College Football Game of the Week: No. 6 LSU vs. No. 9 Texas
College football has not disappointed with its impressive display off marquee out-of-conference matchups in the early weeks. That will continue in week two, as Ed Orgeron’s No. 6 LSU Tigers will travel to Austin to battle the No. 9 Texas Longhorns on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The game can be viewed on ABC.
This has been one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the young college football season, with it being the first top-10 matchup of the season between two teams with playoff and national championship aspirations.
Texas is coming off a comfortable 45-14 week one victory over Louisiana Tech. It was one of 10 opening week victories for the Big 12, the only power five conference to have all its teams win their inaugural matchups. Junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw four touchdown passes, two of which went to sophomore wide receiver Brennan Eagles. Coach Tom Herman and the Longhorns will be looking to take down opposition from the pelican state in back-to-back weeks.
LSU had arguably the more impressive week one victory, defeating a Georgia Southern team coming off a 10-win season 55-3. The Tigers scored 42 of their points in the first half and senior QB Joe Burrow threw five touchdown passes on his way to SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Despite LSU’s success, it was an uncharacteristically rough week for the SEC, which saw three double-digit favorites all fall to non-conference foes. The Tigers will be looking to pick up a signature road win and remind college football fans why the SEC is still to be a feared adversary.
There is certainly no shortage of motivation for either team. Not only are both sides looking for a huge resume boosting win, but both sides are looking to return the program to the spotlight of the early 2000s.
Texas just wants to be “back” – back on the map of elite programs, that is. The Longhorns fall from grace since appearing in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game has been long and painful. However, after the program’s first 10-win season since the 2009-2010 season, which included a 28-21 Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia, Texas fans believe this season may finally be the team’s moment of redemption.
LSU is looking to get over a hump of its own. The Tigers have been very close to breaking back on the national scene, but in recent seasons have played second fiddle in the SEC to the likes of Alabama and Georgia. A win against Texas would not directly help LSU’s SEC championship campaign but could be both a large boost in morale for Orgeron’s group and a means to balance its resume if it slips up in a grueling gauntlet of SEC games later in the season.
This will be the first big test for a Tigers’ defense without two of its marquee players from a season ago. Both linebacker Devin White and cornerback Greedy Williams left for the NFL after being named all-SEC in 2018. Look for fellow 2018 all-SEC nominee safety Grant Delpit to help fill the void, coming off a game that included four tackles and a fumble recovery. Junior LB Jacob Phillips is another name to watch, after recording a team-high 10 tackles against Georgia Southern.
Texas will need to find a new go-to target for Ehlinger after receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey left for the NFL following last season. Senior Collin Johnson could be ready to step up. Johnson was Texas’s second leading receiver behind Humphrey last season, totaling 985 yards and seven touchdown receptions. It will also be interesting seeing how the aforementioned Eagles comes off his first career multi-touchdown game.
While the Tigers’ defense remains stout, the team’s success tends to hinge on the performance of Burrow. In losses last season, Burrow’s average QBR was 62.9, with the team averaging 16.7 points per game in regulation. Meanwhile, in wins, Burrow’s average QBR was 74.7 with the Tigers averaging 33 points per regulation game.
Burrow and a revamped LSU offense will be a tall task for a Texas team which ranked 41st in total defense in 2018. Reigning Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Caden Sterns will need to continue to build off his impressive first season in the burnt orange for the Longhorns to stay in the game.
While Texas is well on its way to returning amongst the blue bloods of college football, they are not quite ready to topple a Tigers side which has been knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff for quite some time now.
Prediction: LSU 24, Texas 17
Andre Magaro is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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