If you enjoy a good defensive battle, then Saturday's game will likely be the one for you. Both the Tigers and Gamecocks have top ranked defensive units that do not let the opposing team score points. Look for a lot of hard hits and a low scoring game. The Gamecocks have not fared to well in Baton Rouge but this year seems to be a little different from the norm as the Gamecocks have a well-balanced squad.
LSU will look to avoid losing two games in a row for the first time since 2008 and are looking to win their 22nd consecutive home game. The real "Death Valley" is one of the loudest places to play in the country and after the loss last week to Florida, I have a feeling fans will be even more pumped. The Gamecocks will have to come in ready to play from the first whistle but that can be said for every game in the SEC. Really what USC needs is a repeat performance from last week.
A Look at the LSU Offense: Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has taken some heat after last weeks performance where he completed 11 of 25 passes for 158 yards and one interception. Most feel he has struggled this season but he does has the talent to turn it around. Fort the season, Mettenberger has passed for 1174 yards and six touchdowns, with three interceptions. For most teams, that is good enough but not at LSU. The Tigers have always been a quality running team and this year they are led by a duo of backs. Kenny Hilliard is the Tigers leading rusher with 382 yards and six touchdowns. The other back is Alfred Blue, who has 270 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the season. Plus don't forget the fullback. As for wide receivers, Odell Beckham is the Tigers top guy and he has 20 receptions for 364 yards with two touchdowns. LSU's offense on the season is averaging 33.5 points per game and 394 yards per game. The Gamecocks defense will need to bring the pressure, tackle well in space and not give up the long ball.
The LSU Defense: LSU's defense is led by their defensive line. South Carolina native Sam Montgomery is one of the best defensive ends in the country and can take over a game by himself. Montgomery on the season has 18 tackles, 6.5 for loss and two sacks. On the other side of Montgomery is another All American candidate in Barkevious Mingo, who is just as talented as any defensive player in the country. Mingo has 16 tackles, 2 for loss, and one sack on the season. LSU's top linebacker is Kevin Minter, who is 5th in the SEC with 54 tackles. Overall, LSU's defense is second in the SEC in total defense only giving up 221 yards per game and fourth in scoring defense, only giving up 12.8 points per game. The key for the USC offense will again be the play of the offensive line. They must provide time for the play to develop.
What might happen on Saturday: LSU's defense is fast, and their fans are crazy. That is all you really need to know. If the Gamecocks can not get off to a good start, the game could be over early as LSU is tough at home night games. USC's Shaw and the offensive line better be on the same page, as the LSU fans can play havic with a opposing team's offense. The fans will have plenty of time to drink bourbon and eat corn-dogs with a 7 o'clock kick.
On the other side, if Mettenberger doesn't show much early, the LSU fan's might be on his case all game as well. Look for Jadeveon Clowney to have a less than stellar game as I am sure the "Mad Hatter" watched game film of his performance against UGA last week. This should leave plenty of open space for Devin Taylor to have a career game. Also look for Shaq Wilson to once again be the anchor on the Gamecocks defense from his linebacker spot.
As for the Gamecocks offense, if USC can control the line and give Lattimore space to run this should lead to good things. USC only threw the ball 10 times last week, and I don't think they will throw more then 16 times this week. I think Spurrier will game plan to let Lattimore run, and Shaw only throw when he has too.
Special teams will be the key this week as LSU has one of the best punters in the country. If Brad Wing continuously pins USC deep in LSU territory, the offense might never have a chance to get going even with Ace Sanders back there.
Look for USC to find a way to win this game. Whether it is a key turnover or a great run by Lattimore, the Gamecocks will find a way to win.
Prediction: USC 20 LSU 14
LSU General Info:
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Students: 29,549 (24,641 undergrad)
Stadium: Tiger Stadium aka "Death Valley," capacity-92,542
Head Coach: Leslie Edwin "Les" Miles, 80-18 overall record in 8 seasons
LSU's 2012 Record: 5-1 overall, 1-1 SEC
Record vs USC: LSU leads the series 16-2-1, last meeting in 2008 with LSU winning 24-17
Follow Billy on Twitter at @GeneralLOHD as he travels to LSU for the game.
Get more great South Carolina sports analysis over at Leftover Hot Dog.