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College Football Preview: South Carolina Visits LSU, More Big 12 Fun, Stanford at Notre Dame

SEC Roshambo Continues. South Carolina travels to LSU. This is a must-win for the Tigers, who lost to Florida last week. This is a “would like to win” for South Carolina, who face a real must win at Florida next week. The Gamecocks will come close to a live Tiger entering the field. Under Armor outfitted them with the appropriate attire.

LSU has looked terrible the past three weekends. The culprit is the offensive line. The Tigers lost Chris Faulk at the season’s start. Since, they have been riddled by injuries and forced to shuffle players to different spots. Their run production reflects this. LSU depends on running to move the ball. They have not been able to do it. They posted just 4.14 yards per carry against Auburn (96th in FBS run defense). They were not much better (4.51) against FCS Towson. Florida, a good run defense, held them to a measly 1.82 yards per carry. Les Miles’ team can limit mistakes. They are as good as it gets on defense and special teams. They will struggle beating good teams if they can’t make forward progress.

The question is can South Carolina score enough to win? The HBC’s offense looked great against Georgia. LSU is much better than Georgia (3rd vs. 47th respectively in yards allowed per play). Marcus Lattimore may be the key. He has been solid but not all-world since returning on a repaired knee. Does he have a Trent Richardson in the title game performance in the tank. Mike Gillislee had one last week, though much of that was failure to adjust to Florida’s blocking scheme. Another factor is the Gamecocks’ road woes. On two away trips, SC limped to a 17-13 win against Vanderbilt and needed a second-half comeback to hold off Kentucky.

This game is in Texas. It’s a Shootout. Oklahoma lost to Kansas State. Texas lost to West Virginia. This will be the first Red River meeting since 1999 where neither team is ranked in the top ten. There’s much football to be played, but betting tomorrow’s loser will have a hard time winning the Big 12 should be safe.

Oklahoma enters on a high. They beat Texas Tech by three touchdowns in Lubbock last weekend. Landry Jones threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns without – light the burners on his Heisman campaign – throwing an interception. The Sooners suppressed some apprehension with a win, though this team remains an enigma. Oklahoma has played three FBS games, looking unsatisfactory in two of them. Against FBS they rank 60th in yards per play on offense. Are we seeing Oklahoma fit the mold, or are we seeing the mold we want Oklahoma to fit?

Texas enters on a low. Their bubble burst last weekend with the home loss to West Virginia, even if the game was quite even. Sophomore quarterback David Ash, third nationally in passer rating, has not been a liability. The problem has been a porous defense. While playing both Oklahoma State (No. 1 in yards per play) and West Virginia (No. 3 in yards per play) the Longhorns statistical problems, ranking 106th in yards allowed per play is not a success recipe. Texas and Oklahoma are four points apart in SRS. FEI projects a 28-27 game. This should be closer than last season’s curb-stomping.

Big 12 Trap Games. Kansas State and West Virginia are undefeated, nominal Big 12 favorites and due to meet the following weekend. Both face potential hurdles before getting there. The Wildcats travel to Ames, which is never a facile road win. Ask last year’s Oklahoma State team. This also looks like a more rugged than anticipated Iowa State team. The Cyclones are 4-1 and provide the first Top 20 defense Kansas State’s new-found explosive offense has faced.

West Virginia is in a similar situation. Though the schedule inflates the numbers, Texas Tech has improved from last year, particularly up front on defense. The Mountaineers are coming off two drainings shootouts with Baylor and Texas and are flying across the country for a road game for the second time in two weeks. The line is screwy. Lubbock is a place where weird things happen. While West Virginia’s offensive tallies have impressed, the victory margins have not. Their three AQ conference wins have come by just 20 points combined.

Catholics vs. Techies. We’ve seen what we’re getting from Stanford. This is where we find out what we’re getting from Notre Dame. (How good were the Michigan and Michigan State wins?)The Cardinal defense should slow Notre Dame. The Irish are a power-running team. Stanford, holding opponents to 2.66 yards per carry with one of college football’s best front sevens, should force them to throw to win. That’s a concern. The counter to that is Notre Dame is at home and their defense presents a similar problem for Stanford. Josh Nunes ranks 82nd nationally in passer rating and he’ll be missing his best wide receiver. This game should be brutish, low-scoring and, because it’s happening outside SEC bounds, a lightning rod for complaints.

[Photos via TheBigLead, Presswire]

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