West Virginia-LSU: Gameday Predictions
With No. 21 West Virginia and No. 12 LSU playing tonight, I figured I would do some game day predictions for the Battle in the Bayou.
You'll find that these aren't predictions that you'll see all the time, they aren't your usual "who will be the player of the game" type of predictions, and I hope you enjoy them.
1. How Long Will West Virginia's Longest Kick Return Be?
With Tavon Austin and Noel Devine back returning kicks, West Virginia has one of the most lethal combinations of return men that you're going to find in the nation.
MY PREDICTION: 31 Yards
2. Who Will Be the Game's Leading Tackler? (Either Team)
This game will feature two of the better defenses in the nation and some of the best defensive players that you're going to find throughout America this season.
While LSU has guys like Kelvin Sheppard and Drake Nevis who will surely get a decent amount of tackles tonight, I'm going to go with a Mountaineer on this one.
MY PREDICTION: WVU linebacker Anthony Leonard
3. How Many Sacks Will West Virginia Have?
In last Saturday's game against Maryland, the Mountaineers picked up eight sacks, the most since they played Villanova in 2008. This outburst came after finishing the first two games of the year with zero.
It's unlikely that they will repeat last week's eight sack performance against a very solid LSU offensive line, but don't expect for them to get zero sacks, either.
MY PREDICTION: Two Sacks
4. How Many Carries Will Ryan Clarke Have?
As West Virginia has continued to make the transition from the shotgun, spread offense that they ran under Rich Rodriguez to the more pro-style offense that they are starting to run now, the role of Ryan Clarke has continued to grow.
He gets a lot of carries for the Mountaineers near the goal line and even gets a few carries from running back in jumbo sets.
MY PREDICTION: Five Carries
5. How Many Rushing Yards Will LSU Give Up?
While West Virginia has started passing the ball more than they usually do, they've had received a very solid performance from the running game over the course of the first three games of the season. As a team they are averaging 179.3 yards per game.
Against LSU, look for the Mountaineers to finish a little below average for the game.
MY PREDICTION: 154
6. How Many Yards Will West Virginia's Longest Play Be?
In their first three games, West Virginia really hasn't had a ton of big plays. With the exception of Jock Sanders' 66-yard punt return last week, the longest play the Mountaineers have had from scrimmage was a 50-yard run by Noel Devine in the first quarter of the Maryland game.
MY PREDICTION: 42 Yards
7. How Many Total Yards Will LSU Quarterback Jordan Jefferson Have?
Jordan Jefferson has only averaged 114.7 passing yards per game this season. But with the uncertain status of cornerback Brandon Hogan and the tendency of the West Virginia secondary two give up big plays (touchdowns of 96, 80 and 60 yards in the last two weeks), Jefferson could be in for a good performance on Saturday night.
MY PREDICTION: 148 Total Yards
8. How Many First Quarter Points Will West Virginia Score?
With the exception of last week's game against Maryland, West Virginia has been notorious for slow starts this season. They only led Coastal Carolina 10-0 at halftime in the season opener and had to come back from a 21-6 deficit in the fourth quarter against Marshall.
I think they will once again have a little trouble getting things started against LSU, especially when you take into account that packed house that will be at Tiger Stadium
MY PREDICTION: 3 Points
9. Who Will Score LSU's First Touchdown
LSU has a lot of threats on its team that can score when they touch the ball. But perhaps nobody on their offense is as versatile a threat as wide receiver Russell Shepard.
He was one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country out of high school, but moved to receiver when he got to Baton Rouge because of the depth the Tigers have at the QB position.
This year he's caught one touchdown and has two rushing scores.
MY PREDICTION: Jordan Jefferson 20-yard pass to Russell Shepard
10. How Many Catches Will Be Made By Players Not Named Tavon or Jock For WVU?
When highly touted wide receivers Logan Heastie and Deon Long left the WVU program before playing a down for the Old Gold and Blue, many people considered the position to be one of the big weaknesses for the Mountaineer offense.
But three games into the 2010 season and it appears that the depth that the Mountaineers have at receiver is maybe the biggest strength. Running back Noel Devine has become more of an option in the passing game and the emergence of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey have been huge.
When you throw in the fact that one of West Virginia's leading receivers from last season, Brad Starks, hasn't even registered his first grab of the season yet, this is definitely of the best receiving units in the Big East Conference.
MY PREDICTION: Seven Catches
11. What Will The Official Attendance Be at Tiger Stadium?
Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge has a reputation of being one of the loudest, most intimidating and toughest place to come in and get a win. And you can expect for the stadium that holds over 92,000 to be jam-packed with LSU fans (and some WVU fans I suppose) on Saturday night.
MY PREDICTION: 92,328
12. What Will The Final Score Be?
LSU is a 9 1/2 point favorite in tonight's matchup, and with good reason. They're the home team, in one of the toughest stadiums for a team to come in and win a game in—especially at night.
With that said, I definitely don't think they cover. But I do think they still come away with the win.
MY PREDICTION: 20-17, LSU