Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s showdown between LSU and Sam Houston State in Baton Rouge.

When: Saturday

Where: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: SEC Network

Current Line: LSU -(32.5)

Game Buzz: LSU comes into their home opener fresh off of a 28-24 comeback win against the Badgers of Wisconsin, taking on FCS opponent Sam Houston State. The Bearkats come in at 1-1 after taking down Alabama State last week. The Tigers are naturally heavy favorites, although the Bearkats are averaging over 450 yards of total offense through two games. LSU will be faced with slowing down Sam Houston’s no-huddle offensive attack.

SATURDAY DOWN SOUTH PREVIEWS

LSU TIGERS

Players to watch:

  • QB Anthony Jennings
  • RB Leonard Fournette
  • RB Kenny Hilliard
  • WR Malachi Dupre
  • C Ethan Pocic
  • DT Quentin Thomas
  • CB Jalen Mills
  • CB Rashard Robinson

Keys for LSU

  • Figuring out the quarterback position. Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris were slated to split time in the Bengal Tigers’ first game, but Jennings ended up taking all but three snaps in the win. Jennings might give LSU its best shot at winning now, but he’ll have to be better for the team to contend in the loaded SEC West. Harris, meanwhile, should see more time against the Bearkats, and he’ll have to look a little more composed in whatever action he sees.
  • Offensive line play. With senior center Elliott Porter suspended for the second game in a row, sophomore Ethan Pocic gets the nod at center again. Against Wisconsin, the line had trouble recognizing the exotic stunts the Badgers’ d-line employed, and the game could have turned out differently had Wisconsin not lost two key defensive tackles during the game. The line will need to solidify to create holes for the backs and give the QBs time to throw.
  • Secondary stepping up. Sam Houston employs a spread no-huddle offense, and one of its greatest strengths is its receiving corps. The Bearkats have several FBS transfers lining up at receiver. Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins will have their hands full and could definitely use some help from Rashard Robinson, who may or may not suit up for this one.

Tigers’ glaring weakness to watch: Defensive line depth. DT Quentin Thomas played with a torn biceps in the season opener, but even still, three Tigers’ backups didn’t play: Maquedius Bain, who was suspended, and Greg Gilmore and Frank Herron, both of whom Les Miles indicated were not comfortable with the playbook. 

Most interesting part of this game: The revamped Tiger Stadium. LSU dropped $80 million on a stadium expansion, upping the capacity to more than 102,000 seats. The south end of the stadium is now enclosed, which will up the noise quotient in an already deafening stadium. Will LSU record its first six-figure sellout?

Team buzz: Les Miles is trying to establish the Tigers’ identity as a ground-and-pound offensive team. His offense will have to set the tone for this game early, starting with the offensive line. If they can get the run game going, it could open up some easy passes for the quarterbacks to hit deep. That could go a long way in not only getting the running backs going, but the young receivers as well.

SAM HOUSTON STATE BEARKATS

Players to watch:

  • QB Jared Johnson
  • WR LaDarius Brown
  • RB Keshawn Hill
  • DE Mouf Abedo
  • LB Tristan Eche

Keys for Sam Houston

  • Play fast and loose. The Bearkats are outmanned in this game. I know it, you know, and they probably know it too. That doesn’t mean that Sam Houston can’t come out, play their game and try to create headaches for LSU’s defense. Coach K.C. Keeler runs a fast-paced offense – his team has run 190 plays through two games – and their catch-and-run philosophy is something that could test the Tigers’ defense from line to secondary. If they can get some points on the board quickly, they might be able to hang around longer than expected.
  • Try to stop the run. It’s no secret that LSU is not a passing offense. Sam Houston would love to be able to force Jennings and Harris to air it out, but to do that they’ll have to slow down Kenny Hilliard, Leonard Fournette and Terrence Magee. With an undersized linebacking corps, that will be a tall task.

Bearkats’ glaring weakness to watch: The defense. Sam Houston has gotten lit up in their first two games, to the tune of 402 and 624 yards, respectively. They’ll have to find a way to stop LSU from getting into a rhythm offensively if they want to stay in the game.

Most interesting part of this game: The outside match ups. The Bearkats have plenty of talent out wide. LaDarius Brown is a TCU transfer, while Derrick Edwards transferred in from Texas Tech. Talent is never a question at DB for the Tigers, but they can’t let their guard down against this opponent. Coach Keeler will do his best to spread out LSU’s defense and have his offense pick it apart.

Team buzz: Sam Houston comes in with nothing to lose. Despite dropping their first game of the season to the No. 2 FCS team, the Bearkats are still ranked No. 13 in the FCS and are considered a good bet to make the playoffs. If they can give LSU a scare, it adds to their reputation as a team to be reckoned with. Even if they don’t, Keeler’s team gains valuable experience playing in front of the largest and loudest crowd (not to mention the most talented team) they’ll face all season.