By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
SOUTHERN MISS WILL WIN IF …
It wins the turnover battle: It’s been a wash for LSU this season in what Ed Orgeron calls the most important statistic in football: turnover battle. LSU has given the ball away seven times, and returned the favor to its foes as many times, too. Southern Miss, meanwhile, has been awful in protecting the ball, and just as bad in generating turnovers. They rank 122nd in the country in turnover margin, with just seven takeaways to 15 turnovers – an average margin of -1.33 per game. On the road against an SEC foe, that’s not going to work.
It wins third downs: The Golden Eagles have been superb on third downs this year – on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they’ve been outstanding, ranking fourth in the country with a 19.44% opponent third down conversion rate. On offense, they’ve been quite good, too, converting 46.88% of third downs. LSU’s stopping foes at a 29.11% clip, good for 16th in the country, while converting only 42.62% of third downs on offense. That’s an area Southern Miss can take advantage of by stopping the run early and getting LSU’s offense off the field, while keeping the Tigers on it.
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LSU WILL WIN IF …
It goes deep: The one component missing from LSU’s offense in its 42-7 demolition of Missouri was the deep ball. Danny Etling misfired on several long tosses, hitting just one of 8 throws of 20+ yards – even that one was tipped – a trend we’ve seen emerge all season. If Etling adds that dimension to the Tiger attack, coupled with the running of Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams and the newfound efficiency on short-to-intermediate throws Etling is so good at, it will make Steve Ensminger’s attack incredibly difficult to defend.
It keeps pressuring: Like Missouri, Southern Miss comes into Tiger Stadium with a high-octane passing offense. The Golden Eagles rank 16″ nationally in passing offense. with 318.7 yards per game. But, they have been turnover prone, with eight interceptions – second-most of any top-25 passing offense. LSU needs to get in the face of quarterback Nick Mu liens and make him throw under pressure. Arden Key’s rushing off the edge can force a bad throw or two, and you can bet Tre’Davious White and the LSU secondary will be glad to grab any misfires.