One of the biggest non-conference games of the season takes place this Saturday night in Austin. The number nine Texas Longhorns will host the number six LSU Tigers. Here is the Texas Week Two Preview, a highly anticipated game against the LSU Tigers.
Texas Week Two Preview: LSU Tigers
Both Texas and LSU are strong teams that have not yet been dominant in the College Football Playoff era. Neither team had a 10-win season or a New Years Six bowl appearance from 2014-2017 (the first four years of the CFP era). Both teams started to break through last year, and both had notable New Years Six bowl victories (Texas over Georgia and LSU over UCF). A win on Saturday could provide a signature win over a Top Ten non-conference opponent.
Texas Week One
Texas opened last week against Louisiana Tech, beating them decisively 45-14. While Texas did give up 340 passing yards, most of those yards were in the second half with their second and third teams on the field. Louisiana Tech also remained scoreless until the fourth quarter. By comparison, LSU allowed Louisiana Tech 330 passing yards and gave up 21 points when they played last year.
Concerns at Running Back Depth
The Longhorns took another hit at running back depth last week. Freshman starter Jordan Whittington suffered a re-injury of a sports hernia (torn abductor muscle) in the opening game. He will be out four to six weeks after having it surgically repaired again. The running back room is already thin with Daniel Young, Kirk Johnson, and Jarrett Smith out with injuries. Prior to the opening game, head coach Tom Herman had moved true freshman third-string quarterback Roschon Johnson to the backup running back position; Johnson is now second behind starter Keaontay Ingram.
LSU Week One
In LSU’s season opener last week against Georgia Southern, they debuted their “new offense” under passing coordinator Joe Brady. Brady brings his experience with the New Orleans Saints to try to turn LSU into not just a dominant defensive team. Quarterback Joe Burrow had an impressive game with a school record five touchdowns in the first half. He had 23 completions for 27 attempts, meaning he had more touchdowns than incompletions. LSU also had 14 different players with receptions against Georgia Southern. Brady touts their new offense as no-huddle tempo offense which could bring challenges to the Texas defense.
A Battle of Two Defenses
Despite losing eight starters on defense going into this seasons, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando is known for running an aggressive program. Caden Sterns and Brandon Jones are one of the best safety tandems in the nation. LSU’s defense held Georgia Southern to only three passing yards last week. Grant Delpit in their secondary is one of the best defenders in the nation. I don’t expect a lot of production on offense on either side Saturday. Both schools have strong defensive coordinators who recruit well and develop their players well.
The Quarterback Match-up
The game Saturday could easily become a battle of the quarterbacks. As a sophomore last year, Sam Ehlinger had a completion percentage of 65%, 7.7 yards per attempt, 25 touchdowns, and five interceptions. As a junior last year, Joe Burrow had a completion percentage of 58%, 7.6 yards per attempt, 16 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Both schools have promoted a more explosive and more physical offense this year.
Aside from potentially producing a signature win to the team this season, the game also carries recruiting implications. LSU linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson was a signing day decision between Texas and LSU. 2020 five-star running back and Texas commit Bijan Robinson was a silent commit to LSU in the months preceding his announcement to Texas. The outcome of the game could help sway current recruits in one direction or another.
Regardless of the final score, Saturday will be one to remember in Austin; between ESPN’s College Gameday broadcast, athletic director Chris Del Conte’s brainchild “Bevo Boulevard” pre-game festivities, and a Longhorn City Limits concert by Midland and Rob Baird. One team will also end the day with a signature win to jump start their season. I predict Texas will win but not make the 6.5 point spread in a high-defense, low-scoring 24-21.