5 things to look for in the LSU-South Carolina game
Jeff Palermo Reporting
According to oddsmakers in Las Vegas, LSU is a slight favorite to beat South Carolina. But many Tiger fans believe LSU is the underdog against the Gamecocks, who are in position to play in the SEC Championship game for the second time in three years.
The reason why LSU fans don't have much hope is that the Tigers offense is struggling, while South Carolina has one of the best defenses in the country. Can LSU muster more than the six points they scored against Florida? I think they can, but here are five things to look for in this top ten match-up.
1. LSU's offensive line
This is not the game to have issues on the offensive line. South Carolina leads the SEC in sacks with 25 in six games, while the Tigers could be down two more starters on the o-line. Starting right guard Josh Williford could miss the game with a concussion, while tackle Alex Hurst is dealing with an injury and personal issues. If Williford and Hurst do not play, the Tigers will start a freshman and a redshirt freshman at right tackle and right guard.
2. Time of Possession
LSU's defense wilted in the swamp last week as Florida had a 15-minute edge over the Tigers. LSU's offense has to figure out a way to move the chains, so the defense can have fresh legs in the fourth quarter. Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore and his six-foot, 218-pound frame can wear opposing defenses out. South Carolina comes into the game fourth in the SEC in average time of possession.
3. LSU's Red Zone Offense
Points will be at a premium on Saturday night and the Tigers have to score touchdowns when and if they get inside South Carolina's 20-yard line. The Tigers have had the ball 27 times inside the opponent's 20-yard line and they've scored just 14 touchdowns. South Carolina has one of the best red zone defenses, as they've held opposing teams to zero points on five different occasions once the opponent got inside the 20-yard line.
4. Can LSU get its running game on track?
The Tigers rushed for 42 yards against Florida, which is nearly hard to imagine considering the quality depth LSU has at running back. Obviously, the offensive line is struggling. But if Spencer Ware, Kenny Hilliard and Michael Ford can't get anything going, then try either Terrence Magee or Jeremy Hill. LSU's coaches need to be imaginative and bold in this game.
5. Can LSU get some momentum early?
Saturday is the first SEC game in Tiger Stadium since 2010 and it's a match-up of top ten teams. But you can barely feel the excitement level around Tiger Town. As I mentioned, many LSU fans are expecting a loss. But if the Tigers can do something positive, like score an early touchdown, then South Carolina will find out that the real Death Valley is not at Clemson, but in Baton Rouge.