South Carolina and LSU battled in Baton Rouge last year in nasty weather. The game wasn’t always pretty either. Last year the Tigers came out on top 28-16 in a hard-fought contest. This time the two teams do battle in Columbia.
South Carolina comes off a win against Kentucky last week, and LSU is still licking its wounds after a massacre in Gainesville against Florida this past Saturday night.
Tiger fans may feel good about the fact that LSU has only lost twice in the series between the two schools—and the only loss in Columbia for LSU was all the way back in 1930. But don’t worry, LSU fans, that occurred way back in a time when the U.S. economy was in turmoil and Alabama was good in football. Wait...
LSU will win if...
The defense returns to form.
Like it or not, LSU’s superman defense had its first taste of kryptonite last year in this game. The Gamecocks attacked the middle of the field with TE Jared Cook. Many teams since then have followed Steve Spurrier’s lead. While Cook’s status may be iffy for this game, the Visor usually takes great pleasure in being a thorn in LSU’s collective side.
LSU will have to take some chances and leave their inexperienced corners out on an island so pressure can be put on Garcia. Or Smelley. Or Garcia. Whoever the Tigers face at QB, if they can disrupt, that’ll be half the battle against a Gamecock offense that isn’t setting the world on fire.
The freshman QB comes up huge.
Here’s the thing: The Gamecocks probably have the best defense you never heard of because the perception is they’re coached by an offensive guru. But Carolina’s D is the real deal. If they stuff the run (and they probably will), then it will be up to Jarrett Lee to make plays.
While opposing teams have done a great job silencing Demetrius Byrd and Terrance Tolliver, the Tigers must go to the middle themselves and get the ball to Brandon “Jo Jo” LaFell and TE Richard Dickson. If Lee starts clicking, that would be a doomsday scenario for the Gamecocks, who might find points hard to come by even against a purple and gold defense that’s been playing subpar ball.
LSU will lose if...
The Tigers lose the line of scrimmage again.
The most shocking facet of last week’s loss to the Gators was how the Tigers’ lines were manhandled. Once thought to have the best lines in the conference, LSU will have to prove that last week was a fluke.
If they can’t, and the D-line allow time for Smelley to throw or Garcia to utilize his mobility, then the Bayou Bengals may suffer disappointment for two straight weeks. No one has given up more sacks in the SEC than South Carolina.
Both sides of the ball should come out with something to prove after last week, but if they don’t, there may be a run on bourbon in the Bayou state come this weekend.
Darth Visor gets his revenge.
If I told you to recall three plays from last year’s game, no doubt one of them would be the Colt David fake field goal in which Matt Flynn gave the old over the shoulder flip and David ran it in for six.
Les Miles gave Spurrier a taste of his own medicine. Don’t think for a second “the Visor” doesn’t want a shot at “the Hat” this year. Look for something special from the Ol' Ball Coach, and if it connects, it could be the difference in what should be a close game.
The X Factor
If you aren’t named Tyson Jackson, Harry Coleman, or Trindon Holliday, chances are you didn’t have a great game last week for the Tigers. If the latter can get loose on kickoffs or on the offense out in space, the Gamecocks are in trouble.
Little No. 8 can scoot. He did last year against the Cocks—and don’t think they don’t remember that. Miles will have to find a way for the little bottle rocket to get six to eight touches and hope the guy can be a game changer. While USC may kick away from Holliday on kickoffs, it’s up to the LSU special teams to find a way to get this guy the ball.
While this game will be played under the lights and act as a Plan B watching destination while the Texas-Mizzou game is at commercial, you’re gonna have to like defense to stay glued to the screen.
Both teams are going to hit hard. The Gamecocks defense wants to prove itself on national television against the defending national champs, who won the matchup last year.
A win for LSU will put the Tigers right where they thought they would be (with one loss) going into the Oct. 25 contest against Georgia.
I think both Lee and Garcia will struggle at the QB position for their respective teams, and it’s very likely that the game won’t be decided until the waning moments. LSU has scored at least 21 points in every game since the Florida game in 2006. I think the Tigers fall short of that mark again.
It won’t be pretty, but it will be compelling. The difference comes in the form of a much-needed Tiger defensive TD, and LSU escapes Columbia with a win.
LSU 20, South Carolina 17
To hear the South Cackalacky version, click here for the incomparable Tim Pollock.