By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU WILL WIN IF …
Perimeter Protection: Texas A&M (36) is the only team in the Southeastern Conference with more sacks this season than LSU (33). Myles Garrett is playing for the Cleveland Browns these days, but the Aggies have kept the heat on opposing quarterbacks thanks to a collection of talented rushers. Landis Durham is third in the SEC with 8.5 sacks while three other Aggies rank in the top 20. They’ll be the stiffest test this side of Alabama for an offensive line that’s still starting two true freshmen who’re growing into the job.
Kick Carefully: Texas A&M ranks middle of the SEC pack in terms of offense and defense, but the Aggies are downright lethal in the game’s third phase. The reason for that of course is all-purpose weapon Christian Kirk. Kirk has already ran back a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns this season, and his 21.9 yard average on punt returns is staggering. Zach Von Rosenberg was a difference maker punting into a wind storm against Tennessee, but this week may prove an even greater challenge for him, ace gunner Russell Gage and the rest of LSU’s coverage units.
TEXAS A&M WILL WIN IF …
Flip the Script: Two years ago Texas A&M came to Baton Rouge looking to hand Les Miles one final loss before LSU pushed the embattled coach out the door for good. Instead LSU rallied to victory behind Miles and carried him off the field on their shoulders to find out his execution had been stayed. Now it’s Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin who heads into the season finale on the hot seat knowing another lopsided loss to the Tigers could mean curtains for his tenure in College Station — with Jimbo Fisher rumors in the air, no less!
Stop the Run: LSU has dominated the Texas A&M series in no small part because the Aggies are seemingly never able to slow down the ground game. Derrius Guice ripped them for a school-record 285 yards when the teams met last Thanksgiving. The Aggies have allowed 232, 228 and 228 yards rushing in SEC losses to Alabama, Mississippi State and Auburn, a trend LSU will look to continue. The Aggies have the pass rush to give LSU problems, but only if they can find a way to hold up against a red-hot running game, first.