BATON ROUGE, La. — For the second straight week, writing about LSU’s opponent becomes more difficult than necessary in that both teams are called the Tigers.
Seriously, whose idea was this? I blame the Longhorn Network for making people want to leave the Big 12.
With Auburn, at least we can pull out the antiquated moniker “Plainsmen.” And of course LSU is also known as the Bayou Bengals. As for Mizzou, there is no sub-nickname. Hell, people there can’t even figure if the state’s name is pronounced “Mizz-ur-EE” or “Mizz-ur-UH.”
Can’t trust ’em.
But at this point we also can’t make them go away and play Kansas like they’re supposed to.
Fortunately it becomes very easy to tell the Tigers apart on the field. Missouri slings it around to the tune of 391 passing yards per game. LSU does not. So it will be an interesting contrast of styles to witness in Ed Orgeron’s first game as LSU’s interim coach.
LSU: Danny Etling was the definition of ordinary for the majority of the Auburn game, but the moxie he showed on the drive for the touchdown-that-never-was impressed. We will see if he is able to take advantage of the reshuffled playbook Orgeron is promising.
Missouri: Lock has thrown for 1,508 yards in four games, which may well trump Etling’s yardage to finish the season — or at least it would have if Cam Cameron were still calling plays. However, he has yet to be challenged by a real defense. This game is a test of where Lock stands in the SEC quarterback pecking order.
LSU: Leonard Fournette remains a game-time decision. But there is a reason we say Derrius Guice would start in nearly every other SEC backfield. He’s good enough to be the workhorse if needed.
Missouri: The Tigers rushed for 95 total yards against their lone SEC opponent, Georgia. Even Nicholls State (125 yards) was more productive running the ball against the Bulldogs.
LSU: Orgeron indicated this week that we might expect to see three or four of them out on the field at a time. Wouldn’t that be something?
Missouri: An explosive offense means explosive receivers. It starts with J’Mon Moore, who has 26 catches for 434 yards and 6 touchdowns. Dave Aranda would be wise to stick Tre’Davious White to this guy like glue, but there are four other receivers averaging at least 2 catches per game to keep an eye on, too.
LSU: This banged-up group is still without starting right tackle Toby Weathersby, who also missed last week’s game. Fortunately there is no Carl Lawson in the Mizzou front seven, though Charles Harris comes close. Left tackle K.J. Malone may still be having nightmares about the Auburn end.
Missouri: Thanks largely to their quick-release passing, the Tigers have allowed just 1 sack this season. But they haven’t faced a defensive line anything like LSU’s.
LSU: It looks like Davon Godchaux will be playing after an indefinite suspension was dropped when criminal charges following his Monday morning arrest stemming from an incident with his girlfriend were also dropped. With Missouri’s offense running tempo, a full stable of linemen will be needed.
Missouri: Defensive end Charles Harris, who has 4 tackles for loss and 3 sacks, is the one guy LSU must account for at all times.
LSU: Arden Key and Kendell Beckwith are probably the best outside-inside combination in the country, and the rest of this group isn’t so shabby either.
Missouri: Michael Scherer appears to be the kind of linebacker who can end up anywhere from 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage to 10 yards upfield to make a tackle. Another name to remember as a potential difference-maker.
LSU: Sean White, who is not the SEC’s greatest passer, was allowed to make too many big plays last week when he threw towards defensive backs not named Tre’Davious White. But if they don’t make mistakes, Mizzou won’t have its typical passing output against these guys.
Missouri: This defense seems to have one intriguing playmaker at every level. For the secondary it is cornerback Aarion Penton, who has broken up 6 passes and picked off 2. If Etling makes him a regular target, Orgeron won’t hesitate to go back to Brandon Harris.
LSU: Coach O has Bradley Dale Peveto focusing on special teams and special teams only. Josh Growden has been good at home and bad on the road, so expect the punter to bounce back again at Tiger Stadium.
Missouri: Mizzou is the only SEC team that’s missed more extra points (3) than LSU. So if the defense holds Missouri up in the red zone like it did with Auburn last week, it’s got much better odds of keeping the scoreboard blank.
LSU: Orgeron is in his first game as LSU’s head coach, so we can only base what we know off going 6-2 as USC’s interim head coach (good) and 10-25 as Mississippi’s (bad.)
Missouri: Barry Odom is in his fourth game as a head coach after four years as a defensive coordinator. He’s bludgeoned bad teams and lost to possibly good ones.
Edge: Dude, who knows?
As someone new on the beat who has covered only two games at Tiger Stadium prior to this season (both against McNeese, one of which lasted about 7 minutes) I have not yet been exposed to a game where the aura of Death Valley takes over. I have a feeling that’s going to change for “Bebe’s” debut.
But LSU can’t assume emotion alone will be enough to win. This Missouri team can pose some matchup issues.
Hickey’s Pick: LSU 27, Missouri 17