will flourish this season. If he does, LSU will be difficult to beat given the team's always-impressive defense.
For his part, Mettenberger believes he's ready to bounce back with a strong showing in 2013. He recently told reporters, "I learned a lot of tough lessons last year, but also a lot of good ones," as noted by the SEC Network:
"I learned a lot of tough lessons last year, but also a lot of good ones." --Zach Mettenberger http://t.co/0RW833emF1— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) August 19, 2013
The senior quarterback will face a stiff test immediately to start the season. TCU's defense features a strong defensive front capable of getting after the quarterback and a ball-hawking secondary led by cornerback Jason Verrett, who is being considered by many as a potential first-round pick in next year's NFL draft.
TCU Player to Watch: Casey Pachall, Quarterback
2013 should be a year of redemption for Pachall and the Horned Frogs.
For Pachall, this is his chance to put his off-the-field struggles behind him. He was arrested last season under suspicion of DUI and was suspended by the program, during which time he entered a rehab program, as detailed by Dan Wolken of USA Today:
Now he's back, and all the reports coming out of Texas Christian indicate the young man is doing well—both on and off the field. He's been named to the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Watch List, as noted by TCU's Mark Cohen:
TCU QB Casey Pachall named to watch list for Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, recognizing the nation's top offensive player with Texas ties.— Mark Cohen (@TCUSID) August 21, 2013
An electric player who is capable of lighting up opposing secondaries for big yardage through the air, Pachall will look to revitalize an offense that floundered last year while he was away.
I expect LSU to surprise a lot of people this year with an improved offensive attack under Cameron.
Which team will win?
TCU's defense will not be easily overwhelmed, but Mettenberger has been listening all summer long to critics bash him for his poor play a year ago and will be fired up to play at his best.
LSU's defense will be too much for Pachall, and the Horned Frogs will lose a tough game at home to start the 2013 season.
Final Score: LSU wins 24-13
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