What will the Mad Hatter have in store for the SEC this season? (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Mississippi State vs. LSU - Saturday, November 10, 2012 - Baton Rouge, LA
Quick Facts: Louisiana State University
- Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Enrollment: 28,771
- Nickname: Fighting Tigers
- Stadium: Tiger Stadium
- Capacity: 92,542
- Head Coach: Les Miles
- Alma Mater: Michigan, 1976
- Defensive Coordinator: John Chavis
- Alma Mater: Tennessee, 1979
- Offensive Coordinator: Greg Studrawa
- Alma Mater: Bowling Green, 1987
- 2011 Overall Record: 13 - 1
- 2011 SEC Record/Finish: 8 - 0
- 2011 Bowl: National Championship
- Bowl Result: L - Alabama 22, LSU 0
- Full 2011 Statistics
- 2012 Returning Starters:
- 2012 Returning Lettermen: 14 (6 offensive, 6 offensive, 2 special teams)
- 2012 Fall Roster
2011 Opponent Season in Review
The 2011 football season for an LSU fan was the equivalent of being a kid and getting handed a huge ice cream cone with extra sprinkles, only to have a tiny, dictator-ish man slap that ice cream cone out of your hand at the last second, ruining everything you had built up to until that point. LSU put together an outstanding year in 2011, navigating an always difficult SEC schedule perfectly, including a tough, ugly 6-3 win in Tuscaloosa over Alabama. After wrapping up the regular season, LSU moved on to face Georgia in the SEC Championship game, and dispatched the Bulldogs easily, winning 42-10.
All that was left between them and the ultimate prize was a second matchup with arch rival Alabama, who was primed and ready for revenge, following the close loss at home to the Tigers earlier in November. What resulted was a 21-0 loss to Bama and a performance by LSU that looked liked something out of a body-snatchers movie. LSU looked very much asleep at the wheel, including their coach, who chose not to play Jarrett Lee at all, despite Lee's solid play throughout the season, especially when projected starter Jordan Jefferson was out with legal issues in the first half of the season. Overall it was a weird performance even for Miles, who you never really know what to expect from. Nevertheless, the Tigers found themselves on the wrong side of a shutout, and could only watch as Alabama claimed their 14th
thousandth National Championship.
Who to Watch For (Offense)
Zach Mettenberger (QB - 6'5", 230 lbs / Watkinsville, Georgia)
All eyes in the boot state and beyond will be on Mr. Mettenberger this fall, seeing if he has the ability to be the difference in LSU having a 9 win season or another shot at a National Title. I personally think this team is good enough around him to survive without stellar quarterback play (see 2011 results), but a big year out of the big talent from Georgia would put this team over the edge of elite status. Behind Mettenberger is Phillip Rivers' younger brother Stephen Rivers, who has a ways to go to push Zach for starting time as a Redshirt Freshman. Behind those two is newcomer Rob Bolden, new to town and the program and fresh off of a transfer from Penn State. Bolden most likely won't have enough time to learn the offense well enough to see the field substantially in 2012, but he could still factor in on some sets to give a different look from what Mettenberger can provide. With Mettenberger's big arm, I would expect LSU to throw the ball a bit more this season, and in turn LSU fans will be expecting big numbers from the hyped up Junior.
Who to Watch For (Defense)
You were, what, expecting to see the Honey Badger here? You already know what Tyrann Mathieu is capable of, but what you might not be aware of is how scarily good this defensive end tandem is. Montgomery and Mingo (not an Australian Law Firm) are physical freaks, and both capable of disrupting plays on every snap that they are on the field for. Both are All-Americans, and both will be high draft picks in the 2013 NFL Draft if they elect to go pro. Last year the two terrors combined for 95 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, and 17 sacks, which is enough to make any opposing QB nervous. I expect big things out of these two this fall on a defense that top to bottom may be the best in the SEC.
2012 Game Prediction
LSU 31 - Mississippi State 21
Much like the Alabama game, I think this one will be closer than it has been in year's past as State's roster is more talented and experienced, but still, it's AT Tiger Stadium. Any team, whether ranked #1 or #113, is lucky to come away from there with a win, and that will be no different for Mississippi State in late November. State could be highly fatigued by this time in the schedule, having to play Alabama and Texas A&M in consecutive weeks leading up to this matchup. I think Dan Mullen has State prepared, but in the 2nd half talent and the home crowd take over, and LSU cruises to a 10 point victory made that close by a late 4th quarter TD, when most LSU fans are already in the parking lot transitioning to the after party.