I get it. They're good.
They have speed. Their coach is a I-AA superstar. They've only lost three games in the past two years. They beat Michigan, and they're returning key starters. They have plenty of heart.
But LSU isn't opening the season with Ohio St. That might be a tough game.
LSU opens with Appalachian State instead, and they're going to beat the hell out of them.
This game is the popular upset pick for opening weekend—and I just don't buy it.
Appalachian State isn't going to lose because of the stadium. They aren't going to lose because of the heat and humidity in Death Valley.
They're going to lose because LSU is that much better than Appalachian State.
LSU has a truckload more talent than App State has. They will be able to line up and run right at the Mountaineers for four yards when they need it. The defensive front will stop the run no matter how App State spreads the field, forcing Armanti Edwards to throw to get first downs.
If Edwards sits in the pocket for more than a second or two, he'll have two guys on him. If he rolls out the wrong way, he'll have two more guys on him.
When everyone talked about “all the speed” in the SEC after four BCS beatdowns in past two years, they shouldn't have been impressed with speed at the skill positions. Every team has that. Odds are Edwards will be one of the fastest players on the field.
What separates the top teams from the rest are the big men that can move. (Yes, teams outside the SEC have this too.) It's tough to prepare an offensive tackle for a defensive end that will blow by him like Tyson Jackson will.
The Tiger defensive tackles will be just as tough, and I would list them here if I could pronounce their names or didn't have to look them up.
It doesn't matter who they are: The point is that LSU has had its pick of freak monsters in recruiting the past few years. Appalachian State has not.
While they may not admit it, at least nine of 10 App State players would have chosen LSU over ASU coming out of high school if given the chance. Or any SEC school, for that matter. Or any ACC, Big East, Pac-10...you get the point.
To be more blunt, App State still lost to two games to FCS teams last year. If LSU were opening the season with Mississippi State after MSU lost to Wofford and Georgia Southern the year before, I don't think very many people would be calling the upset.
Further, LSU will be focused on the game. I hate to take away from the Michigan win by saying App State sneaked up on them, but the word is out about the boys from Boone and their offense.
Les Miles and his staff will spend a few more hours in the film room than Carr and company did last year. No other time has a FBS vs. FCS matchup been hyped by the media like this one has—not just “this much,” but at all.
LSU has plenty of pride riding on the game as well. They're defending national champions, and they don't want to hear anything about how the Mountaineers' talent level is anywhere close to their own.
LSU's athletes don't want to be compared to FCS players. They may keep to the diplomatic comments around the media, but the LSU players know they can't allow App State to even make a game out of it.
It was a loss for Oklahoma when Boise State proved to be a respectable opponent, not to mention take an early lead. The announcers for that game talked about two evenly matched teams.
LSU needs a Georgia-Hawaii style game for their reputation. Because what happened on the field didn't need any descriptions, the media talked about Hawaii's heart after the Sugar Bowl.
LSU will consider it a loss if Appalachian State is within 14 at halftime. LSU will consider it a loss if App State mounts a comeback in the fourth quarter. And it will definitely be considered a loss if media members write in the paper the next day, “What an exciting game to watch.”
LSU wants to do much more than simply win the game, and they shouldn't have any problems doing it.
LSU could have some quarterback “issues” turn into “challenges” in the first half, but it will not keep them from winning the game going away. Expect LSU to take control early, and plan to switch to the Mississippi State-Louisiana Tech game by halftime
At the end of the game, while waiting for Missouri-Illinois to come on, don't expect the announcers to talk about what an exciting game it was. Expect them to talk about how much heart Appalachian State had.