LSU rushing offense vs. Oregon State rushing defense
It is no secret that the only weakness LSU has on the offensive side of the ball is a big question mark at quarterback. Marcus Randall has tasted experience, but is still a bit green. However, the Tigers rushing attack is in no way is question as LSU ground game came together at midseason last year, bolstered by the emergence of then-freshman Justin Vincent and Alley Broussard. Teams in the Pac-10 throw the ball and are used to defending the pass, this is the SEC where teams run the ball. Watch as a LSU's mammoth offensive line clears a path through the OSU front seven and Vincent and Broussard run wild.
LSU passing offense vs. Oregon State passing defense
Much like the LSU Tigers, the Oregon State secondary returns three of four starters, with the exception of its strong safety – same as LSU. Cornerbacks Aric Williams and Brandon Browner and free safety Mitch Meeuwsen return to a secondary that was second in the league in pass defense a year ago. Granted, the 204 yards per game were surrendered in the Pac-10. With Marcus Randall making his first start in 14 games and almost two years, we will tip our cap to the Beavers
Advantage: Oregon State
Oregon State rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense
You will see a common trend here, if it has anything to do with defense, we are pretty much going to give the Tigers the nod. Bigger and faster than a season ago, the Tiger stoppers should again be the class of college football in 2004. For OSU, gone is Stephen Jackson and his 1,545 yards from a year ago. Dwight Wright steps in at tailback, however, the only steps he will be taking is backwards. The Tigers led the nation in rushing defense a year ago, expect much of the same in 2004.
Oregon State passing offense vs. LSU passing defense
We hope you see a pattern forming in terms of the defense. Like we have said countless times, throughout the spring, summer and in our football preview, teams will be hard pressed to pass against LSU's star-studded secondary. Three of four starters are back, including all-everything corners Corey Webster and Travis Daniels. Oregon State quarterback Derek Anderson is talented but has a knack of throwing the ball to the wrong team. Combined with LSU's blanket coverages and vicious pass rush, Anderson is going to wish coach Mike Riley had agreed to wearing OSU's black uniforms – because the back of his shiny white jersey is going to be awfully dirty.
LSU special teams vs. Oregon State special teams:
Special teams is an area where the Tigers possess one of its biggest question marks – punting. Donnie Jones is gone to the NFL after three years as the Tigers punter. Patrick Fisher is having no trouble with distance, but his hang time is in question. Saban continues the rotation at place kicker between Chris Jackson and Ryan Gaudet and Skyler Green led the nation in return yardage last season…. Ahem, don't think there are any problems there. Oregon State lost their kicker and punter from last season and will be breaking in new personnel at both positions Saturday.
With all of Saban's talk of climbing the mountain, being at base camp and not discussing the Tigers 2003 national title, some would expect LSU to come into this game a little cocky, a little arrogant, walking with a certain swagger. Well, yes – all of the above. However, Saban doesn't make the money he does to allow his team to come into a game in which they are the defending national champions and not perform up to their ability. We have already seen USC survive a scare of epic proportions fending off an upset-minded Virginia Tech team. Oregon State will look to play spoiler on Saturday. However, with all the pageantry and emotions surrounding LSU's first game as defending champions, ESPN Gameday on campus, don't expect the Tigers to be flat. But one thing you can bet on, although they say it is no big deal, be on the lookout for some wide eyes wearing orange and white jerseys at kickoff.
Will Marcus Randall be ready? Can the defense live up to expectations of being better than a year ago? Will the Tigers come out flat and struggle? All relevant questions and ones to be taken into consideration with a dangerous team like Oregon State coming into Tiger Stadium. As for Randall, if the Tigers struggle in the passing game, LSU, in our opinion, can simply run the football at will on a smaller Beaver defense and allow its' defense to keep the Beavs at bay all the while pulling out a win. The experts are calling this one an upset special, especially after the Trojans laid a stinker last Saturday. But this game is on the home turf and while OSU is capable of giving the Tigers more than they are accustomed (a la UL-Monroe) in a season opener, we are calling it for LSU.
LSU 31, Oregon State 17
- Matt Deville