Previewing LSU vs. West Virginia

Scott Pauley@scott.pauleyAnalyst ISeptember 21, 2011

Previewing LSU vs. West Virginia

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    The West Virginia University Mountaineers have jumped to No. 16 in both major polls and are now ready to take on another ranked team—the No. 2 LSU Tigers.

    The Mountaineers welcome the Tigers and ESPN’s College Gameday to Morgantown on Saturday for the 8 p.m. kickoff.

    This will be WVU’s first game against a ranked team this season and could perhaps be the only one until the final game of the regular season against South Florida.

    As with every game, there are several things that will likely determine the outcome. Here are five keys to the game each team will consider going into Saturday’s game.

LSU Must Silence the Mountaineer Faithful

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    With ESPN’s College Gameday show making its way to Morgantown for the first time ever, the Mountaineer fans will be even more fired up than normal. 

    Milan Puskar Stadium has always been one of the hardest places for the visiting team to play. The student section is always alive, as well as the other 50,000 fans in attendance.

    However, having Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews in attendance will only strengthen the sound of the clanging car keys. 

    The Tigers must ignore the roar of the crowd if they expect to be able to run a fast-paced offense in an attempt to divert the Mountaineers defense.

LSU Must Defend the Mountaineer Air Raid

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    Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney seem to be Geno Smith’s favorite targets. However, during last week’s game at Maryland it became apparent that Smith can find any target when needed. 

    The Tigers must keep an eye on other hands guys like Ryan Nehlen and Tyler Urban, among others. 

WVU Must Re-Route the Tigers' Ground Game

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    The tandem efforts of Michael Ford and Spencer Ware from the backfield will prove to be a sort of saving grace for LSU. It is important that the Mountaineers stop these two from making the short yardage plays. 

    Though Tigers' quarterback, Jarrett Lee has shown his ability to step up and lead the team, it's doubtful Les Miles has enough confidence in Lee to successfully execute a winning performance in the air.

The West Virginia Defense Must Play to Its Potential

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    Defensive coordinator, Jeff Casteel has had a top rated defense over the last few years. The same will be true come the end of this season. 

    However, the boys need to be more aggressive up front and a little more attentive in the middle of the field if they hope to be 4-0 on Sunday morning.

LSU Must Stop Geno Smith

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    As in the previous three games, Geno Smith must be halted if LSU doesn't want to lose this mountaintop battle. 

    Smith has racked up 1008 yards already and has seven touchdowns. 

    He has only thrown one interception, which was the fault of the receiver. Smith—last week’s Big East player of the week—will again be the star of the show. 

    LSU must close the curtain on that show before the end of the second act.