Steve: LSU should beat A&M in a close game
Sixth-ranked LSU takes on 20th ranked Texas A&M today in a pivotal SEC Western Division matchup. The Tigers lead the all-time series 27-20-3, and won the most recent meeting in the 2011 Cotton Bowl.
The LSU offense ranks in the middle of the SEC pack in terms of scoring, averaging 32 points per game. Still, Zach Mettenberger would like to be more consistent at QB; he's completing just 60% of his passes for 1,322 yards, 6 TDs and 4 interceptions. He spreads the ball around, with Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry both logging 22 catches for a combined 604 yards and 3 scores. Mett could find things easier this week, as the Aggies have a subpar secondary. Meanwhile the Tiger's ground game accounts for 207 yards per game and features a stocked and talented stable of backs. In all, six guys have rushed for at least 100 yards this season.
The Tigers' defense is as formidable as ever, with foes averaging just 14 points and 220 yards per game. LSU ranks just below Alabama in the conference in both run defense and pass defense, and also rank second in sacks. Linebacker Kevin Minter leads the team in tackles with 63, while defensive end Sam Montgomery leads the hit parade on opposing quarterbacks, tallying 4 sacks.
Texas A&M is the top offensive team in the SEC, averaging 47 points per game and 544 total yards per contest. Both figures are far and away the highest in the conference, and the Aggies present a balanced attack that typically generates 236 yards on the ground and 308 through the air. Quarterback Johnny Manziel isn't playing like your typical freshman, as he leads the SEC in rushing while ranking third in passing. Receiver Mike Evans has been Manziel's go to guy more often than not, and currently sits third in the league with 36 receptions, 549 yards and two TDs.
As for the Aggie's defense, it allows an average of 22 point per game to rank sixth in the conference. Their efforts against the run have been much better than its showing against the pass. Led by defensive end Damontre Moore's 8.5 sacks, A&M has taken down the opposing quarterback 19 times. However, the unit has come up with only seven turnovers to date.
Something has to give as the SEC's best offense goes up against one of its top defenses. Can LSU contain Johnny Football? Manziel has been magical over the last several weeks, but he's about to be bottled up by the LSU defensive front.
I just see the power of the Tigers overcoming the flash of the Aggies. The home field advantage can't be minimized, but I expect LSU to pick up another tough win.
PREDITCTION: LSU 27, Texas A&M 23