South Carolina preparing for fourth trip to LSU as SEC member
BATON ROUGE, La. Ė Since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1992, South Carolina has played at LSU three times. The Gamecocks won 18-17 in 1994, and lost 38-14 in 2002 and 28-16 in 2007, when the Tigers won the national championship.
NEXT GAME WHO: No. 3 South Carolina (6-0, 4-0 SEC) vs. No. 9 LSU (5-1, 1-1) WHEN: Today, 8 p.m. WHERE: Baton Rouge, La. TV: ESPN LINE: LSU by 3
Hereís a look at what could make the difference when No. 3 South Carolina plays at No. 9 LSU tonight:
LSUís first-year starting quarterback has now played in two SEC games with the Tigers. In a win at Auburn, he completed 15 of 27 passes for 169 yards. In a loss at Florida, he was 11 of 25 for 158 yards and an interception. Those are not exactly eye-popping numbers. USCís formidable defensive line has accounted for 21 of USCís nation-leading 25 sacks. If it can affect Mettenberger and force him to make bad decisions, he could have a long day.
USCíS KICKOFF COVERAGE
The Gamecocks have allowed returns of 48, 52 and 53 yards this season, but an opponent has yet to return a kickoff for a touchdown against them. If LSU can pop a long return, or even get a touchdown on a kickoff, that could make up for the Tigersí offense struggling against USCís defense, and would definitely get the raucous crowd of 92,400 into the game.
LSUíS RUNNING BACKS
LSU runs the ball 40.2 times per game and throws it 24.3 times per game ó almost the exact same ratio as USC. While USC has the combination of tailback Marcus Lattimore and quarterback Connor Shaw, LSU relies on tailbacks Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford and Spencer Ware. They have 58, 42 and 40 carries and are averaging 6.6, 5.7 and 4.6 yards per rush.
Expect a defensive battle. Considering its struggles, LSUís offense is unlikely to rack up a lot of yards on USCís defense. The Tigersí defense has also been strong against the run ó USCís best offensive asset. The matchups themselves matter far more than history, but there is just something about LSU in Saturday night home games. And the Tigers will be hungry for a win after losing last week at Florida.
LSU 17, South Carolina 14
Tonight at 8, the third-ranked Gamecocks return to Tiger Stadium to face the ninth-ranked Tigers (5-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference). LSU is coming off a 14-6 loss at Florida. USC (6-0, 4-0) is riding the high of last weekís 35-7 home win over Georgia, which marked USCís first win in five tries in a game that matched two top 10 teams.
USC, which travels to Florida next week, hasnít been ranked this high since 1984, when it moved to No. 2, then promptly lost at Navy to spoil a 9-0 start. That was the only time in USCís history that it has started 7-0 Ė a feat it will try to accomplish tonight.