Published October 10, 2012 - 9:42am
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The Matchup: #3 South Carolina (6-0, 4-0) at #9 LSU (5-1, 1-1)
When: Saturday, October 13th
Where: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Game Time: 8:00 PM ET
Recent History: LSU has dominated this series at 16-2-1 with four straight wins by 17 points per game. The Tigers are also 10-1 when hosting the Gamecocks, with the only loss coming back in 1994. Bottom line: South Carolina hasn’t fared well in this series in recent history.
South Carolina Will Win If: They can take advantage of a weaker LSU offensive line and get to the quarterback. We saw Florida get to the quarterback often last week, and Carolina has much better pass rushers than Florida has on the roster. Jadeveon Clowney, Devin Taylor and the underrated Chaz Sutton will need to create havoc in the Tigers’ backfield. LSU’s offensive line has been suspect since tackle Chris Faulk went down earlier in the season. Combined with a weaker offensive line and Zach Mettenberger holding onto the football too long, Carolina should be able to alter the football game. The Gamecocks lead the league in sacks with 25, and the closest team is Ole Miss with 17.
LSU Will Win If: They stop Connor Shaw and get Zach Mettenberger comfortable in the passing game. No one has been able to stop Shaw yet. He is the lifeblood of the entire offense. He’s the silent assassin. I’m a believer now. The passing numbers or rushing numbers don’t stand out. They never really did. However, Shaw is the son of a coach, and he’s a gamer. If LSU can shut down Shaw’s zone read game with Marcus Lattimore, it will force Carolina to do work through the air. I’m not saying they can’t, but the whole offensive attack revolves around Shaw and the zone read. Also, Mettenberger must get better in the passing game. He’s not a mobile quarterback but a pocket passer, and he has to find ways to find open receivers and gain some confidence down the field. He hasn’t looked comfortable in five games.
Storyline(s): Carolina is coming off arguably the biggest win in program history for a regular season game over #5 ranked Georgia. Emotions are running high still, and the Gamecocks will need to bottle that up and save a little for LSU. If South Carolina wins this football game, how can you not rank them #2 in the country? And on the flip side, LSU must win this game – and win out – to still be in the national championship picture. Back-to-back losses against the SEC East could be devastating for the West powerhouse.
Player(s) To Watch: For LSU, make sure you watch linebacker Kevin Minter. Minter was sensational in the loss to Florida last week. He had a career-high 20 tackles, including 17 solo tackles and recorded two sacks and a forced fumble. He was all over the field and stood out in a lineup of future NFL players. He’ll be key in making sure Connor Shaw doesn’t have his way with the Tigers’ defense.
For South Carolina, you have to watch Jadeveon Clowney. His ability to rush the passer proves he is a freak of nature, with his speed, size and agility for such a massive human being. He’s second in the SEC in tackles for loss (11.5) and second in sacks (6.5). I have a feeling he’ll be getting after Mettenberger quite often on passing plays that take too long to develop.